Ode to Camping

The first time I saw rain in Arizona was Friday night. I was nowhere near civilization, preparing to pitch a tent—nodding, because every time I camp, it rains. I thought I had an okay chance of avoiding it IN THE DESERT. But nay, it rained in Arizona on Friday night.

I like camping, although I’m not very good at it, and I don’t do it very often. The last time I camped was at a music festival. At music festivals, there are hippie kids who sell soggy (and delicious) grilled cheese sandwiches from the back of trailers. There are Porta-Potties and baby wipes in abundance. If you run out of water, you can buy it on Shakedown Alley. The mass cornucopia of illegal drugs doesn’t hurt either.

The camping we did this past weekend at Bear Canyon Lake was a bit different. At Bear Canyon Lake, you’re in the middle of nowhere. At our campground, we saw nothing but trees and sky. We heard nothing but a neighbor, shooting guns of various sizes at God knows what. We did NOT hear banjo music, and we did not come upon any bears. Still, we were in BFE, for sure.

Another difference on this camping trip? The food. I guess it was because of the group. Jake—and all of his buddies—love to cook. Strange, I know, but on their breaks at work, they compare gourmet cooking recipes. They give each other tips and ingredient adaptations. If they start a book club, I’ll begin to worry. But for now, all the talk of cooking usually ends up to my benefit, since Jake is an amazing cook. Even over coals! He made these red wine beef kabobs the first night; he made kabobs with peppers, onions, steak, and cayenne the second night. Seriously.

The highlight of the trip for me—beyond my baffling dreamless sleep BOTH nights beneath the stars—was Bear Canyon Lake itself. Bear Canyon Lake looks like it belongs up in Wyoming, at the base of the Grand Tetons. The water is deep blue—not the fake turquoise you see here in Phoenix. The deep blue is surrounded by pine trees the color of Forest Green Crayons. The water? Freakin’ cold. We didn’t seem to care. The majority of our group just kind of dove on in, swimming way out, where the sea monsters wait for snacks.

(I explained later that this is what goes through my head, even now, every time I swim in dark water. I used to have a total phobia, but it’s gotten better since I lived by the ocean in Charleston. Still, whenever I dive in, I think, “This is it. Something is going to reach up and pull you under. You’re going to be chewed in half, like Robert Shaw in Jaws. Yep, it’s coming. Anytime now …” Insane, I know. And is it more insane to think these things and stay on shore or think these things and dive in anyway?)

It was a weekend of outdoor adventures, using Mother’s Natures restroom, watching dogs hump, and yes, Johnny Walker Black. More importantly, it was a weekend away—from computers, from traffic, from stupid “High Pollution Advisories.” My beer cozies still smell like campfire, and we now have baby wipes in our house. I already miss the quiet and the calm. I miss having nothing to do but sit around a campfire, drink my beer, and talk about nothing important at all.

But, well … I don’t miss the big black beetles that sound like helicopters flying by your ear. I don’t miss trying to pee at 2 AM while holding a flashlight and fearing for my life. I love camping. I do. But I had the same sense of calm after my weekend in Vegas. I guess the important thing is just getting away every once in awhile—away from stress and responsibilities—just for a little while, every once in awhile. So where should we go next?

3 thoughts on “Ode to Camping

  1. I was at Bear Canyon Lake with a friend this weekend, too. It was the first time since I moved to AZ that I’d been up that way and I loved it. Did you enjoy the drive? And the crazy loud thunder?

    I haven’t been to enough places to advise where to go next- but I plan on making my rounds. So if you happen to stumble across a place worth mentioning, drop me a line!

  2. Ha. Oh, the drive … we took my ’96 Toyota Camry, because my boyfriend’s car is brand new and not conducive to rocks. It was an adventure. From what I recall. I was in fetal position, petting my dashboard, for most of it.

    I DID, however, love the thunder. Living out here, I miss thunderstorms. We had them at least once a week–all year long–in Charleston, SC, where we moved from. Thunder = happy Sara.

    My favorite place we’ve visited in AZ so far was Flagstaff, so if you haven’t been up there, DO IT.

    PS: Your blog is hilarious. You’ve just found a new fan. Look forward to reading more from you.

  3. I remember seeing a bunch of older cars on the way and thinking, how the hell did they get here!? Haha.

    I’ve been to Flagstaff, but haven’t spent much time there aside from one strip of bars that I’m always too drunk to remember the names of. But it does remind me of Washington state a bit as they have pine trees and four seasons.

    And thank you! Likewise, I’ll look forward to reading yours as well.

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