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I Hate Camping

Posted Monday, April 1, 2013 in: Nerd Life

There, I said it. I am not a happy camper.

Mr Nerd and I just got back from a one-night camping trip on a northern beach. There were some great moments and it was beautiful. But why does everyone love camping so much? Why do people act like I am the crazy one for not liking camping? What is so fun about getting sticky and dirty and getting sand in places there shouldn't be sand and not being able to feel clean?

Nala and Buster playing at our Easter weekend camp spot.

ABOVE: Jonesy's new Cavalier King Charles x Beagle puppy, D'Artagnan.

I was greatly offended once when Mr Nerd told me I was “homely”. After a bit of light screaming I worked out he didn’t actually know that homely meant ‘not attractive or good-looking’, and that he had meant I like to spend time at home and do stuff around the house like baking and making a veggie garden and watching movies. That is true. (I was still gravely offended).

Ok, so my days of dancing on a table are over. Not that I have ever danced on a table, but I have begun a conga line at my aunty Anja’s 40th birthday party at my uncle’s pig farm in Germany and that is the same sort of thing. But I realise there is a reason I write a house blog because I do love being in a house. I like feeling comfortable and clean and knowing where stuff is.

I’m not sure if camping is something you have to do as a kid to enjoy it as an adult because we never went. We never even camped out in our backyard because my parents said we would get eaten by mozzies. When we went on family holidays we stayed in hotels or with family. The closest I ever got to roughing it was at school camp when I nearly cried because the pillow looked like someone had shat on it.

This Good Friday was my second time camping (and my last, Mr Nerd vowed, although he said that after the first time).

The first time I camped was two years ago when I was 25. We went to Shark Bay which is about 13 hours away. Initially I got all excited. I loaded the car with tiny foods filled with preservatives; little packets of Doritos; tiny packets of Tiny Teddies. Five hours into the drive I vowed I would never go camping again. I guess it is like what people say about childbirth. You forgot the pain after a while and want to do it again.

On top of the monotonous drive, it was about 40 degrees. There was like ONE TREE at Shark Bay, waist-high, and it wasn’t at our campsite. I essentially boiled to death. The showers at the campsite gave you electric shocks and the toilets looked like they would give you the clap. On the third day of camping I burst into tears and Mr Nerd said tiredly he would take me home early.

So I was not that keen on going camping again when our friend sent out an email with the aim of rallying a group to head north once again.

“There has been some rumblings/interest for an overnight camp on the Easter Long Weekend,” he wrote.

“Now, I know that some of you shudder when you think of camping, so here is my advice to you… it’s one night! The weather will be great, the location will be great, the company will be great and it’s important to make an effort. Also remember that it’s not going to be like Shark Bay when it was 42 degrees and 12 hours drive away. So here’s the plan...(I have even bolded all the important points for those who can’t be bothered reading.)”

I skim read the rest but I had vague suspicions this section was directed at me. Probably because two days before this email went out C had exploded at me at a party and shouted, “Maya! You can go camping for ONE NIGHT! Stop being so prissy!”

So I went to prove I can stop being so prissy. One hour into the drive I wish I hadn’t and I could tell Mr Nerd was regretting taking me. But I blame my bad-temperedness on HIS CAR.

Mr Nerd drives a car from the same era as our house - a 1975 FJ40 Land Cruiser. Some people love these cars so much people actually stop him wanting to talk to about it. At petrol stations people check out the car like they would an attractive woman in a pencil skirt. In the car park at Bunnings men hurry over to give Mr Nerd their phone number scribbled on a scrap of paper “in case you ever want to sell the car one day.” When we go on road trips families pass us on the road and you can see them all looking at us and grinning, the dad laughing and gesturing, getting his nostalgia on. Sometimes little kids wave at us from the backseat. Driving in the FJ is the closest experience I have ever had to feeling famous.

But I would just like to say that all these people are BLISSFULLY UNAWARE of what this car is really like on long drives in hot weather. It’s a fun car to drive on short trips to the beach, like a jeep. But long road trips in summer? When we drive fast Mr Nerd’s car is so loud you have to yell to be heard above the engine.

And there is no air conditioning. On hot summer days the bottom of the car gets so hot I basically start to roast. It is like being in a giant slow cooker in a jet engine. I had my iPhone in my bag on the floor of the car. I took the phone out and it told me that the phone had gotten TOO HOT to function and I needed to let the phone cool down before I could use it. I couldn't even take a snapshot of my screen to SHOW you.

ABOVE: This is an example of how hot Mr Nerd's car gets. After LAST year's Easter, when we drove six hours back from Albany, I nearly MELTED - and my Easter bunny definitely did. It has gone from tasty-looking chocolate animal to something most unappetising.

ABOVE LEFT: One of the many, many bank-ups of cars we caused going camping.

And when I said before we “drive fast”, fast means fast for the FJ. The FJ is so old it cannot go faster than 80km an hour. Every time we have gone on a road trip, scores of cars bank up behind us for miles like we are leading a funeral service of four wheel drivers. When we get to a double lane, everyone passes us. I am not even embarrassed about it anymore. I just take photos of it instead, to Mr Nerd’s embarrassment.

So I was in the car, slowly roasting to death like a pig in a sauna, and we passed a sign saying our destination was 100km away.
“But look at the time!” I said in astonishment to Mr Nerd as we rumbled along at 80km an hour. “We’ve been driving for two and a half hours already. Why aren’t we there yet? You said it would take two hours to drive there.”
“Yeah, two hours in a normal car.”
I almost wept. “WHYYYY did I come camping?” I wailed. “WHYYY don’t you put air con in this car. You are COOKING me.”
“I said in the beginning you shouldn’t have come!”

It escalated into a screaming match that continued for ten minutes whilst people in nice modern air-conditioned cars smiled and waved at us as they passed. Finally Mr Nerd pulled over. His mouth was set in a firm line. He kicked me out of the car and folded down the bench seats and shoved my doona to the side so I could sit in the cooler back seat. I was much happier there.

And when we finally arrived let me tell you this beach was BEAUTIFUL. I think Western Australia has some of the most gorgeous beaches I have ever seen. This spot was worth the four wheel drive out. I swam in the cove and then I sat on the shore and little white fish nibbled my toes. I totally get the whole going to secluded beautiful spots, relaxing bit of camping. It was heavenly.

Playing with the dogs was fun. Jonesy brought his new puppy D'Artganan. Charades was funny, the mulled wine and American Honey was good. And cooking dinner on the little gas cooker was fun, when the nearby sand dune wasn’t blowing into my chevups. 

But I don’t understand why we don't just hire nice clean holiday accommodation and then go on four-wheel-drive day trips to pretty spots so you can come back and shower afterwards and feel like a human again, not an angry bear with B.O. When you are on holiday you should get to your destination and just relax. When you go camping you drive hours through desert to get somewhere and then when you arrive you have to make a camp and blow up an air mattress and cook.

Even going to the toilet is annoying. You can barely find a quiet bush to just pee behind because two of the dogs follow you and then stand there staring at you while you go. And then one of them (I’m not pointing at anyone, but Buster is a weird dog) then bustles over and pees importantly over the spot you just went on, staring at you the whole time.

ABOVE LEFT: Buster, who has an irrepresible streak. 

The next morning I woke up with a backache and a crook neck to find that the air mattress had no air in it. I staggered out of the tent like Quasimodo and wandered over to Mr Nerd who was drinking a Get Up and Go (by the way, my second camping experience involved trying this stuff for the first time and it's revolting). “That air mattress is shit,” I said to him grumpily. “There’s no air in it.”
“That’s because I let the air out an hour ago so we can make an early start,” Mr Nerd replied.
“But I was still sleeping!”
“It needed time to deflate.”

ABOVE: Nala careening towards me after going on the boat and not having seen me for two hours. I know it looks like she is about to attack, but seriously this is actually her extremely happy face.

Finally we were leaving because Mr Nerd had to race the next day. “Goodbye everyone!” I cried. It was a beautiful day and I felt light-hearted. Just then Minnie the kelpie ran around me, wrapping her lead around my foot and tearing off, yanking my leg with her. It was only because I managed to grab onto Mr Nerd that I didn’t completely stack it. Everyone cracked up. As I righted myself I suddenly realised that Buster, the you-pee-and-I’ll-pee-over-it-dog, had wandered over to stand right next to me in the meantime and I promptly tripped over him.

Mr Nerd told me I was the worst camper ever.

I kind of wish I enjoyed the camping process more, because it made me feel sad to realise that my daydreams of winning Survivor will probably just be daydreams, and that my survival plans for what I would do if The Walking Dead ever happens will only be survival plans, because the truth is I would probably just get voted out in the first week or eaten.

But this place was so beautiful, and in some ways camping was still fun. So we are all making plans to go camping again, this time in a forest. “You’ll like camping the third time,” my friend promised me. Wish me luck nerds. Hope you all had a wonderful Easter break x

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