I hadn’t been camping in over ten years. After a couple of harrowing experiences involving grueling portages, canoeing through bogs and waiting for bears to eat me, I concluded that I wasn’t cut out for outdoorsy adventures. Time heals all wounds, however, and the past couple of years have worn down my anti-camping resolve.
The Sweetie and I decided to take baby steps and start with car camping. I had a cute camping outfit packed, jangly silver bangles, marshmallows and wine. I was ready for my new incarnation as a camping goddess.
My excitement turned to trepidation when I discovered a large tooth where we were about to pitch our tent. Suddenly things took on a Blair Witch overtone. Our lovely campsite immediately felt sinister.
“Is it human?”, I asked.
” I don’t know. That is totally bizarre.”
“Who would pull out a tooth on a camping trip?”
Who indeed. Perhaps it hadn’t been voluntary. I began to envision human sacrifices. Or zombies with rotting teeth roaming around the camping grounds, waiting for some fresh human flesh.
The way The Sweetie was examining the tooth and trying to sound nonchalant worried me.
“How would a tooth get here?” he mumbled to himself.
How and why? That is the question. Did it fall out of a skull? Was it brought here for some ritual, was it pulled out? Did it fall out while gnawing on something, like a human leg perhaps?
“Maybe it isn’t human. It’s pretty big.“
I could only wish that it was a bear. A bear was the least of my worries at this point.
“Forget it“, The Sweetie said, kicking the tooth aside and cracking open a beer. I could tell he was still disturbed.
I began combing the campsite, searching for more teeth or a jawbone. It wasn’t long before I discovered a tiny bone near the fire.
“What the hell is this?” I shrieked.
“That’s a chicken bone for God’s sake. Relax.”
Was it really? To me it looked like a tiny femur. Who eats chicken wings when camping? That would be so messy. I began to imagine pocket-sized teeth-pulling, plier-wielding pygmies running about, circling the campfire at nightfall.
It started to rain around the time we were making dinner. Waiting out the torrential rains in the car, holding a camping fork with dripping sausages on my lap, I reminisced about our conversation as we were packing and I was carefully placing my berry crisp in the cooler. The Sweetie had suggested rain gear. “Rain gear?” I scoffed. “It’s only one night. We’re car camping, we’ll be fine!”
I began to wonder if the rain was a warning, telling us to leave the campsite while there was still a chance to high tail it back to civilization with all of our teeth intact. I sat under a damp towel stoically eating roasted marshmallows while The Sweetie valiantly kept the fire alive. We finally tucked ourselves into our tent and I dozed briefly, only to wake up from a nightmare about a serial killer in the woods. After that my chances at sleep were shot. I was on high alert, listening for snapping branches and other ominous night sounds. The incessant rain and thunder sounded like a combination of a drum kit and a million little tap dancers on the roof of our tent.The Sweetie had instructed me not to touch the edges of the tent to avoid having rain leak in. My hips dug into the ground and felt like they belonged to a ninety year old woman as I curled carefully into the fetal position. I was scared to move for fear of flooding, and afraid to shut my eyes. It was a long night.
As soon as it was light enough The Sweetie crawled out of the tent and announced, ”I am lighting a fire, making some coffee and then we are getting out of this god forsaken place.” Those may be the sweetest words I’ve ever heard.
Maybe I am fighting my true nature. I love the idea of being a wilderness girl, communing with nature, building fires and being at one with the great outdoors. I dream of having a posse of woodland creatures. I still have hope that one day I will own a backpack and a pair of hiking shoes. In reality though, I have a fondness for soft beds, ice cubes in my drinks, scented body lotions and dry clothing. My personality is plagued with an over active imagination and a fear of spiders, bears, snakes and serial killers. I may be too prissy and neurotic for true wilderness adventures. I may be better suited for swank zombie-free resorts with well manicured hiking trails and a Sherpa to carry my urban snacks.