“Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business.”
There’s a scene in the movie “What About Bob?” that reminds me of my first camping experience this past weekend. It’s the scene where Bob returns from “sailing” for the first time… wrapped in a life-jacket and tied down to the main sail. He’s yelling, “I’m sailing! I’m sailing! I’m a sailor!” Later he explains to Dr. Marvin’s son, Siggy, “My secret was to let the boat do all the work.”
So upon my return from my very first camping trip, I wanted to yell “I’m camping! I’m camping! I’m a camper! My secret was to let nature do all the work.”
Actually this weekend was very enjoyable. Our family went camping with six other families. Yup. Our group totaled thirty-two people (18 kids and 14 adults — the adults were definitely outnumbered). We arrived at Lake Casitas Friday afternoon and began setting up camp. Since Michael is gifted with superhuman powers of figuring out how things work, we had put him in charge of setting up the tent. It was the only guarantee my family had of actually having shelter this weekend.
One of the enjoyable aspects of our camping experience was that one of families brought a pick-up truck full of supplies — extra tents, air mattresses, easy-ups, lanterns, hammocks, chairs, etc. I know, I know. I’ve learned very quickly that in any conversation about camping there is someone in the group who will eventually say, “That’s not really camping,” about virtually any camping scenario. So please don’t leave comments about “not really camping.”
Lake Casitas was beautiful! Although only about 15 minutes from a major freeway, it was a quiet and secluded area. I especially enjoyed the mornings — the cool air, the hush over the campgrounds as people were stirring awake, the warm coffee in my hands!
Oh, I need to mention the coffee. There was a brand new Starbucks only three miles away from the camp’s entrance (six miles from our tents). Yeah, baby! So on Saturday morning a few of us made a Starbuck’s run. It was so goooood!
Although we camped at a lake, we weren’t allowed to actually go in the lake. It seems it’s a source for drinking water. Therefore, you can only fish or boat on the lake. So the camp has a water park. (Man, I can hear it now, “Please, you’re not really camping!”) We spent most of Saturday at the waterpark.
Saturday was also Debbie’s and my 17th wedding anniversary. So our group surprised us by clearing out one of the easy-ups and setting up a romantic table for two. The table even had a candle… a citranella candle. But hey, “I’m camping!” Jim Tinker played the part of the hilarious french waiter. After dinner, the group watched our kids so Deb and I could have a romantic sunset walk down by the lake shore. Dang! That was awesome! I love my wife!!
The downside to our weekend was that Catherine took a nasty spill. It was a combination of a steep hill, a scooter and flipflops. She’s okay, but pretty bruised and scratched up. But I’m told that every camping experience isn’t really camping unless someone is injured. I’m just sorry it was her.
Camping wasn’t without its moments of stress. Perhaps the greatest stress was getting ready for bed each night. Our tent was crowded with two large air mattresses. Combine this with almost zero visibility in the dark and six people rotating into the tent to find their pajamas, change, brush their teeth and use some pretty gross bathroom facilities, all mixed in with a healthy dose of irritability… well, let’s just say no one was at their best at that time.
On Sunday, we broke camp after breakfast. Our family visited the Ventura State Beach for lunch and a little fun looking for rocks and shells down by the ocean.
Once we got home, we scrambled to wash four loads of laundry (it was a very dusty campsite so everything was filthy), wash our borrowed van (thanks Mark and Barb for letting us use it), unpack all the gear, and shower six filthy people. And we accomplished all of this in time to have dinner with Mark, Barb and David that evening. Whewww!
Would we do it again? Definitely. It looks like this may turn into an annual event with all of the families. Would we do it again just with our family? Maybe. We’ll probably give it a try one day.
But I did it! I finally did it! I’m camping! I’m camping! I’m a camper!