Camping and I are not good friends, but Trickey adores it. He has taken great strides to improve our camping adventures.
Our first camp event (when I write camp event, I expect something with Drag Queens and going to a gay bar with the girls, but apparently Trickey envisions something quite different.) Trickey drove us there in his crinkle cut Torana (so called due to the Smiths Chips pattern on the side door from the "driving into a tree" activity) with a small tent, a sleeping bag and a slab of beer.
Being more familiar with my Dad's version of camping, I foolishly assumed there would be food, mattresses, chairs, toilet paper and that the weather conditions would have been considered. I did find a half eaten packet of BBQ shapes in the car, which made the difference between my throwing a full on tantrum with loud demanding to be returned home immediately and my staying to see how it would go.
Beer makes me ill. It requires mammoth amounts of water for improvement. Forunately there was a running creek near the campsite. No cups. I got in trouble several times for dislodging the motorbiking male's cooling stashes of beer during my ventures into the creek for hydration.
Sobriety did not enhance the night. Sitting on the rotting wood log that my beloved provided for my seating was a continuing form of anticipatory torment, as it was still full of wriggling and occasionally biting life forms.
I had been assured the company of other females, not being very comfortable around males in general. It was so lovely to see my ex-flatmate and her best friend, to revel in the charming conversation with someone whom I enjoyed a state of mutual detestation.
The fumes of the various motorbikes, some in a state of mid repair at the campsite, mingled beautifully with the smoke from the massive bonfire that this restrained group considered sufficient. The clear mountain air I had been promised was available, if I walked far enough away from our group. The aroma did wonders for my joy in this adventure.
The crowning moment for me, however, came slinking in the early hours of the night. Trickey had stolen the entire undone sleeping bag (I should've taken note of this for future bedding expectations, once a Doona thief always a Doona thief) and smooshed me over to one side to be squished up against the tent fabric. I could not move him, so I merely snuggled as close as I could for his body warmth and lay in abject misery, awaiting the warmth of sunrise.
Then the rain began.
Then the rain soaked through the thin tent material.
And soaked me.
After several hours, enough sunlight allowed me to leave the tent with some hope of avoiding the nocturnal webs and the obstacle course of motorbikes, eskies and random logs. I made my way to the fire and proceeded to create a respectable blaze and dry out a little.
Trickey finally awoke and a great trip was planned to a nearby town for hamburgers and other forms of sustenance.
This ordeal has scarred me for decades, with Trickey devising improvement after improvement to his camping style in hopes that I may once again find joy in camping.
So today, we have a large canvas tent, totally water proof. With a patio. Aussie to the core! The interior is filled with a very comfortable mattress, my own sleeping bag and favourite pillow... and he sleeps against the tent wall these days.
A lovely little table set up, with a camping stove and billy for my early morning tea. And lunch time tea. And aftenoon tea. Three Eskies of varying size. Several quite delicious recipes to delight the palate. A large crate full of cooking neccesities, sunscreen and the most important aerogard. I must also mention we are at a caravan park with toilets and showers. ESSENTIAL!
Sitting here, in the shade of my patio, listening to the sounds of delight Trickey, his brother and our Princess are making down by the river, sipping a cuppa peppermint tea, my feet up, surrounded by gorgeous ferns, eucalypts and oaks, ducks waddling by, a tiny creek mere feet from me, I realised that he had finally done it. I wasn't miserable, uncomfortable or unhappy. While I wanted to go home, that is an ever present feeling within me and I could ignore it.
With this level of comfort, I can be a camper. This is my lowest level for contentment.
It is good.
He did it!
(Above written on Trickey's iPhone while enjoying myself at our campsite)
(Below written on my own adored MacBook, in my nice, warm home, with a tabby Diva and new Kate Bush album providing excellent distractions)
NB. I told him all I wrote that evening. As we sat and ate our cold dinner on the patio and watched the rain begin. Then the wild thunder and lightning, I quite enjoyed being part of something so elemental.
Then the hail. Which made me cry for our Beautiful EK out in the rain, having nasty things thrown at her from the clouds.
But I was still happy. I was using some emotional energy to stay calm, as I knew while this moment was exciting, I would be paying for it once the dark came. Once the rain made me feel trapped inside that tent. Once getting out to go to the toilet, or just wander in the night, as I always do, was going to be cold, wet and miserable.
And after waking before first light, staring at the tent ceiling as I have done on so many other camping events, just waiting for enough light to go and start the fire and begin warming my soul and my toes, I was deprived even that, as no fire was going to start in that downpour.
The other thing that makes Camping okay by me, these days? That we stay close enough to home so I can go home when it all becomes too overwhelming. The sun is out, my cat is happy, soon, soon, I will convince myself to drive back to my family and our campsite for one last day by the river.