Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shivers in the Park

One of my family’s favorite recreational activities is tent camping. When I was growing up, My family had done a lot of camping. So when my kids were small, and my husband and I received a nice sized tent from my parents for Christmas, we wanted to go camping right away.

We immediately hit Wal-Mart and picked up a few basic camping items: white gas, lantern and mantels, cooking gear, etc. We loaded our mini-van with all our camping gear, blankets (we didn’t have any sleeping bags), and food.

Of course, we weren’t daunted by the fact that it was winter. We drove to the park and wended up the mountain to the camping park at the top. Apart from one RV, we were the only campers.

We looked forward to enjoying the great outdoors with the crisp, cool air. Crisp and cool, eh? Try frigid and freezing! Our grand plan wasn’t so grand, after all. In the morning, we were shivering by the fire and just about frostbitten, when the ranger came by. He must have thought we were idiots to tent camp in early January. And he was right!

Our morning blazing campfire didn’t do much. As we shivered around the fire, our front was heated a bit, but our backs were freezing.

We were, all in all, rather relieved that, according to the park rules, we had to leave around noon. Using fumbling, frozen fingers, we packed up our camping gear in record time. That was nice, because it meant we had to move around, which meant we were generating body heat. At least that is what I told myself. To be honest, I don’t think it did a whole lot.

We piled in the van and headed down the mountain. We’d had fun, but were glad our grand adventure was over.

Lest you think that spoiled us on camping, you should know that we go camping quite a bit. There are many great camping areas in Oconee County, but most close for the season around the end of September.

Oconee State Park is open year round, and we’ve done our fair share of camping there, usually in the fall (no more winter adventures). We didn’t use the tent sites, because the RV sites had close access to the bathrooms and a most amazing commodity – electricity.

Of course, I always felt our RV camp site looked a little ridiculous with our tent staked down. But, since the sites had electricity, we would sometimes bring a lamp with us to use in the tent. If the weather was a bit chilly, we brought a heater, too, which we only used in the tent after dusk when we played cards or board games.

Most of the times we have camped, it has rained. The first time it happened, we woke up to hear the rain patter on our tent, and I realized our air mattress was floating. But that is another story…


Donna McDine said...

We camped a lot growing up with my Dad being a boy scout leader. Even though I enjoyed it I don't venture down this path in my adult hood. I'm a hotel type gal. Looking forward to hearing about your floating air mattress.


Chris Redding said...

I was into camping when I was younger, but now I like a roof over my head and a mattress under my body when I sleep.

But, in college I went backpacking and camping with two friends. Alyssa was like a goat because she walked everywhere. The other girls name escapes me but she was a parks and rec major which made me htink we were safe. She mapped out a route. And where we'd camp. It decided to snow that morning. Inches in the valley. A foot in the mountain. We took turns pulling each other out of snow drifts. We ended up not getting as far as we thought and wouldn't make it to where her car was parked. We camped then hiked down the mountain and called her husband to come get us. Ack!

Tara McClendon said...

My husband came up with the idea of heating rocks in the fire and putting them in the sleeping bag. Nice and toasty--and I'm not getting out.

Tara McClendon said...

I should add that he wraps the hot rocks in a T-shirt to prevent burning the material (or me).

Anonymous said...

I'd love to go camping sometime. Goodness knows I've got the gear and the know-how, but I've also got an unwilling husband. He swears I'll hate it because of the lack of showers and the bugs. He may be right about the bugs, especially the huge ones that only come out at night...