I have been camping only once! For my husband, Douglas, camping was a youthful pursuit, and he is fervid in his love for the outdoors. He has so much camping equipment in the basement that is going unused, mainly because of me!
When Douglas asked me to go camping in the Sierra Nevada in California, I was all for time in nature. We didn’t have to reserve a room, free to pitch a tent anywhere in the mountains. We planned to remain in the mountains for six days.
As we drove up the mountains toward the Dardanelles, I started feeling a little queasy, climbing higher and higher with no guard rails in sight. I closed my eyes and just pretended that I was still on flat ground.
When we finally arrived at the place Douglas had chosen, I was one happy camper! in deciding where to pitch our tent, I deferred to the experienced camper, who chose a place next to a small stream. There were other people camping nearby, but not so close that we would disturb them or they us.
My first question was, “Where is the bathroom?” I thought that modern facilities would be available in the 21st century, but I was wrong! The only thing available was nearly a half-mile hike, with no shower and was more of an old-fashioned outhouse than a toilet! What in the world was going on!?
Douglas was as happy as a bear finding our food supply! He had the tent up in no time and was starting to prepare our first meal. I decided that it wasn’t so bad, and it was just for six days. I could survive that long. Or could I?
As a city girl, I am accustomed to night gradually falling, but in the mountains, dark seems to descend quickly, with light one moment and pure darkness the next minute. You have no choice but to go to bed. Not only does it go black, but the temperature drops precipitously.
We crawled into the tent. I decided to sleep in what I had on, because trying to change clothes in a tent in equivalent to trying to undress in a box: nearly impossible. Finally, we were ready to sleep, but I couldn’t get there for two reasons.
First, the stream gurgled continuously. Douglas found it soothing, but it was pure torture for me. I screamed, “Somebody turn off the stream!” Douglas told me not to wake up the other campers. So, I tried to adjust to the noise, but I never did. It is strange that I find fountains soothing, except late at night when I am trying to sleep!
Second was too many commercials and trailers for horror movies. In the pitch dark, my mind kept conjuring up images of a knife-wielding killer, with blood dripping from his lips, slashing through the top of the tent. We had nowhere to run to avoid being mercilessly stabbed to death. I kept waking Douglas with every sound I heard, sure that Freddy was just outside the tent, chainsaw and all. Neither of us slept for nearly three nights!
Then, I couldn’t go hiking with Douglas, because a lobe of my left lung had been removed to stop it collapsing for no reason and putting me in the hospital. After about 7000 feet above sea level, I couldn’t breathe well, so we had to keep stopping.
After three days of having no internet reception and no way to obtain newspapers, on top of no showers or a toilet that flushed, I waved the white flag, conceding victory to the mountain and the stream. I had wondered for days if the world had ended and we were the only people still alive! As a city girl, I needed news like I needed water.
Douglas finally came to the realization that camping was not for me, and we headed home. Once again, I closed my eyes as we descended the mountain, to keep from screaming all the way down. For once, Douglas didn’t try to convince me that my fears demonstrated a lack of faith in God. I had a lot of faith in God protecting me, but we all have fears, irrational as they may be, and one of mine is mountain roads without guard rails!
So, we have not camped again. Douglas has asked if I will go to the Great Smoky Mountains with him. I will, but only if we can find a cabin with modern conveniences, such as a toilet, wifi, a stove and refrigerator, and glorious hot showers. I simply am not rustic. So far, I have succeeded in keeping him more focused on traveling to Europe, rather than Appalachia.