We went camping this weekend. It wasn't complete camping. We stayed in a bunkhouse with beds, a common kitchen, and common bathrooms. In some ways, it was actually worse than totally roughing it. All the messes left by other campers attracted mice, flies, and ants. Plus, the other campers kept eating our stuff from the frig.
Still, it was nice that we didn't have to pack a tent, although that was just about the only thing we didn't pack. Otherwise you name it, we had it: clothing and just-in-case clothing, extra pair of shoes, bedding, pillows, 1 set of towels for normal bathing, 1 set of towels for swimming, fishing gear, kite, football, soccer, catcher's mitts, books, pots, plasticware, and food for 6 people. It was like moving. It will be some time before I recover enough to do this again.
I don't know when I got so soft. There was a time, right after college, that I worked for the Peregrine Fund. I hiked up to a cliff with a partner and camped there for 2 months while a group of chicks fledged. I came down the mountain once a week to get groceries and dead quail for the peregrines to eat. That was the only time I could use a real bathroom with an actual toilet and hot water shower. The rest of the time we wet-wiped ourselves and showered from a bag of water. And we had to use latrines. You know you've left civilization when you have to use latrines.
My parents thought I was nuts to be living in the wilderness. But it was a great experience. I got to watch peregrines take flight for the first time, I got to stare at amazing scenery all day, and I learned I'm not a total wuss. I was grateful for the simplest things: a real roof over my head, a flushing toilet, a hot meal, the slightest breeze during my hike back up the mountain, a single letter in my mailbox. And I got to name one falcon after the husband, so heads up, there's a peregrine with a red band named Kevin flying around near Mount Hood somewhere.
Maybe it's my age that makes me so soft these days. I'm glad I did my wilderness bit while I was young because there is no way in Hell's Canyon (another spot where we released peregrines) I could do it now.
Reflecting on my past glory days (sad that they would include latrines), I'm thinking maybe camping isn't that bad, maybe we ought to go more primitive.
What am I thinking, clearly I need my morning caffeine.