Here’s a real portrait of car camping

Posted By Julie | 0 comments

This recent picture of our pristine lake-lapped, mountain-shadowed car-camping spot was worth a 1,000 words. But it was all edited.

Just outside the frame of this photo—sun drenching our seemingly private site—was an enormous RV running a generator for that night’s TV show.

Welcome to the great outdoors.

The closely cropped snapshot was a laughable illustration of what many of us seem to do when we’re on adventures: post and share the most iconic wish-you-were-here moments, in a feeble attempt to make ourselves feel good.

What few of us see is the real representation of being in the outdoors. I suddenly realized that all our in-between moments—the ones just outside the lens—added up to a hilarious series of mishaps and misadventures.

But I think this is part why we go outside anyway. Despite capturing the quintessential moments on film, it’s the rough, dirty, silly, weird, wild moments that really keep us coming back.

Maybe it’s because they’re not perfect.

We’re all fried from the hustling and fronting we do all week (yes, all of us), that when the weekend comes, camping just let’s us let it all hang out.

In keeping, I’ve compiled a ridiculous list of stuff that happened when the camera wasn’t on that weekend:

  • Instead of using our hammocks to nap or read, our children swung in them like agitated monkeys—later wrapping and inverting themselves like bats until they looked as if they might pass out.
  • The co-ed pit toilet got increasingly nasty, with folks actually missing the sole hole, until I reverted to riding my bike to “far-end” potty every time nature called.
  • The fin section of the collapsible SUP paddle sunk in the lake. Who knew? Our friends’ stranded teenagers hand-paddled back across the entire lake in tears.
  • We watched a dad at the neighboring campsite struggle to assemble his tent—and prove his manhood—for what seemed like an agonizing hour.
  • One kid tried to mountain bike a rock-pocked divot on a nearby loop trail and fell into the lake, soaking his only shoes through in the process.
  • I put a graham cracker directly on the convenient cooking grate to melt to gooey perfection the chocolate for my s’more … then promptly gagged when someone reminded me about how men typically like to “streamline” the process of extinguishing a campfire.
  • A rogue loose dog temporarily stole a sandal.
  • Our friends’ beautifully pre-marinated chicken didn’t cook evenly. I finally declared the breasts fit for eating, but jumped when my husband said pink was not good in poultry. (Who let the vegetarian inspect the meat?!)
  • My boys pee far too close to the tent in the middle of the night.

Going outdoors, if nothing else, should help us appreciate, laugh about and maybe learn from the unedited parts of life.