I did something a little unexpected this last weekend:
I had Monday off for President’s Day, and really wanted to use the long weekend for a camping trip.
Unfortunately, because of work, Husband Saign could not join me…
On Sunday morning, I packed Ada the Dog up into Husband Saign’s truck, and we headed south to Battle Ground State Park. I chose it based on the fact that it had a lake. (This Minnesota girl feels most at home next to lakes), was not too high in elevation (no snow), and had year-round camping.
We arrived at about 1pm, and I found instructions on the message board for how to rent a primitive campsite…basically you find an unoccupied site, put your stuff on it, and then put $12 in an envelope for it. Ada the Dog and I found a pretty site in the woods on a hill overlooking the water…but I was nervous that it was too close to the picnic area. I was scared that someone might see me and realize that I was a woman alone in the woods and then try to get me. So we hiked on. None of the sites were occupied, which I found both reassuring (likely no one would notice that I was by myself), and terrifying (no one to hear my screams). Finally, I found another site I liked…farther up the path, but still overlooking the water.
We headed back to the car for our gear, and I trudged it back to the campsite. This is when I reflected on how easily I allow Husband Saign to carry heavy stuff for me. I always thought it was ridiculous when I saw women making their husband carry things for them that they could easily carry themselves. And then I got married, and realized how nice it is to have someone to carry stuff for you while you sit on your butt!
I hadn’t realized that the primitive sites would be so far from the parking area, so I hadn’t packed my gear into a nice compact backpack…instead I had to make 3 trips with my gear. Which became 4 trips because I forgot my lighter. I used my Garmin on one of the trips… .31 miles ONE WAY. I don’t mind walking, but had to pretend I was in a Spartan Race to convince myself to keep carrying all my gear without taking a break! My back and arms were aching!
I ended up buying wood from the camp host, because I had forgotten the bundle I bought at home. He realized that I was alone, and became very reassuring to me. He told me that they’ve never had any problems, but gave me his phone number in case I needed to call him in an emergency. He also told me that he’d stop by my campsite a few times to make sure that I was okay.
We explored the campground a little.
It was starting to get dark out, so all I could really do, alone in the dark with no electricity, was play guitar! This worked out okay, except that I haven’t played in so long that I was having trouble tuning my guitar by ear. I kept trying, which made it sound worse and worse. It finally got to the point where I couldn’t bear the sound of my out of tune guitar. It was about 6pm, and dark, and I was running out of wood, so I figured I’d go to bed soon.
Then the campground host came by. He felt bad for me and gave me a bundle of wood for free! I was grateful for the extra wood, because it meant I could stay up a little later…and make my fire bigger so that I could warm up some more!
I sat by the fire a little longer, with nothing to do but think. And that’s what I like about camping: Being disconnected and able to think with no distractions. I don’t think any of my thoughts were very deep. Quite a few times I remembered funny experiences that I had at summer camp as a child. Mostly, I felt grateful. Camping usually makes me feel grateful. The time disconnected, coupled with being surrounded by beautiful nature causes me to be so very thankful for the many blessings in my life.
And with a heart full of gratitude, and a belly full of marshmallows, I went to bed at 7:30pm.
It was a typical cold camping night: Warm in my sleeping bag, but bitterly cold where my face stuck out. I slept poorly as is usual while camping, and woke at 2:15am. I got out of my tent to pee, and Ada the Dog came bounding after me. I didn’t think much of this, as she’s usually a pretty good girl, but when I got back into the tent and called her, she came trotting over, and then jumped away, just out of reach.
I called her again, and she did the same thing, so I closed up the tent and enjoyed Corn Nuts and Marshmallows, figuring that she’d be back soon enough.
But, when I was done with my snack, she didn’t come back.
And then I heard the owls hooting. And it made me think of the wild animals out there who might want to eat Ada the Dog. I imagined her gallivanting through the woods, and then being clobbered by a mountain lion.
Worse, I imagined how angry Husband Saign would be if I let Ada the Dog get clobbered by a mountain lion.
I got up, unzipped the tent door, and called Ada the Dog. She ran away. What a naughty girl!
I left the tent and walked in the opposite direction of where she had run. She came trotting after me, but quickly turned and ran away when I looked at her.
I realized that I was at a serious disadvantage here: Ada the Dog is an animal with an animal nose and animal senses. And I was a scared human, who could only see about 10 feet in front of me with my headlamp. (I could only tell where Ada the Dog was because her creepy animal eyes glowed in the light).
I went back into bed, knowing that Ada would likely be ready to come to bed soon, and praying that she did not get eaten by a mountain lion in the meantime.
Sure enough, as soon as I laid down, I could hear Ada the Dog trotting around the tent. She smashed her nose up against the tent door like she wanted to come in.
I unzipped it.
She ran away.
3 times she did this.
Finally, I unzipped the door into a little slit that I knew she could slide in through without my help, giving her the illusion that I could care less whether she came or went.
This did the trick. Within a minute, she had slid in through the crack in the door, and was curled up in her bed.
That infuriating gray dog!
Then, we packed up in the freezing cold, and I got to carry all of our camping gear back down to the car. Then we drove home. A short trip, but relaxing none-the-less.
I am grateful that I got away for a night. I am grateful for my (sometimes naughty) partner in crime, Ada the Dog. I am grateful for the kind campground host who helped me to feel safe when I felt vulnerable. I’m proud of myself for going on an adventure by myself. I only wish that I could go back in time to tell Single Becky to not be afraid to have great adventures solo.
Do you like camping? What is one thing that you’ve done by yourself that you were nervous to do on your own?