DH looking proudly on at his efforts. Tiny tent for me and him, big tent for trio. Please notice the sheer amount of random crap strewn about the place.Late on Sunday afternoon, I had a minor tantrum about this whole camping business. My lounge room was chock full of mystery bags filled with mystery sticks and mystery rolls of material, and I was NOT HAPPY about any of it. I could not believe the sheer amount of crap we needed to load up just for the pleasure of sleeping on hard grass, in a suburb twenty minutes away. To put this into perspective for you, we drive a station wagon ...and the ENTIRE back was chock full of stuff. So much so that when you dared open the back door, random crap would rain down on you.
DH, in a moment of humour, pointed out that if we were going for a week rather than just overnight, it would be the same amount of crap we'd have to lug with us. This is why I don't do camping. It's not a vacation, it's an endurance test.
So we trundle out to SSOTH - kids in high spirits, me looking forward to getting some topics for blogging - and prepared ourselves for 24 hours of....experience. The good news is, we managed to arrive and get ourselves set up with no problems at all. Mostly DH and DS did all the hard work, while the DDs ran around like crazy people, and I attempted to help but really just got in the way a lot. It was a gorgeous, sunny Melbourne Sunday. Hot enough that icy poles were in order (although, this being Australia, icy poles are *always* in order). It was really stinking hot, but we were all determined to have a great time even though none of us cope well in the heat. Once we got all set up (Oh! So THAT'S what those sticks are for!) DD1 and I decided to check out some of the activities and headed for the painting tent.
On the way there, DD1 looks at me and says, "Oh, that's funny, I thought I felt a droplet of water land on my head." Looking up, there was not a cloud in the sky, so we both shrugged and kept going. We were in the painting tent for about 20 seconds when KABOOM! - the sky opened up and the heavens pissed down on us. Not normal rain - the kind of rain which looks like a wall of water. DD1 was happy, I was happy - but we were trapped in that damn tent looking out at the people who were either enjoying the downpour (the kids playing soccer) or not enjoying it (the parents rushing to batten down the hatches.) That ant song played in my head for a while..."The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah..." as we watched what seemed like hundreds of little tiny Jews all running for cover.
I'm pretty sure this was god playing a biblical joke on all us Jews out there in the middle of that school oval...because it was funny as hell watching all the people secure their weather covers, realise they forgot to peg down their tents and run to keep their temporary homes from blowing away, and sadly come to understand that the tent which has been in storage for the last ten years is in fact no longer weather proof.
I'm not going to lie. It was really fucking funny to watch.
The rain did eventually ease up a bit - but basically it rained for all of the rest of that day and most of that night, varying from "...and thar she blows!" to just a light sprinkle. Apparently a couple of families literally upped sticks and went home. Some families - and I love these people - decided to abandon their tents right where they were and just go home for the night, only to return in the morning to retrieve their tents. The guy across from us was one of those people. The poor chap spent hours putting his tent up - because the string on the sticks broke and so he had to MacGyver them together with sticky tape - and then ended up going home about an hour later. When he got back the next day, he said, "Well, it's not like home was all that far away anyway!" and vowed to try again next year. The organisers did their best to make a bad situation bearable, so most of the activities and events moved indoors and we all just coped as best we could. As I pointed out to one woman, "You know, at least it makes a good story!"
Then there were the people who hired tents but the tents were not delivered with sticks at all. Then the guy whose first tent had a massive hole in it (a problem only when it storms...oh wait...it did storm) and whose second tent (that he ran out to buy once the storm started) also ripped to shreds when he tried to unzip the doorway.
Truly, all the rain and madness just added to the excitement and craziness of it all. Yes, a bunch of the planned stuff just didn't go ahead, and yes, I'm pretty sure drowned rat was not the look I was going for, and yes, my DD2 has a big fat whinge about it...but damn, it was funny. Of course DH and I's reaction to this was to a) laugh and then b) head to the nearest supermarket for supplies of umbrellas, magazines, and junk food and then come back to camp, properly set up for the experience. Later that night I volunteered to help cook dinner - and let me tell you, it's actually quite fun bbq'ing several hundred chicken skewers in a see-through t-shirt while your hair drips water onto the hot plate. Sidenote - it was me and 4 other men doing the bbq'ing duties, and every one of those men was not happy about me encroaching on the boys' club. No, I don't need help. No, I don't need you to relieve me of my duties because it's hard work. Yes, I know how to check when chicken is cooked through. No, I wouldn't rather be in the kitchen with the other women making salads. No, I don't need you to relieve me of my duties because it's wet out here. No, I don't know why a woman would volunteer for bbq duties either, except maybe because she's both capable of it and enjoys it. Yes, I appreciate that the bbq is the only place in your house where you have any control at all and therefore you want that control here, too. Yes, you have a big penis because you can cook over hot coals. (Okay maybe that last one wasn't said. But the one before it certainly was, and not by me!)
The whole thing was just one big long freakin' hilarious event and I truly loved every single moment of it (except possibly the amount of dragging and carrying and work which was involved in setting up a place to sleep. Me, I prefer check-in/keys/lay on bed.)
I will say this, though - the next day dawned bright and mostly dry and we finished the event on a high note. I didn't Zumba (but did seriously consider it), and I didn't swim (because it was a kids thing), but I did wake up at 7am mostly refreshed and feeling pretty happy about life. Of course, my hips might never be the same (damn, grass is HARD). I did wake up and proceed to lay in my two-man tent, snuggled into the arms of my DH, eat Pringles for breakfast and read Who Weekly magazine and think, right in that moment, life could not possibly get any better.
...but if you think my ass would actually attempt this somewhere further than 20 minutes away, in a place with actual bugs and dirt, with no working toilets...well, no. Because holidays are meant to be about relaxation, not survival.