Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Camping Trip - Lightning, Thunder and Rain, OH MY!

First you have to understand that "the land" is 90 acres with one very rough road going into it for a short distance. And please understand that I'm being incredibly generous to even call it a "road." The area where we wanted to camp was, naturally, not next to that road. That meant parking the jeep at the end of the road and then carrying our camping supplies down a hill and then up an even bigger and steeper hill. We pared down our supplies as much as possible, but it still involved three round trips for me, and four round trips for PawPaw. Since it had been raining, several of those trips involved lugging dry firewood for the campfire. We both got a good workout making those trips.

I can "rough it" as long as two needs are met: (1) I must have a convenient and reasonably private place for me to take care of bodily functions; and (2) I must have a place that is comfortable to sleep. (All women may now voice their agreement with these two conditions!)

As soon as we determined the spot to pitch the tent, I scouted around nearby to find a potty spot. Men just have an easier time when it comes to peeing in the woods. I found a good place and made sure I could get there easily if the need should arise in the middle of the night (which it didn't, thank goodness!).

I already had a great "sleep system" worked out - Coleman twin-size air mattress, foam "egg-carton" pad, my pillow and my 30-degree sleeping bag.

So we were set. We put up the tent, cleared a space for our campfire and got the fire going. It was only 4:00 p.m. at that point. No rain so far. We simply sat by the campfire and talked for a long time -- occasionally walking around and talking about where to build a house.

The land has a lot of history to it. It is near the site of the Battle of Franklin, and troops camped out on the hill where PawPaw and I were camping. It was sobering to think of the young soldiers who had to camp there without benefit of all the modern camping supplies that we had.

By five it was dark. We started dinner. I brought everything ready to go - a small zip lock bag of chopped onions and peppers, a small package of sliced steak, and a couple potatoes. I cut the potatoes into strips, placed them in some aluminum foil and added water to it so they would steam and not burn, a little s & p and sealed it well and put it directly in the fire. Then I used my nifty little camp stove and sauteed the onions, peppers and steak - added a little worchestershire sauce for flavor. Dinner was fabulous. I always take plastic plates I bought for the grandkids when I go camping because they're the only non-glass plates I have. So I ate from a Wiggles plate, and PawPaw ate from a Hello Kitty plate.

Sitting around the campfire was nice - talking, listening to the sounds around us. We were on a high ridge and could see for a long distance all around. At one point there was gunfire (yes GUNFIRE!!!) not too far away -- 10 shots close together, then 9, then 10 again, and 10 more - we counted. Yes, it made me nervous!! It crossed my mind that if we could see for a long distance all around, then our campfire could be seen from all around, too. A blazing campfire announcing to one and all that some crazy folks were camping up on that hill!

Soon it started to lightly rain. We had put up a tarp over the entrance to the tent and out for a few feets away from it. We put our camp chairs under the tarp and continued to enjoy the fire. We put some water in a pot on the fire and made hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was perfect for such a cold rainy evening. Earlier in the afternoon as I was about to leave my house, I had thought "hmm, I might need a hat and gloves," and I went back to get them. WISE decision! I would have been uncomfortably cold if I hadn't brought them.

Around eight we went to bed. It started raining harder, and off and on throughout the night it stormed. At one point the wind was really strong and there was lots of thunder and lightning. We woke briefly but then went back to sleep.

Six o'clock this morning, we were up, and by 6:40 the fire was roaring, the coffee was perking, and we were eating our breakfast of ham and cheese and toast. We did more walking around and talking, and then headed home around nine. It was a great camping trip, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I am headed off to relax in the jacuzzi for awhile! From roughing it to luxury!

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