Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Camp Jen

The title of this could be the name of the camp i hope to one day open, or just a command to myself (if I hated using commas, which i do NOT).

This summer I made a goal to go camping a lot.  I went three times, Sean and Julian went four times.

Let's make a list of reasons why I like to camp:

1. Love to be dirty in an environment where it's ok, it's expected.  In real life, I kind of hate being dirty. But when I'm camping, I return to the good earth and become one with nature and campfires and it is all very nice and harmonious.

2. I love cooking my food in the fire.  Camp stoves are fun but I prefer the beauty, simplicity, unpredictability and danger of an open flame.  This means we try to plan campy foods and bring an old frying pan and pot.  Sean put himself in charge of the camp menu for every trip which was great, and so efficient.  See here:

3. I love making do with whatever I have.  Throwing all the supplies out there and saying, OK-- we HAVE to survive.  This is what we have.  GO.

For example, Sean and I went to wash dishes at a nearby pump.  Did we have dish soap? No.  Did we have a sponge or washcloth or scrubbing device of any kind? Nah.  We brought hotel soap and sat there as we tried to scrub scrambled eggs off the spatula full of holes.  I looked around us and said, "what if we put a pinecone inside a paper towel?"   YES.  I love this.  It worked 60% well.  Well enough.

4. I love how your standards for everything are lower.  The food is grosser, possibly not all the way cooked, possibly has fallen into the fire and ashes, but whatever-- it will still taste fine. And it does. Better than fine.  It's grosser, but better.  I also love sterilizing everything by sticking it in the fire.   Maybe I love camping because I hate cleaning my house? Some people the other day were commiserating about cleaning their baseboards and how hard it is to get behind it or around or something crazy like that.  Mentally acknowledging that I was different and no one needed to know it, I just stared quietly for a minute and then slowly slipped away.

5. I love being in nature and in the quiet.  It's not that i don't LIKE hearing strange people's conversation 4 feet away from my pillow, because believe me I do. Nor do I necessarily loathe hearing phone thefts taking place right outside my window 2 nights in a row-- i mean, that's just downright exciting! (Also, i dream of catching that punk. ME. I told some friends the other day that I think I could be happy for the rest of my life if I could just personally apprehend a perpetrator)   But sometimes it's nice to be in a place where the quiet is eerie. It kind of calms you from the inside out.

6. This year Sean proved to be Master of the 'Mallow.    When I was getting married we joked that with the new last name, what if we named a child Marshall and called him Marsh.  Marsh Morello. What seemed simply a hilarious joke at the time turned out to be some kind of weird premonition of things to come.. in a strange, roundabout and loosely related way.  That Sean would be amazing at roasting marshmallows. He gets them completely golden brown on all sides and it balloons up to the size of a small softball. Ok, a baseball. It's the size of a baseball.   We were camping with friends this summer and after a while we stopped laughing at how amazing it was and just silently revered him.

7. For now, let's stop talking about my love for camping.  Instead, let's show it.

Something I've had to accept is that eastcoast camping is NOT westcoast camping, nor will it ever be.  It's difficult.  I have to accept it, but it doesn't mean i have to understand it, because I never will, no, not EVER.   It's tragic and I feel that people here might never know what true camping really is, poor fools.   For example, this summer we camped in Connecticut for the first time and this was our campsite: 

FAIL.  Camping fail.  

Camping, for me, had to become a state of mind.  Fortunately we went with friends and could sort of pretend we weren't surrounded by millions of other people and we imagined we were sort of sheltered by trees instead of it feeling like we went camping in the park.

Connecticut Camping: -10.   Friend camping: +15.

Our favorite place is the first place we tried last summer, in High Point State Park in NJ.  Little did we know we had discovered THE best place to camp on the eastern seaboard.   We visited it again this summer. Here Julian and I are doing what we do best:

Another thing I love: Sleeping in a tent.  It's magical! It's uncomfortable! It's cozy and dewy!  I was looking at these pics and realizing they might be kind of intimate--indoor tent pictures.  But oh well, here you go anyway, because I love Julian's puffy morning face. Such a doll:

I'm also a fan of tent-hair and toddler gang signs in the morning:

The night before we had put Julian to bed and Sean and I stayed by the fire until about midnight. The clouds were darkening and a storm was a-comin'.  We hurriedly got ready for bed and put everything away. The moment we stepped in the tent and zipped it shut, the clouds burst and dumped a big fat storm on us. YESSSS!

I was so happy and everyone was sleeping but not me.  I cozied up with myself and listened to the storm, texting my mom and sisters:

One morning I woke up at 7:00 and these punks slept until NINE-THIRTY.  What the hey am i supposed to do for two and a half hours?? i had to get the fire going and make my own breakfast and everything.  Just kidding, that's a lie. I went to join my friends and "helped" make breakfast just like I used to "help" my mom make dinner back in the day.

"Here, i'll sit here and provide some breakfastmaking conversation. Do you guys need a spatula? I have a spatula." 

"I have an idea, Mom.  I'll help by providing some background music on the piano while you cook. You know, to inspire you." 

Anyway, here's the pic. Pretty cute.

We also visited the Delaware Water Gap and did some canoeing.  Hurrah!

Three cheers for Harry using Julian's binoculars.

The best part of that trip was the rainstorm we got caught in in the middle of the river. I had a poncho (I {heart} ponchos), Julian had a rain jacket, and Sean had an umbrella.  Unfortunately an umbrella isn't going to paddle that canoe so someone got soaking wet. But it was straight up magical.

On the way back from camping, we stopped and walked a bit of the Appalachian Trail.  A bunny greeted us at the entrance. See the bunny? See it?

Here am I enjoying the beauty and serenity only a field of ferns can provide. 

And here we are with feelings of foreboding and exhilaration only a ridiculously ginormous Holland Tunnel sign can provide.


Brooke said...

Jen. You are great. So is camping. To put you and camping together = magnified greatness.

)en said...

Brooke, YOU are great. It would be great if we could go camp together. Thanks for commenting on my blog. :)

Sean said...

A whole summer of camping in one post. A mash up of memories just as they appear in my mind. Also, I apologize, world, for that picture of me sleeping. And I second the thumbs up for the picture of Julian impersonating a Beastie Boy. I've never been so proud.

Ashley said...

I found this post awesome and hilarious. I especially loved the pinecone in the paper towel, the puffy morning face on that kid, and Harry using your binoculars. Good, good stuff, Jen.