I just returned from a weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My family and I tubed the Shenandoah River and, along with a bunch of other families, stayed in tents beside a gorgeous 18th century log cabin near a picturesque mountain stream.
Doesn’t that sound heavenly?
Maybe if you’re in your 20s. Or 30s. And just got married. Or have one kid. Or a dog you love, or something… but when you are in your 40s and you have four kids? Camping can be hazardous to your mental health.
Here are (just the top) 10 Reasons I’m Too Old for Camping:
1. My camping gear from 10 years ago is all rusted out and lost and shit. I couldn’t fold the camping table because the hinges were rusted. And who knows where the little camping metal pot and pan shit is—in the shed or cellar?
2. COFFEE. I couldn’t find the camping coffee pot innards—only the metal pot itself, and no lid. So I had to make the instant “International House of Douche Commercial” powdered shit that has like no caffeine in it. I ended up trick or treating for coffee to the other campsites every day. Embarrassing. Keurig needs to make a battery-powered machine.
3. The ground. It is extremely fucking hard. And not ever level. Sleeping in a tent is not fun unless you have a specially designed self-leveling comfy cot. Or, say, an air mattress that does not have a hole in it. WHICH THEY ALL DO. I sleep on my side, and no matter which way I turned, my hip seemed to grind into the solid rock part of the mountain. Even the half-bend action it takes to get in and out of a tent made me feel like an old woman!
4. ICE. There is never enough of it. It just keeps on melting, no matter how awesome your coolers are. Your milk is going to go bad! Why did you bring steak! Lukewarm orange juice sucks! Also—okay, I’m no diva, but I do like to have extremely cold Evian (ONLY! NOT DEER FUCKING PARK! And definitely not that Daisani shit!) available to me at all times. Okay, maybe I’m a diva on just the water thing. Yeah, ice. It’s always a problem.
5. My oldest kid is 18. This means she has a job and a car and absolutely no interest in going camping anymore. (In fact, I believe she may have pointed out that it was “not legal” to try to make her go.) And did I come home to find a sign taped to the back door of my house that read “DON’T TRASH MY HOUSE,” a remnant from the party she had, despite the fact that she was “going to be working the whole time we were gone?” Of course I did.
6. HOT SHOWERS. I want one every day. I do not want a shower that has solar- warmed water in a bag that runs out and then you are freezing and there is conditioner still in your hair and forget shaving your legs. I want a real shower with non-camping/mountainy smelling water.
7. Rivers are disgusting. This is not my fault. And maybe it’s because there were actual banjos playing due to the “River Fest” going on, but I swear to Mother Nature there are like rotting turds floating downstream in John Denver country, people, and scraping your ass over the rocks in the shallow parts? Is no fun.
8. 5-Star Marriotts. I blame 5-star Marriotts for the fact that I am too old to go camping anymore. My husband travels out of town every week and accumulates a gazillion Marriott points which means in the last 10 years I’ve traveled to spas, islands, the good parts of cities, and many other luxurious destinations. There are orange ginger hair and body products, whirlpool tubs, breathtaking views, swim-up bars, chocolates on pillows and overpriced room service French toast toppings. I’ve grown soft. Marriott: 1, Nature: 0.
9. Camping Burnout. My love of camping began when I was a Girl Scout in Pennsylvania’s Camp Tohikanee more than three decades ago. (This weekend I slept with the same blue blanket I camped with back then.) Since that time I have been a Girl Scout leader for a total of five years now. My favorite part of that? Planning camping trips. The tin foil, the thunderstorms, the puke, the craft supply bins, the bandannas to keep off the ticks, the snake in our unit, the checking for black widow spiders in the cabins. Been. There. Done. That. A couple more years, because my nine-year-old is still really into it, and then I’m done. Camping at Marriotts only, girls! We’ll have a special Marriott patch made for your uniforms, mmmkay?
10. Bugs. I wrote a piece awhile back at Splice called A Very Vine Mess in which I outlined the terrifying reality that our world is turning into a huge jungle complete with massive mutant bugs crawling all over it. I’m no scientist, and I don’t mean to be all “I told you so” about the thing, but the fact of the matter is that the bugs and vines are taking over the earth and poison ivy and massive insect bites are going to start killing people and I don’t want to be there when that Land of the Lost shit goes down Sleestak-style.
My kids love the camping trip. That is why we are there. Heck, I will admit that for a few brief moments, in all the noise, and chaos, and mediocre camping food and even not-cold-enough Evian, I enjoyed it. Seeing the stars in true darkness, my six-year-old on my lap sharing a S’more with me, finding a “rock hammock” to rest on by the stream, and the cool breeze blowing through the tent windows… I’m not too old to appreciate those things. Maybe Keurig will come out with that battery powered coffee machine, and I can do it for one more year.
—Mary McCarthy also blogs at pajamasandcoffee.com