Camping – Beer, Bugs, and Bella

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Summer has officially started, post-Memorial Day, women can safely wear white shoes without shame, sunburns count and last longer, school days are endless countdowns to summer vacation, and those of us who sit in an office all day ….  Nothing.  But the weekends become even more important – make them count!

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This weekend, I went camping with my brother and his friends… and I brought my dog, Bella. She did great, but sharing a tent with a dog = not much sleep.  Also, she threw up in the tent at 4am after eating lots of pinecones, sand, and sticks.  That was fun to clean up in the pitch darkness, dead asleep, and still feeling the beer.

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So, I love camping.  I know some people feel like it’s dumb – pretending to be homeless, sleeping on the hard ground, eating minimal-prep food, rising with the sun, bugs preying on you with no where to hide, dirty clothes, smelly people, grungy hair, etc.  But let’s be honest, it’s not like I hit the Appalachian Trail for 3 months.  I hunkered down at a maintained campsite with a fire pit and a picnic bench, in a State Park with a nearby running-water bathroom…  oh and i slept on a blow-up mattress.  Run out of ice / firewood? They sell it 2 min away.  I know.  I am so rugged.

But here is why I love camping:

  • Being outside all day…  it really is a treat for those of us who spend most of our lives at a desk, staring at a screen (slowly going blind), pale beyond measure (both due to lack of Vit D and due to Scottish/German heritage)
  • I don’t mind being dirty.  A little water over the hands and I’m good.  Oh, I got dirt on my face? Nothing a wipe from my shirt cannot handle.   Helps to bring baby wipes for hands and faces.
  • Building fires – I am a pyro in a time when it is not acceptable to play with fire… much.  I always use to “maintain” the fire in the fireplace at my dad’s house by poking it, adding wood, messing with it.  My dad used to get special types of wood that would burn different colors so we could watch the flames dance and shift.  So when I camp, I build the fire.  It is an art and it is fun, and I mock those who cannot do so.  You would die on a desert island.  And whenever I get the fire going, my inner Tom Hanks from Cast Away shows up –   I … HAVE MADE FIRE!!!
  • Cooking food on an open flame – I think we can all agree that grilled meat / veggies are awesome.  But cooking over an open flame, I AM CAVEMAN!  Sausage never tasted better.  Hot dogs burned to unrecognizable, charred sticks, YES!  S’mores…  need I say anything about the amazingness of s’mores.  Nay – Ambrosia.  Throw some corn on the cobb, unshucked, grilling in the embers (EMBERS!), maybe some veggies or something wrapped in foil to grill, bring some cheese and crackers, and lots of beer, and WATER, and you’re set.
  • Hiking – we have already discussed my love of hiking, going up and down “mountains,” sweating it out, carrying my water and a snack, getting to the peak and looking down at what you have literally overcome.  Primal.

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This trip was my first to Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, DE, right on the beach. It was gorgeous, fun to spend the day on the beach and then retreat to the coverage of the trees for an evening of snacks, card games, beer, and GIANT FIRE. I am still recovering a from a day/night of exposure, sunburn, dehydration, too much beer, and not enough sleep.

Ah, summer.

If you’re not a camper, give it a try.  You can do it up with an air mattress, coolers of fancy food / wine, drive up to your site, and be in walking distance of a bathroom.  I am not asking you to be rustic, just outdoorsy.

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