Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't mind me, I'm just camping

I’ve referenced Seattle’s unseasonably cold, grey summer a few times here recently, and I just want to make something clear—I’M NOT COMPLAINING. A summer during which the temperature never breaks the eighty-degree mark is my definition of HEAVEN. (Well, actually, in my version of heaven it would be fall all the time, not summer—but if summer had to happen for some reason, it would happen without ever breaking eighty.)

I think it’s bad manners to complain about temperatures being stuck in the seventies for two straight months when in most of the country it’s been a zillion degrees and humid—so sweat-inducing a friend from Boston reported that she slid off her bicycle seat in a slick of her own perspiration. I grew up in Iowa—I remember what it’s like to spend the summer inside a dog’s mouth. I feel you, Texans.

I’m merely being factual when say that the husband and baby and I are cramming our entire summer into the upcoming week (which is supposed to start off at 83 degrees and end back at a more typical 71.) It wasn’t the plan, it just happened that everything piled up—a weekend with friends in a rental house on an island in Puget Sound, a platform-tent camping experiment on Tuesday, and an outdoor Brandi Carlile concert* on Wednesday. (* The concert is at the zoo, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to ignore the pacing bears and just enjoy myself in the cool evening air.)

The concert has been on the books for months now, the rental house invitation was floated our way a few days ago, and the camping expedition…welllll…

My husband had it in his head that we should go camping this summer because he loves to camp and because that’s just what you do when you live in the Pacific Northwest. I myself have zero desire to spend the night in a tent with my husband and my child who will be WIDE AWAKE because she’s too excited by our scintillating presence to sleep in the same bed with us under any circumstances at all whatsoever ALWAYS.

But my husband said it was super important to him and couldn’t I just do it for the adventure? What’s one night of sleep between spouses?

My family used to camp for a week most summers in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was great fun—campfires and s’mores and nature walks down to the river. I loved it—seriously loved it.

When I moved to Seattle after grad school I was informed that what my family did every summer wasn’t camping, it was “car camping.” Because we hadn’t hiked a bunch of miles with all our crap on our backs, our camping didn’t count. “We didn’t sleep in the car—” I protested, to no avail. “Car camping” to a Seattleite is like RV camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot to most of the rest of the country.

This designation deeply bothers me (in case you couldn’t tell) for any number of reasons.

  1. Why the snotty tone?
  2. Isn’t it better to encourage people to bond with the great outdoors by pitching a tent in it and scrambling eggs over an open flame than to make them feel judged just because their car is in close proximity?
  3. Does “car camping” count as “camping” if your dad can barely walk because he was randomly paralyzed as a teenager? (I especially like to ask people this question because nothing challenges a Seattleite more than pitting their love of extreme outdoor sports against their unyielding need to be politically correct.)
  4. If what I like to do is called “car camping,” what do you call it when you drive out into the woods for the night and sleep in your car?

I ran into a neighbor the other day whose kids are like three and six, and she was all excited because they were going “glamping” for the weekend.


“No, glamping.”

Oh. My. God! Glam! Glamour! Glamour camping! I had no idea what it was, but I was in love.

I did a little poking around online, and it turns out true glamping can get quite expensive, and part of why my beloved likes camping is that it doesn’t cost as much money as a first-class ticket to Honolulu.

But I found a compromise—a platform tent in a state park where we can bring a portable crib in our car and not only have an adventure, but get some sleep, too. They even have lights, a table, and a heater inside. I’m super excited. Just can’t forget to pack the wine, the coffee, the cream, the pillows, the duvet, the matches, and the chocolate.

I love camping! Bring it on!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. We were also Midwesterns who had 'camped' until we moved to Seattle and discovered we'd only 'car camped' all along. We also discovered backpacking, and developed just that snotty tone you mention toward car camping. For us, it's about whether or not that outdoor experience comes with solitude or not. Being back in the Midwest again, 'car camping', being the only real option, has become just 'camping' again.