On Friday I left work at 3 o'clock sharp and headed to my sister's house for my first camping trip ever. All day long, people had called to cancel, so the Friday crowd ended up being me, my sister, her husband, my niece and my sister's friend, N. I was riding with N., so we packed my stuff into the back seat and trunk of her car and headed down the highway behind my sister's family.
We reached our campsite before it got dark, and my brother-in-law and I began putting up the fabulous tent my sister and N. had bought for $100 at Costco. The tent came with extremely lengthy instructions that completely failed to enlighten us at a couple of crucial junctures. Just one more diagram would have saved us a lot of wasted effort, but we eventually managed to get the monstrous, 10-person tent up and ready for habitation. It was dark by the time we finished, but I had brought a battery charger/air compressor/flashlight unit, and we used the powerful flashlight as needed.
The tent had one big, main chamber toward the back with its own entrance, and a smaller room at the front with a separate entrance. It came with a curtain that I used to wall off a portion of the big chamber so that I had, in effect, my own bedroom. While others started a campfire, I unrolled the cheapo "self-inflating sleeping mat" I'd purchased. Nothing happened. I pored over the limited wording on the bag for some hints and searched the mat itself for additional instructions. Nothing. It had a valve of sorts at one end, so I goofed around with it for a while, but eventually gave up and just laid my sleeping bag over the flat, wrinkled mat and resigned myself to sleeping more or less directly on the ground.
By then the fire was going, so we roasted hot dogs on metal skewers. Nobody minded that they were all burnt on the outside and lukewarm on the inside. After that, we made s'mores and I quickly discovered that one was plenty. I wanted to drink one of my beers, but I'd foolishly brought Fat Tire, which doesn't have screw-off tops, and nobody had a bottle opener. Luckily, I'd also brought some hard cider, so I drank one of those.
We sat around the campfire and chatted contentedly for the rest of the evening, enjoying the sounds of the frogs and crickets, punctuated occasionally by the sound of the porta-potty door slamming (we'd chosen a campsite across the road from a convenient pit stop). It was a great first night of camping.
Tomorrow: An early wake-up call