Skydiving, an African safari and camping were the last three things on my bucket list. Glancing at my dwindling savings account, it was clear that camping would be the only viable option this year. It was past the time to heed the siren’s call, experience the great outdoors, sleep under the stars, and roast marshmallows over a roaring fire.
This was an imperfect plan…
I needed help with my brain child because I didn’t know zilch about camping. My son-in-law, on the other hand, is a West Texas cowboy who knows all about the great outdoors. He would be the perfect foil.
My family had just polished off Easter dinner, and everyone was in a good mood. I made sure my son-in-law had two helpings of coconut cake; he was primed for the slaughter.
“I’ve decided to fulfill one of the last things on my bucket list, a camping adventure. Who wants to go with me?”
Troy, my grandson, piped up. “Gram and I need to go camping! Dad, please, please.”
Did I mention how much I love that kid?
My son-in-law, Dusty, shook his head and sighed. “Your grandmother would hate camping.”
George, my oldest grandson, chimed in that his dad did have camping gear in the garage that was just sitting there. My hero!
“Mom, where do you want to go on this camping trip?” Dusty asked.
I had to think about that for a minute or two. “Let’s go where there are tall pine trees and beautiful mountain streams. And the weather can’t be cold or too hot. Clean bathrooms like Buc-ee’s are a must and hot showers would be glorious.”
My son-in-law sighed deeply. “You’re talking about the Holiday Inn in Boulder, Colorado.”
After much whining on my part, my plan had legs. My nephew Matt, an avid outdoorsman, would be joining us for the camping extravaganza. Our destination would be four hours away at some random campground near Tyler, Texas. For two amazing days, we would breathe in the outdoors and commune with Mother Nature. I couldn’t wait to cross camping off my list.
Matt and I arrived at Dusty’s as the sun was peeking through the clouds. The boys loaded up the truck with all kinds of manly stuff like fishing gear and tents. Dusty looked at all my luggage and tossed me one scruffy backpack.
“Everything you want to take needs to fit into this one backpack.”
We were off to a very rough start. Our wagon train had gone twenty miles when I spied a Starbucks and insisted we stop.
“Nope,” yelled the four stooges.
I must have been delusional to go on a trip without another woman in sight. I was outnumbered, but I hadn’t surrendered, not quite yet. We finally arrived at a remote campground, and there wasn’t one tall pine tree or a rippling stream in sight.
“OK, everyone, grab a bag, and start setting up the tent,” Dusty barked out.
“Honey, I need to find a restroom; it’s a real emergency. Just point me in the direction where the bathrooms are,” I yelled.
“Mom, see that bush over there? That’s your new bathroom for the next two days.” It was a toss-up whether to laugh or cry.
“Did you bring any toilet paper, Dusty?”
He held up a leaf and grinned.
Two hours later, the tent was finally up. It was hotter than blue blazes, and a swarm of mosquitos decided I was a tasty meal. The men went fishing, and I tagged along because there was nothing to do at the stupid campground. As soon as they started fishing, it became too quiet.
“Hey guys, let’s play twenty questions,” I suggested, hoping to break the monotony.
All the guys said in unison, “Shush.”
Fishing is the singular most boring sport in the world, just in case you didn’t know.
We returned to our campsite, and the boys were starving. Suddenly, everyone looked at me. My new assignment was chief cook and bottle washer. I was popular once again! The boys got the campfire roaring, and the T-bone steaks came out of the cooler.
Grabbing a black cast-iron skillet, I attempted to cook the steaks. After a severe case of smoke inhalation, one scorched eyebrow, and a big blister on my arm, the steaks were ready.
No one warned me about the inherent dangers of camping….. To find out what happens next on the most extraordinary adventure, look for my book on Amazon: When You Can’t Remember Shiitake Coming Soon!