Published Friday, October 19, 2012
We went camping for the first time in several years last weekend. The fall leaves in the northern part of Alabama weren’t in full color when we arrived on Friday but by Sunday they were pretty impressive.
There was stuff we forgot – like the camp stove – but we made do with a low tech backpacking stove that Ninja Man apparently carries around in case of a cooking emergency. We managed to fry bacon on it, which qualified the entire trip a huge success. Any campsite I’m in must have the scent of bacon frying in the morning even if I’m the one frying it.
Our tent was functional and unbelievably clean without kids running in and out. The only problem was getting up and down with knees that are at least ten years older than the last time I camped. Days later I’m still creaking and crackling.
There were two particular things that made the trip absolute perfection. The first was my Saturday morning coffee. I woke up to the sound of folks talking. It’s not unusual in a public campsite to hear all kinds of noises when just a thin film of tent fabric is separating you from the wild. Getting off the inflatable mattress was probably comical, but I was half asleep and all I recall is rolling off and then trying to stand from the position of being on hands and knees on the floor of the tent.
I unzipped the door and was greeted with the best cup of coffee I’ve had in ages. Ninja Man makes awesome camp coffee. The next hour was spent sitting in a folding chair, sipping my hot drink and chatting with the folks nearby even though I was still wearing my PJ’s with feet in them. Yes, I have those and I wear them camping. All in all, it was a wonderful morning with just the perfect chill in the air, hot coffee in hand, sitting beneath trees with gold, red and orange leaves glinting in the sun.
The next most perfect moment was a nap.
There were a few hours Saturday afternoon where we had nothing to do, so I went into the tent, unzipped the windows, and with a perfect – and I mean perfect – breeze coming through, I snuggled into my sleeping bag and slept like a log.
The only concerns I had throughout the weekend were the uphill climb to the restrooms, which, unless it was in the middle of the night, wasn’t a big deal. The other concern was Critter. Combined, it made for an interesting experience.
Critter was scratching around the tarp beneath the tent just as I was planning to make an uphill climb. Little did Critter know, I had to climb that hill and I’d put it off as long as I could. I picked up my phone that not only has Ninja Man on speed dial but also has a nifty flashlight app.
It had been a few minutes since I’d heard Critter so the chances of him having left our campsite for greener pastures were pretty good. I unzipped the door and stepped out in my footie pajamas.
Critter apparently had not left at all; rather he was taking a break from snooping around our tent and was hanging out beside our truck. I didn’t see him very well but I can say without a doubt that he weighed between 9 and 237 pounds.
He took off and I did too. I wasn’t sure which way he went but my footie pajamas and me were flying up that hill like nobody’s business and I didn’t look back until the door of potty #1 was closed firmly behind me. It was all I could do to not scream all the way up that hill but somehow I managed to keep the situation under control.
I’m sure if anyone had been awake at the time to see a grown woman in footie pajamas flying up the hill to the bathhouse, but if they did they probably figured the call of nature was rather loud at campsite 29.
Once I made my way back to the tent I crawled back into my sleeping bag and ever so careful not to wake Ninja Man, I listened at the night sounds as I drifted off to sleep. Thankfully, Critter was not among those sounds and it was a good night.