I am not usually a person who complains a lot. I really try to take things in stride and maintain a positive attitude. Since I returned from camping at the county fair with my son this past week, however, I have heard myself complaining again and again about my experience. Since I think of myself as a person who can endure a bit of hardship much better than the average mom, I am slightly embarrassed to have to admit that I came away from that camping experience just a little traumatized.
Perhaps if I spill it all out here, I can be done with it and move on with my life.
- The nights were cold. The coldest night was just barely above the freezing mark and the other nights weren't much warmer--low 40's, tops.
- Our tent is NOT designed for cold weather camping. The entire top half of the tent is mesh, rather than solid nylon, with the rain fly designed to fit about six inches above the tent itself. This allows for nice ventilation in hot weather, but in cold weather, the tent does not hold ANY body heat in AT ALL. Any amount of heat you are able to generate inside the tent is immediately vented out the top, under the rain fly.
- The 'campground' at the fairgrounds is actually just the overflow parking lot--not exactly a peaceful, scenic place to camp on Bull-O-Rama night or either of the rodeo nights. I was in constant danger of my tent strings (which are stretched well beyond the footprint of the tent and anchored into the ground with stakes) being run over, collapsing my entire tent. Cars and trucks and livestock trailers were constantly driving around the tent, literally within inches, most every evening.
- The closest running water was a leaky in-serious-need-of-a-washer spigot a hundred yards away in the stinky swine barn.
- There was no electricity available, of course.
- Our food was kept in our nifty new cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter in the car. This is a great idea for a lengthy road trip, when the engine is running most of the day or we are in a hotel where we can plug the adapter into the wall. This is not such a good idea for tent camping, where plugging in the cooler drains the battery of the vehicle. The van had to be started every couple of hours and allowed to idle for ten minutes or so to keep the battery from dying. I still managed to kill the battery once and had to get a jump. Fortunately, the nights were so cold (see above) that we could unplug the cooler at night with no fear of the milk spoiling.
- My son, my tentmate from Tuesday afternoon until Sunday evening, is a total slob when he camps...and most of the time, actually.
- There were no campfires allowed. What is camping without a fire? Cold evenings and mornings are very, very cold when there is no fire to warm up by. I didn't have a cook stove with me, either, so that means nothing warm at all--not even a cup of tea--for nearly a week.
-Personal grooming involved a jug of water (ice water, morning and evening--see above) sitting on the fender of the trailer next to our toothbrushes, a washcloth and a bar of soap. My daughter came for one overnight with us and helped me shampoo my hair. I likewise helped my son shampoo his hair once during the week. That was enough. It was painfully cold to do.
- Our tent location was within 150 yards of ALL of the following: the swine barn, the beef barn, the dairy barn, the goat barn, the sheep barn and the poultry barn. Have you ever tried to sleep with dozens of every variety of barnyard animal (all of whom are out of sorts in unfamiliar lodgings) surrounding you? It's not easy. Trust me. That is a NOISY place. I have a new respect for Noah.
- My son, bless his heart, had to be up and at 'em by about six o'clock in the morning to report to the barn to take care of the animals. I didn't always get up with him, but still...
- I refuse to spend the money on fair food every day. Between Tuesday and Sunday, I purchased one cheeseburger and one cup of soup. Oh, and I had a bite of my son's elephant ear. That is all. The rest was cold food from the van (see above). Oh, but Sunday afternoon another fair family took my son and me out for pizza! Bless those beautiful people.
- I forgot to bring a hat to sleep in and finally bought a wool winter hat from a fair vendor on Saturday. A wool hat for wearing to bed would have helped tremendously.
- I failed to bring a heavy winter coat, thinking that IN LATE AUGUST it would be sufficient to have several light layers.
- Did I mention I was cold? Day time high temperatures were up in the upper 80's, but all I remember is the cold.
I think that is all. I can be done now.