Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Camping For Dummies

I remember camping for the first time as an adult, being responsible for the packing, the cooking, and taking care of my needs with out the help of a parent.  I was nineteen years old and decided to take a girls trip with my cousin over a period of a week.  We flipped a coin to decide on a direction to go and fortunately the direction was west which would lead us to familiar British Columbia.  I had camped several times with family in B.C. so I felt confident that we would have no problems navigating around and camping would be a breeze.

We packed up my white Sunbird with a cooler full of nothing (thought we would shop whenever), two sleeping bags, tent, tarp (we thought we were extreme campers taking the tarp), lots of clothes, and cassette tapes for the trip. we departed down the highway towards Kelowna on Canada Day week-end in the wrong direction. We ended up taking the extra super duper long way through the Crows Nest Pass. We got delayed for two hours in the Pass due to construction, got lost trying to exit a town while getting gas, and refused to stop and get a motel as darkness approached because we thought we were so close.  After many hours came and went and the ominous eyes of animals in the ditches and trees threatened us that they would jump out at any given moment, we finally saw the bright lights of Kelowna.  We were very tired and ready for much needed slumber.  The reality of traveling on Canada Day week-end hit us hard when every single motel, hotel, bed and breakfast, and campground was full.  We found one hotel that offered us a room for $300.00.  My cousin looked desperately at me and said, “Wanna just say screw it and take it?” It was the exhaustion talking, she wasn’t being rational.  “We can’t take the hotel room Nicky because that would take all of our money for the trip,” I reminded her. With blood shot eyes and yawning, she responded with. “Lets just drive to your Grandma’s”. “Nicky, we are in Kelowna no where near Red Deer” I tried to snap some sense into her.  We wandered aimlessly around the city and were even pulled over by a policeman.  I was deliriously tired and hoped he would offer us a place to stay or take us to jail for the night.  We ended up pulling into an empty parking lot under a street lamp and slept in the car.  We both cried.

Day two started out with my cousin waking me at , three hours after I finally fell asleep after lying there in fear that Norton (some  man that Nicky’s mom told us to beware of”) was tapping on the trunk. That morning Nicky had a plan that we should head to Radium Hot Springs. The town of Radium was not as busy and we were able to find a camping spot.  We pitched our tent, made our beds, and put the tarp up like a roof over top of the tent then patted ourselves on the back.  I lost the paper rock scissors of who got to sleep on the one air mattress we brought while the other slept on the cold hard earth but things were looking up so the anger passes.  We decided to get some groceries at the local supermarket since we would be cooking for ourselves.  Our grocery list included: Oreo Cookies for breakfast, potato chips for a snack, two extremely large baked potatoes already wrapped in foil for supper, a tub of sour cream, and a case of pop.  I believe we needed assistance getting the fire going. I am almost positive we could not get it going.  We threw the extremely large potatoes directly in the fire and had to fish them out with sticks after they caught on fire.  We went ahead and ate the potatoes half cooked and by hand since we didn’t get eating utensils. The baked potatoes more resembled a smaller football that we ate with both hands.

On the second night there was a wild storm that lasted most of the night.  We giggled because we were safe in our secure tent with our rain proof tarp over head all cozy in our sleeping bags. We thought we had created a secure little den that would keep us safe.  By morning our tarp had collected so much water from the rain that it collapsed and filled our tent with water soaking our bedding and clothes.  I remember lying in a puddle convincing myself to catch a few more winks before dealing with the disaster. In the campsite there were showers which looked promising to warm us up from the chill we both had.  My shower was toasty warm but Nicky’s shower was spraying ice cold water.  I tried to convince her to jump in, “mind over matter” but she refused and we headed to the hot springs and she showered there.  The storm put an end to our tenting experience forcing us to cut our trip short and head back to civilization. 

Our trip wasn’t a complete bust.  We went white water rafting, horseback riding, flew in a small plane over the mountains, and spent time in nature.  Even though we had camped many times before, we hadn’t been responsible for the planning part of it. Since those carefree days I have learned how to properly pack for a camping trip and proper food preparation as well! 

Check out a camper’s packing list on the side bar you can print out to use and add to for your own camping adventure!

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