Camping 102

smoreI missed our Sunday Evening Art Gallery post yesterday as I was camping for the weekend with my crazy family. We try and rent side-by-side sites, all the better to have the grandkids run helter skelter between grandparent campers. What one grandparent doesn’t have the other does. Riding vehicles, pokey sticks for the fire, dog treats, juice boxes — grandparents are a cornicopia of things to make the world a better place.

There is a payment for those hidden tokens, though. Marshmallows and flower hunting come at a price.

I  haven’t ridden a bicycle in a couple of years. Well, this past weekend changed all that. Bicycle to the bathroom. Bicycle to the beach. Bicycle around the “O”. All with my 6-year-old grandson. First ride in the morning, last ride in the evening. Not to be left behind as a lazy granny, I’m peddling off towards the sunset, blinded by the light, laughing as I’m crying. It wouldn’t be proper to say what part of my body hurts the most, but let’s just say it’s in the middle of the word SassY.

We also play Polish Horseshoes, a game made of string and blocks of wood and dowel rods. I’m sure there’s a professional name and version of this game, but not by us. And the more the participants drink, the harder it is to hit simple blocks of wood. We cook enough food for every meal to feed an army. Sometimes it’s a mishmash of Polish and Mexican and Belgium; other times it’s carefully planned exercises in free-for-all. I suppose that’s to ensure that there’s something on the table everyone likes. And leftovers to make their way to all ends of the state.

That’s why I need more bicycle rides.

Beach time is tella tubby time, but the grandkids don’t notice, so neither do I. It’s a time to build sand castles, endure freezing water temperatures, and wander over to the food stand for an ice cream cone. It doesn’t matter that the ice cream is fattening or the sand is corrosive — all it means is that for a short time GB and I were building castles in the air and drowning the poor sand soldiers made of plopped pillars of sand.

The best times are when family and friends sit around the campfire. Night has descended, the birds and squirrels are asleep, and the park’s raccoon pack hasn’t made it down to our campsite yet. We settle in our chairs, drink our drinks, make sticky, messy, yummy Smores, and talk about our lives. We all become human around the fire — not some speedy office hero, super mom, retired teacher, or trained security guard. We are just family people, sharing family thoughts, dreaming of the best way to retire or clean out our basements or keep in touch with other family members who don’t want to keep in touch. We tell each other what a good job we’ve done as parents and friends and children, how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and how we would fix it if we could. Then we finally make it back home, derierres and leg muscles sore, hearts fixed.

Family Time, Friend Time, is so important to human survival. We don’t have to be best friends with the world to be best friends to one. Find one. Find a dozen. Share yourself. People will accept you, quirks and all.

And who better to share smores with than someone who is as full of sticky sweet sugar as you?


Camping for Seniors

luxury-campingI just spent the holiday weekend camping up in Door County. It’s an annual multi-family gathering, full of great food, great company, and great outdoors. There is nothing more delightful than being in the Great Outdoors, sharing secrets with Mom Nature, roasting marshmallows over the campfire and hiking down the trails. We don’t do hotels, nor can we afford a pull-behind camper. My hubbie and I are quite content to  use my son’s popup tent. But I have decided that next year is going to be different. At least comfort-wise.

Now that I’m sitting dry and comfy back in my livingroom, I’m going to change my comfort plans for next year. My body’s aches and pains are telling me that this was the last year for army cots and mummy sleeping bags. I think that I am old enough to bring a little more comfort into my camping zone.

I want to go out and get a nice, fluffy pillow for starters. It can be polyfill, but I’m tired of my neck being stiff from flat head. I also am tired of the mummy-bag-look. It was alright when I was in my 20’s and camping with the gang. But with my hot and cold flashes, I can’t breath when I’m a half inch away from poly filling. Besides that, I need to be able to accommodate my Restless Leg Syndrome. I need room. So next year I’m bringing a fluffy, over-sized comforter as my bedding. Floral preferred.

I also need something better than an army cot to prevent stiff bones and joints. Between my tail bone and hips stiffening, I need something that at least pretends to be a bed. A twin-sized air mattress should do the trick.

While we’re at it, this past weekend was a rainy one. Mud everywhere. We do take the luxury of putting a mat outside the tent door, but I think a few wash ‘n wear rugs on the inside floor would be the perfect resting place for my muddy shoes and callused feet. Floral also preferred, although these should be a darker color scheme.

I do set up a little table in the tent, but, alas, my husband’s bag usually takes up most of the room. The table also doubles as a holding spot for glasses, bottles of water, phone, and other oddities that goddesses need throughout the night. So I have to remember not to fill it with silly fluff just for fluff sake. But I need some ambiance, something to keep his stinky clothes at bay. A throw of some sorts should work as a tablecloth, along with  a solar centerpiece or battery operated candle. Nothing bright — just enough light so I can find my way to the door. Nothing like stumbling over stinky dog on your way to the bathroom.

I know you are saying to yourself, Hey — this is camping, you know — not an evening at the Hilton. Camping is made to be a little rough, a little dirty. I so agree. But I also know that my “seasoned” bones need a little more pampering than they did 30 years ago. I have to understand that it’s okay to be a little slower, a little more cautious when it comes to doing the things I love. I can’t run down the road with the four-year-old, chasing him and his bike. So be it. I can be standing in the middle of the road when he circles back, though. That’s what granny’s do.

Granny’s also take care of their surroundings. Both for themselves and others. And this granny deserves to have a little softness in her rough and tough camping world. I don’t think adding an air mattress or a fluffy pillow takes away from the glory of a tent in the woods. These “additions” would bring comfort to my body and my psyche, translating into a happy camper. And isn’t that the point of going?

I might think a little more about throw pillows, though…



The Muse Goes Camping

Last weekend I tried to escape by myself to get a couple of days worth of ME into the cosmos, doing nothing but writing, sleeping, and downing an occasional bottle of Reisling.  Alas, my grandbaby (who is two) and my daughter-in-law wanted to get away too. So how can you say no to that?

This weekend I am going camping with extended family (which includes the aforementioned daughter-in-law and GB) — three days of isolation up in Door County somewhere. Since there were plenty of extended family members to entertain said GB (and knowing my daughter-in-law could use a break), I thought I’d outline a sequel to the novel I finished a while ago. Now I find out there is no electricity. Hmmm. No electricity = no computer.

So I have to put my creative muse to the side — AGAIN.  Here I am in my blogs, encouraging everyone to get in touch with their muse and get into whatever creative endeavor sings to them, yet I find myself putting my creativity to the side in order to have more exposure to something else I love more.

Now there is love, and there is love. When you love your kids, you love them all 150%, no matter if they have green hair or ACT scores along side of Einstein.  We love our dogs, our cats, and occasionally the rest of our family. We love music, movie stars, and chocolate, although those loves are tinted by the recipient’s inability to directly respond back to us. But what happens when you find an activity, an expression of your true self, that you really enjoy doing. but you don’t have time enough to prove that love?

I hate always being an armchair lover. I would “love” to go to Ireland or Italy,  I’d “love” to learn how to cook a souffle, I’d “love” to ride a scooter to and from work, or Ride the Wild Surf at Ventura Beach.  But the odds of any of those “loves” are as good as getting struck by lightning (which is at least better than winning the lottery).  So I learn to channel my out-of-the-box loves into forms that I can handle in small bunches.  Classical music (Schumann, Mozart), rock and roll (Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd), television (Closer and House reruns), taken in small batches, often scratch the itch from the creative mosquito. Something is better than nothing, they say. And it’s true.

Better to get one bite of rich, dark chocolate, than never know what it tastes like at all.  Better to get one quilt patch done rather than still be waiting to buy the material. We don’t have to be a quantity-driven society; in most situations quality is just as important (if not more so). So I can’t spend a week or two with aforementioned GB — ten minutes of him laughing and saying “gamma” fills me during my lonely times. Walking around a city block isn’t the same escape as walking through the woods, but grass is grass and air is air, and just being out in Mother Nature does wonders for your psyche. You all have little experiences you wish you could turn into bigger ones…just jump on the little ones and forget about the bigger ones. You’ll be surprised how much satisfaction you get from them, too.

Don’t let your inability to have it “your way” stop you from getting it any way you can. Just when your schedule can’t get any more screwed up, a patch of blue opens before you, allowing you a chance to connect with your creativity.  Don’t be afraid to work around it, with it. Let the tease remind you of why you love your hobby in the first place. You’ll eventually find time. They also say wherever there’s a will there’s a way. That’s true, too.

So now when I go camping this weekend I’ll be prepared. Guess I’ll have to create the old fashioned way —  with a pen and a spiral notebook and a flashlight.

I just have to be careful not to get the grand baby’s smores on my  paper.