I just don’t get camping

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We arrived home from our little camping trip around lunch-time yesterday.

To be completely honest with you, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was expecting.  It wasn’t great either, but still not too bad.  That being said, we didn’t REALLY go camping.  We camped in a caravan park / campsite at Gold Coast’s Main Beach which is surrounded by high-rises. The park had a swimming pool, a little shop for grocery items, wi-fi internet access, public showers/toilets, a playground and if you couldn’t get all the stuff you needed at the park, it was only a short walk to other shops… and the beach was literally across the road.

So when I think of camping, I think of being in the middle of nowhere, no facilities and all you have to survive on is what you’ve brought with you or can find/construct/kill using MacGyver-style equipment such as a coathanger, some gum and a pocket knife.

Funnily enough, when I mention such things to people who enjoy camping, they tell me I have it all wrong.  They explain that you can get camping fridges that are powered by your car battery or a generator, you can take bbq’s, ovens and cooking equipment that is more advanced than what I have at home, comfortable beds that inflate by themselves, bug zappers and other anti-pest items, lights, music and the list goes on and on. The thing that puzzles me is that if you’re going to go to all the effort of packing-up a 4×4 and a trailer with all these items to make the bush/mountains/outback seem more like home, why not just stay at home, or save yourself the effort of packing a truckload of stuff when you could just find a hotel that has all these facilities.

Anyways, but we didn’t have many of those camping mod-cons, which is why it was good that we chose to go faux-camping in suburbia.

The first night was brilliant.  I was crapping myself wondering how on earth we were going to put up a tent because prior to this trip the only things I’ve put-up are bookshelves from Ikea.  The tent’s instructions were in broken-English, the diagrams were crap, but surprisingly, it all seem to fit together reasonably intuitively and we had the tent errected in about 30 mins.

We then pulled-out our $12 gas camping hotplate thingie that we picked-up on sale from K-Mart the day prier, and cooked ourselves some rissoles for dinner and then proceeded to sit on our little beach chairs drinking and chatting until we decided to call it a night.

The following morning we awoke at about 5am to howling winds and rain.  After resecuring the tent and checking everything (not that I knew exactly what we were supposed to be checking) everything looked fine, so we went back to bed until about 7am when it was so windy we thought we were going to get blown away.  So we got-up, had some baked-beans for breakfast (because that seemed like the thing to do when camping) and then packed away the tent and sat in the car wondering what we were going to do for the next 5 hours until the dance music festival (Summerfieldayze) was set to start.  So like all mature responsible adults stuck with a boot-full of alcohol and plenty of time to kill, we decided to start drinking again.

This filled the time nicely.

We then walked to the parkland where the festival was, listened to dance music mixed by the likes of Ferry Corsten, Armin van Buuren, Calvin Harris, Digitalism, Underworld (and the list goes on) for about 6 hours before walking back to the campsite and picking-up some pizza for dinner.  This time it only took us about 10mins to re-erect the tent and we were in bed and snoozing within no time.

The next day there was no rain, no wind or anything other than the sun, heat and sound of kids from the surrounding campsites to wake us.  Left-over pizza for breakfast before being joined for lunch by Kristy’s Mum, her partner Pete and Caleb.  After spending the afternoon chilling with them, Kristy’s Mum and Pete went home and Caleb camped with us for the remaining couple of nights.

The next couple of days were filled with long walks on the beach, building sand castles, playing in the sand dunes, salad sandwiches on the beach watching the waves roll-by, swimming, card-games by torchlight and more beans for breakfast.

All of the above activities were great.  What wasn’t so great is that although we had a 3-man tent (and Caleb technically only takes-up the space of half-a-man), it was incredibly squishy and by the final night, I couldn’t handle it and decided to sleep in the car.  We had a little camping mattress thingie, but it’s only a few inches thick and although it was fine for the first couple of nights, the rest of the time it’s just painful and feels like you’re sleeping on rocks.

Then there’s the shared showers that are great for washing-off the sand, but I like a nice hot relaxing shower and you just don’t get that same sense of comfort when you’re washing in a little public cubicle in your thongs (or flip-flops / jandals / slappers etc. to my international readers).

The only reading I do is of blogs and I usually spend most of my spare time bumming around on the internet or playing computer games.  I tried doing this via my mobile phone but it’s just not the same on a slow 3G internet connection and a 2-inch screen… plus after a few hours of work, the thing needs charging again.  And I’m not the only one that needs digital entertainment -  it should be noted that kids (and my friend Con) require constant amusement, so in between all the little activities above, we were constantly nagged with “I’m bored”… “what can I do now”.  Thankfully he bought his Nintendo DS which helped fill some of the boring bits.

So by the end of the 4th night, I was ready for home.  I hadn’t slept well or showered properly for days, all my clothing seemed to have sand in it, I was sunburnt, my lips constantly tasted like I’d been making-out with a salt shaker, I was crankey, fidgety and generally suffering from technology withdrawal… and all of this was from a few days sleeping in a tent in suburbia.  I’d hate to see what I’d be like if I had no facilities, no technology and couldn’t buy take-out for dinner every second night.

Would I go camping again? Sure… but only for short weekend trips, otherwise I’d need a bigger tent, a better mattress, some power for my laptop so I could remain geeky while in the wilderness and lots more alcohol.  But really, I’d rather save myself the time and effort and just find a nice hotel/motel.  Yes it would cost a lot more, but it would also mean a lot less stress, hard work and would be a lot more comfortable – after all, isn’t that why people go on holidays in the first place – to have a relaxing break.

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  1. Pete you would have died at Fraser Island with us.

    Not only did we have no mobile phone coverage we had no showers (aside from the solar variety) no toilets….we became one with nature on many levels 🙂 and I think I managed to give myself a complete sand exfoliation over the 6 days we were there…it didn’t matter how many times I solar showered or brushed off the sand it was always there !! And don’t get me started on the whole sand in the bed deal….All in all though we had a great time. I would have to say it sounds like we may have had a little more fun than you guys but I will put that down to having a few more camping necessities than what you guys had….like an air mattress and BBQ. If you’re keen you guys should come with us to Fraser next time 🙂

    Oh I must mention though that we did get to have a proper shower and use a proper toilet when we weren’t at our camp site…you see not to far up the beach was a camp ground with facilties so it’s not really as bad as I was saying but close 🙂

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