When I think about camping these days, images of the Walking Dead survivor group comes to mind. I see them way back at the beginning when Shane was in charge (sort of) camped out by a quarry. I see them after they escaped Herschel’s farm, reconvened after a herd of walkers tore apart their sanctuary, and Rick declaring the group a dictatorship: “This isn’t a democracy anymore”. He had just killed Shane and Andrea was missing…and they were camping in the forest with nothing but their clothes on their backs. Oh, and Lori was pregnant…
The group camps out of necessity and because there is no other option. The prison was a refuge for a while but they ended up back in the bush after that went all to hell in a hand basket. Often they had nothing, not even water unless they happen to be close to a river and had a receptacle on hand to boil the water, which was likely infested by walker guts. They were roughing it in the true sense of the word.
Some people want to ‘rough it’ as a way to vacation. People in this house want to go live in a forest for a week and ‘make do’. Only difference is they don’t have to fight off dead humans who want to eat them…like Rick’s group on the Walking Dead.
I watch them with interest, Rick and Daryl, Carol and Michonne, Glenn and the rest of them, wondering how one can be reduced to such bare necessities and not lose their shit. I mean, think about it. They’re constantly camping, and not because they want to.
(And yes, they do lose their shit, more often than not. Whole point of the show is trying not to lose it…but not because of unwanted body hair or bugs, and other superficial things. They have bigger problems to worry about, most of which has nothing to do with personal comfort. But there was one incident I came across accidentally where the guy who played Daryl’s brother Merle (played by Michael Rooker) complained in an interview about ticks getting into his underwear. ICK!)
Today’s recreational camping is all about gear. Gear which requires shopping, spending money, and planning. “Going camping” is so much work and it doesn’t end once you get to the camp site.
I’m not a camper. I’m not one to enjoy marinating in my own sweat, eating amongst mosquitoes and other bugs, sitting endlessly with a fishing rod in my hands. Sure I enjoy the scenery, the playing with the kids by the beach, the canoeing. I enjoy making fires and poking at it with a stick. I even like sleeping with the kids in the tent, listening to the rain fall and waking with the sun. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a dock in the morning, coffee in hand, watching the sun rise. It’s very Canadian, this image, and there isn’t much to dislike about all of that.
But the rest of it? And the fact that members of my own family want to stay ‘just another day’ until I can’t take it anymore? THAT is not fun for me. Still, no one wants to leave and I give in, as I often do when it comes to family pleading…and we stay another day. Four days, then five…
The type of camping my family does is more like glamping. Glamping is a trendy term combining the words camping and glamour. Glamping can be a simplified version, such as sleeping and cooking in a trailer instead of in a tent and on an open fire, or it can go extreme and include things like WiFi, a flushing toilet and running water in an enclosed shower.
I’m kind of in the middle of it all. If the camping trip isn’t too long (no more than 4 days including the trip to and back), I can certainly do without WiFi. I’m not that bad (although I do like this real time internet thing we have going nowadays). I could read endless books if it wasn’t for the constant bug-swatting…I enjoy clean hair washed and conditioned in clean, hot water, but I can manage fine without for a few days (but not for a week). I will gladly use the outhouse instead of crouching behind a bush, and if I can get some privacy I’ll shave my legs in a secluded spot to feel less icky. But camping like this isn’t my idea of a vacation. Camping is a lot like housework if you ask me…work that never stops. And if I ‘let it go’ for a while there is a risk of a snake, or a spider, entering my sleeping bag and I am having none of that. Daryl can kill and eat snakes all he wants to with his bow and arrow thingy, but that ain’t gonna be my cuppa tea. Gross. (Well, he’s hot, but eating a snake is gross even if there is no other food. And beside, Beth wasn’t having much of it either and she was just as hungry…)
When I’m vacationing, I like the idea of cold drinks with fresh ice cubes instead of lukewarm beer. Real cream in coffee instead of powdered milk. A steak grilled on charcoal with a fresh salad instead of hot dogs on a stick burnt to a crisp. I mean, sure, I enjoy wieners on a stick as much as the next person occasionally, but not every day for a week.
The spot where our camping usually occurs is beautiful, private, peaceful and perfect for my nature children to truly enjoy free range parenting (as long as I don’t think about ticks, Lyme’s disease, mosquito bites resulting in other diseases, coyotes and bears, snakes and snapping turtles, and fire. Oh and drowning, falling off trees and breaking bones, or swallowing the wrong kind of berry).
I think about that stuff, and I don’t want to go. I don’t want to prepare, or shop for stuff we only use once a year or less often and then need to store it someplace. I don’t want to pack, and then unpack. I don’t want to eat food that’s bathing in a cooler full of melted ice, nor do I want to eat canned food every day. I am not part of Rick’s group at the moment, I have choice.
I don’t want to not have showers. I don’t mind swimming in lakes, but I really do like the luxury of a nice, hot, soapy shower….even it it’s only every other day or so. But going a whole week? It’s not really my thing. I don’t enjoy body hair, especially not in this oppressive humidity. And I don’t have a team of make-up artists from the Walking Dead that keep even the most tired looking survivor appear sexy and hot. Not that I care about sexy and hot, I’m just sayin’…
Perhaps I can convince my family to leave without me and I’ll have my first ever vacation alone, at home, since the kids came along. Perhaps this is something to look forward to, instead. And if they have a Walking Dead binge on AMC that week, then that decision has already been made.