Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Christina Booked Us a Camping Trip... Has Hell Frozen Over (LOL!)?!!

So imagine my surprise when, at work, I got the following message...

"Hey there, I wanted to let you know that I booked us for camping at Big Basin State Park on the 23rd. I'm looking forward to it... I think (LOL!)"

Now for everyone to really appreciate this, certain words just don't naturally flow together, and these are referred to as "oxymorons"... jumbo shrimp, military intelligence (to quote an oft incorrect but familiar one), and now, "Christina camping"... I don't know where I went wrong with this over the years, but for some reason, Christina just never got into camping. It may have just been her upbringing; it wasn't something her family did very often, whereas with my family, camping was the definition of the summer vacation getaway. I remember a few times staying in a hotel whenever we went anywhere, but I absolutely remember camping all over the country and up in Canada. My grandparents on my Mom's side were really hardcore campers, and they were exceptionally good at it. It used to crack me up to see pictures of my mom and her parents at various campsites... with chaise lounges and full dresses reading books and looking like they were poolside, yet there they were next to a tent under the redwood trees. In any event, my appreciation of camping came from that.

I remember early on when Christina and I were dating, we went to go up and hang out with my guitar player, his girlfriend, and her friend and husband up in Humboldt County near the Eel River. Now, at this given time, I didn't really own any gear, so we made do with what we had in our car, and used the car as a makeshift tent (a Ford Escort with the seats folded down makes for a surprisingly roomy place to sleep). Added to that, we also took some time and floated down the Eel river in inner tubes. It was later in the summer, so there wasn't as much water, but we still made it down, albeit with the various mosquitoes and such. To me, this was just a normal part of being outside, not perfect, but an adventure nonetheless, better than some I'd had, but not as great as others, but overall, sure, it was a fun weekend. Christina *hated* it, though, and I think that has soured her on the idea of camping ever since.

Fast forward 18 years, and the kids and I have embraced the ethos of camping, and look forward to going whenever we can (greatly enhanced by the fact that I'm a scout leader and, well, that just comes with the territory). Because of this, we have invested in camping gear and have access to a fair amount of items to make the experience comfortable, if not downright palatial. Still, Christina balks at coming with us much of the time... it's just not something that she like to do, and I can understand that. Her exact wording is "it's a lot of work for a little enjoyment".

Now, I'm not sure I can change her point of view on this, but her wording got me to thinking about a number of things that I do that are "labor intensive with a little bit of enjoyment"... and to an outsider, I can see how that might be perceived. In Christina's eyes, camping, snowboarding, native American dance, scouting, they are all a lot of work, with a lot of gear, generally speaking, and require an intimate knowledge of how to use it and deploy it to do anything. I think this assessment is correct, but I think it misses the mark in a few areas. For starters, yes, snowboarding requires gear, clothing, and a vehicle to get where you want to go. A Day trip can be an exhausting experience, absolutely, but once you get there, once you strap on a board, and once you start riding, all of the preparation fades into the background and you just enjoy the ride. The same goes with camping. Yes, you need to set up a tent, and you need to have some gear to cook food out in the wild, but with practice comes efficiency and speed, so while Christina looks at it all as a big chore, for me half the fun is getting out and getting things set up nicely. From there, whatever we want to do is wide open. No clocks, no phones, complete freedom to do whatever we want to and know we have a cover to get back to in the middle of one of the prettiest places we might want to be in at any given time. For me, *that's* the allure of camping, and getting out there and seeing how well I can test myself against nature... and in this case, I have a car I can keep extra comforts in. I'm not sure how Christina would handle a more bare bones backpacking camping trip (it does have the fact that very little needs to be carried going for it :) ).

So I am looking forward to our trip to Big Basin, Hey, any excuse to get out and camp is fun for me, but the fact that Christina recommended it makes it even more special. I'm totally curious to see how this will all pan out... I hope as a great experience she will smile about. We shall see :).

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