Camping is Not Always Fun
For those who've longed for a life outdoors and/or a life on the road, know that it is not all scenic campsites with beautiful vistas and incredible hiking. It's not all relaxing by a campfire every night, laughing, smiling and toasting our ah-MAAAY-zing life while the dog happily snoozes nearby, exhausted from a day of splashing through cool crystal clear creeks. Sometimes living outside is really uncomfortable and unpleasant.
This is how yesterday morning started here at Stonewall Jackson Camp in west Texas. I awaken at dawn and decide to get up to head to the port-a-potty (not that close by). Baron always wants to go out when I do, so I take him and start to walk over. Once near the pavilion by our campsite, he is pulling madly to sniff around, likely smelling the critters who were lurking about last night. Probably coyotes. Of course he is unaware that I am on a mission. I finally get him back on track to the port-a-potty when I am swarmed by mosquitoes. They have not really been a problem thus far, so I am not prepared and I only have on shorts and a tank top. It's too unbearable and I decide I need to go back for bug stuff, but of course Baron doesn't realize the urgency of the situation and feels that sniffing takes priority. I manage to drag him back to the truck and find bug stuff. I go back to the pavilion by the road, tie him up (I can't find his long lead by the truck), and am simultaneously slathering on bug repellent lotion and swatting mosquitoes when the friendly local sheriff pulls up and wants to chit chat about the weather. I'm trying to say good morning to him while continuing to battle mosquitoes and trying to nonchalantly cover my chest since I'm not wearing a bra and feel self-conscious. (This is a pretty desolate area, therefore I was not expecting company at daybreak.) This whole time Baron is barking like a maniac at the sheriff, no doubt wondering why he's not getting out of his truck to pet him. The sheriff is helping by baby talking Baron, telling him he's a good boy and such a good guard dog.
He eventually leaves and I finally have quelled the onslaught of mosquitoes enough to make it to the port-a-potty. Yay, I also just got my period. Had a feeling - always a joy when camping. No wonder I don't feel good. Baron and I get back to camp and I figure I'll put on long pants and long sleeves to help with mosquitoes. Hilarious. These are Texas mosquitoes and they don't mess around. Clothes? Ha! That doesn't stop them. It seems to encourage them, actually. As if it's a challenge. They are biting me through my clothes on all the areas unprotected by bug lotion. Giving up on making coffee, I urgently get back in the tent, hoping for some relief. We spend the next 20 minutes killing those that made it inside. At least I'm sitting down, so they can't bite my butt anymore.
I feel a meltdown coming on. My stomach is crampy. I've been sweating constantly since we got here four days ago. It's mostly been too hot to sleep. I have a ton of bug bites. Why are we doing this again? Can we PLEASE just go back to the mountains?
Finally the frequency of mosquito swatting wanes and we decide to venture outside. We take turns smacking mosquitoes on each others backs, find the DEET (so healthy) and spray it on our clothes. The mosquitoes go on to find other prey, or they are full for awhile. I can go back to enjoying the cool morning and temporary cloud cover. I resume my morning routine of making coffee, journaling, and reading. Ah, maybe for a few hours it's not so bad after all.
It's actually nice most of the day. It's not quite as hot and we've got a decent breeze. Lest the day become too enjoyable, I discover ants have gotten in my kitchen container and are all over my pans. Then I discover them in one of our food containers. The little devils got into my beloved Trader Joe's Blister Peanuts!! Those are my favorite and when are we going to be at another Trader Joe's?! Then it's nightfall and the mosquitoes are back with a vengeance. I retreat to our tent in an effort to escape the maddening whining. In the middle of the night it starts to rain and we groggily and clumsily stumble out of the tent to put on the rain fly. We batten down the proverbial hatches an lay back down in the tent when I feel something crawling on the back of my thigh inside my pants. I squish the intruder, get out my headlamp and realize it was a cricket! It could be worse, but there was a damn cricket in my pants! The joys of being outdoors continues....
I recount all of this not to complain, but rather portray a more realistic side of living outside, which is not always fun and fabulous, as many Instagrammers would have you believe. I'm very grateful for the many lovely mornings I've awakened to since we've been on this journey. The social media worthy sunrises and sunsets. The perfectly cool, bug-free mornings, leisurely sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. Fortunately, the good days outnumber the bad. The bug bites will go away. Sometimes experiencing some discomfort and misery is necessary to really savor days full of great weather and simple creature comforts.