“Jen” and “camping” are not two things that mix very well. I do enjoy being outdoors, when the weather is decent. I always love hanging out and socializing in and out of town, day and night. I love watching my kids run and play, free and wild and safe. I don’t even mind sleeping in a tent for one night.
But I don’t enjoy camping in general. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s not having a private bathroom immediately at my disposal in which to brush my teeth or wash my face. I have tried to figure out these last two years just what it is I don’t like about camping, while so many others enjoy it.
I’m not a wimp; I commercial fished in Alaska for years and paid for my college education that way. Actually, commercial fishing was perfect for me! I could be in the rugged nature of Alaska, explore remote islands, bounce and roll with the ocean, and embrace the solitude and peace.
But on the boat, I could also shower. Alone. Brush my teeth. Shave. I had the best of both worlds; I was in the midst of nature most people don’t experience, but also with a few regular comforts.
There are a group of families from Larrabee Elementary that gather to camp a few times a year. While George, a fishing captain and Eagle Scout, eagerly gathers our two oldest children and gear for the adventures, I have never gone. I’ve always had my baby, Valerie. I’ve also always had my reservations about camping.
This last Memorial Day weekend camping trip with all the families to Lake Wenatchee outside of Leavenworth, Washington, though, had me curious. What will they do? Where will they go? What will I miss if I don’t go?
I made reservations at a cabin nearby. I wasn’t going to camp, but Val and I would be close. We could come hang with the gang during the day and early evening, and then retire to our cabin a few miles up the road, to our bed and shower….or so I thought. As it turned out, the cabin did not work out. After several unexplainable hints, I realized that something beyond me was telling me to leave the cabin, and to leave now. So I did.
It was not just the remoteness of the cabin that had me rattled, but an additional feeling telling me to go. So, even though I’d already paid nearly $300 for the lodging and received the key, I buckled Valerie back up in her car seat and headed to the camp site where George and the whole group were set up. I felt confused, sad, and out of my element. And tired, after a three-hour drive.
George took one look at me and said to forget the cabin.
“Why don’t you try and call the lodge we stayed at last winter?” he suggested.
“I doubt they have any rooms left,” I replied. I called the Beaver Valley Lodge, anyway. I liked the lodge, and it was nearby the campground. When we joined several families for a winter trip in Leavenworth/Plain last winter, we stayed there. I felt safe and cozy there.
As it turned out, someone had JUST cancelled their single room at the lode just before I called, so Valerie and I were able to get in. And, for a price much less than the cabin.
One of my friends (who was camping) drove with me back to my original cabin to get my things out of it and return the key. I had to pay the cost of the cabin in full before receiving the key, so she was also going to try and help me get some of my money back for not staying there after all. Unfortunately, it did not work out and I was out $300.
I high-tailed it to the Beaver Valley Lodge. I’d felt rattled, shaken, tired, and generally off most of the day. By the time I arrived at the Beaver Valley Lodge, I felt calm. Happy. Relieved. I don’t think it was a coincidence that a room perfect for Valerie and me happened to open up just when I needed it. And our front desk helper was fantastic. She was kind, helpful, and even walked us to our room.
I knew then the camping trip was going to work out after all. I fell asleep peacefully each night and woke up to a view of pastures, barns, farm houses, and mountains. Val and I visited the Lake Wenatchee camp site and all the friends, and then returned to our room. When my Eva got sick one night and threw up in the tent shared by her father and brother, she came and stayed with me at the lodge.
I read a book, blew bubbles with Val on the lodge porch, visited the General Store and Hardware Store for food and treats, and also used the laundromat. I did not get to enjoy the camping trip the same way as all the others, but I certainly enjoyed the weekend. I got to watch my two girls nap side-by-side. I visited the campsite, enjoyed visitors at the lodge, read, rest, and slept.
While I didn’t officially camp, and still don’t have a full understanding of what exactly these Larrabee family camping trips entail, I left the weekend feeling happy, satisfied, and grateful for the weekend I did have.