I have been an outdoorsy kind of girl my entire life. Growing up, we didn’t take fancy vacations to other countries or exotic locations. Instead, my dad, mom, sister and I would go camping up at DeSoto Falls in the north Georgia mountains. Catching salamanders, hiking up to the water falls, hearing the rain on the roof of the tent, and telling scary stories around the campfire are some of the memories that I cherish the most. After my divorce, I started taking my son camping regularly at DeSoto Falls. I wanted him to experience the same fun adventures I had growing up –WITHOUT his Xbox, cell phone or any other electronics. We were primitive camping, which means a tent, no electricity, and no running water.
My husband, Dale had not been camping in 20 years when we first met three years ago. During our first year of marriage we took a camping trip to DeSoto Falls where I had spent so many of my younger years. I still laugh about the look on his face as I set up the tent (by myself), along with the picnic tent (also set up by myself). I must say though that he was able to uncork the wine bottle with the efficiency of a pro.
Since Dale had not been camping in years, his children had never been exposed to what it is like sleeping outside under the stars. We really wanted to share the adventure with them so we started off slow and decided to do a trial camping adventure with the kids by having a camp out in the back yard. If all went well, we would advance to camping in the mountains.
I got the tent set up along with the air mattress, sheets & blankets. I set up camp chairs around the outdoor fireplace (and actually found firewood at the Home Depot even though it was August.) I filled up the outdoor lantern and got the little table set out so we could play cards. I brought marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate to make s’mores over the fire. Finally, it was dusk and we brought the kids outside.
Everyone was so excited about our newest adventure. We played what seemed like the longest running Uno game in the history of the earth. We roasted marshmallows for our s’mores, which was even more interesting since my step-son has a gluten allergy, and we attempted to make s’mores for him using gluten free animal cookies instead of graham crackers. (It works, but it’s very sticky!)
It started getting late and it was time to wind down and get to sleep. Everyone climbed in the tent and got settled in. The kids were fast asleep within minutes. The adults? Well, let’s just say that the sound of air-conditioning units going on and off do not equate to the sound of quiet and crickets you get in the mountains. Teenagers flying through the neighborhood with their music blasting, trying to get home before their curfew is not necessarily equal to the sound of a babbling brook that lulls you to sleep. And did I mention that it was still August? In Georgia? And still 87 degrees out after midnight?
After the initial giggling between me and Dale of “what could possibly happen next” the dog next door started barking…and we called it a night. We grabbed the kids and took them inside to their rooms, and then we sleepy-staggered into our bedroom.
And it was a good thing. Because the greatest thing about backyard camping is that an actual bathroom is only steps away and you don’t run the risk of getting poison ivy on your butt from peeing in the woods. (THAT is a true story.)