Saturday, April 06, 2013


I tend toward the more high maintenance side of the spectrum. I like heating, air conditioning, real bathrooms, hot water, elevators, television, good food....basically, I'm your typical American in that I often get a bit entitled. But that doesn't mean I'm not willing to rough it when the situation calls for it. Though I bet many of you would find that surprising.

In fact, when I was younger, my Dad, brother and I were quite the campers. We would drive to Michigan and Minnesota several times a year to visit my Grandmother, Grandfather, and Aunt, and stop at campsites along the way.  In Minnesota we would also stay at Grandma's cabin, which had no electricity and no running water (hellooooooooo, outhouse!). We had one of those pop-up campers, and while it wasn't the roomiest or most comfortable place to stay, it kept us off the ground and provided some modicum of protection from the swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

Home, sweet pop-up camper, home.

But with age comes laziness, and it's been probably 20 years or so since I went camping. It's not like I was turning down offers to go camping, it just never seemed to come up. I guess most of my friends aren't exactly the roughing it types either. So when my friends, Scott and Lis (also known as the parents of Max the beagle) invited me to go camping down at the site owned by Scott's Mom and Stepdad, I was excited to get back to nature.

My only hesitation was when I learned that we would be sleeping in tents. And using a port-a-potty. "Whatever," I thought. "I'll be fine! I'm a grown ass woman and the fun will more than make up for any discomfort." I borrowed a large tent from Chris, put my air mattress in the car, and loaded myself up with blankets and my sleeping bag (more than 20 years old) since it would be cold at night, and thought I was prepared.

I was not prepared.

Because when I say it was cold at night, I mean it was cold. Frigid. Below freezing. Probably 30 degrees or so. I thought I would be ok since I wasn't actually sleeping on the ground....but I didn't have the fancy wool camping socks that other people seemed to have. Or the actual nice sleeping bag that traps in the heat. What I did have was frozen toes and the three hours of sleep I managed to snatch in between shivering bouts. Thank god I remembered to take my fuzzy hat or I would have been super screwed.

But the cold night was just a blip on the otherwise awesome weekend. I could only spend one night down at the campsite due to obligations on Saturday night, but we still managed to pack a whole lot of fun into that trip. I drove down with Jon and Lis on Friday afternoon to Nelson County (about an hour south of Charlottesville) and despite the traffic, we had a fun time on the road. We stopped at a brewery to fill up some growlers, and arrived around 6 in the evening. Just enough time to set up our tents, meet some new friends, and head out to dinner at the excellent Wild Wolf Brewing Company restaurant. Pork BBQ for all! (drool).

And there's a beirgarten in the back!

The rest of the night was spent gathered around the campfire chatting, exchanging jokes, telling scary stories, gazing at the stars, and in general connecting with one another in that special way that can only be done around the fire. The next morning we did more of the same around the coffeepot and decided to go for a hike up in the hills. Despite some drama involving Scott's Stepdad's dogs (who decided to wander off for a spell), we enjoyed the sunshine and the exercise.

Sadly, after lunch it was time for me to get back on the road and head up to NOVA, but just in that short time I made a bunch of new friends (of the human and dog variety) and gained affection for an area of Virginia I had never visited.

It turns out camping is just like falling off a log--and I'll probably get around to doing that next time we go. But next time I think I will wait until the temperature gets above 40 degrees or so at night. If nothing else, just for the sake of my poor little toes.

 Lunchtime at the campsite!

 Crossing the suspension bridge with Scott, Lis, and Jon and heading for the hiking trail.

And of course, Max the beagle came along.

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