I took Emma camping in the fall and it was the best weekend. She did great. I did great. My friend Peter and his daughter did great. The whole thing was just great. Great!
Anyway, I’m sorry it took me this long to get around to sharing it. But hey, squeezin’ it in before the end of 2020!
Emma loves life and gets excited about every little mundane quarantine thing we can come up with. So when I told her we were going camping (!) and hiking up a cliff (!!) with her BEST FRIEND (!!!), her head nearly popped off her shoulders. And her excitement never went away. Not during the three-hour car ride to Wisconsin, or when we put her on a rocky ledge of a hiking trail. It didn’t even wane when I put her to bed on the ground for the first time in a tent in 30-degree rainy weather. She loved every minute of it, and I was just so proud. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to spend my days with such an incredible kid, and I’m so excited for all the fun things we’re going to do together from here on out.
My mom used to take me and my brothers camping every summer in Wisconsin, and she deserves some kind of award. And why are all three of us boys looking in the totally wrong direction in this picture? Also, check out the Vulcan nerve pinch she’s applying to me? I must’ve been a real jerk as a kid. Sorry, Mom!
This is all a roundabout way to say that I love camping. Unfortunately, Kelly does not. I know this because every time I bring it up she becomes angry and says stuff like “What is wrong with you?” “I like beds.” and “Have fun with your mountains, Mountain Man.”
Edit: I do not say these things. But yeah, I’m not sleeping in tents anytime soon. 😆 Unless they’re glamping tents.
So when our “bubble friends” invited us to go camping, I shouted out “Yes!“… and did that jump-and-click-your-heels thing. And then I sent Emma up to tell her mom how badly she wanted to camp with her best friend. It worked like a charm, and a few weeks later, I was in an overpacked car on my way to Wisconsin singing Wheels on the Bus at the top of my lungs.
Amazon makes prepping for a camping trip super easy, especially when you have a more seasoned camper guy on the trip with you. In a fit of optimism, I ordered a four-person tent—though Kelly made a face when it arrived and had me say out loud that I will never set foot the tent. I also ordered two of these 0-degree mummy sleeping bags because I live in the midwest and, well, yeah. I then stupidly bought two yoga mats for us to sleep on for some reason, even though I don’t do yoga and the mats were super uncomfortable. You can’t win them all, though!
If you haven’t camped in 10 years, I highly recommend making friends with a camper guy. My buddy Peter knew all the tricks of the camping trade like how to book a campsite, how to set up a tent, and—most importantly—how to make coffee on a campfire. (Truly impressive.) Peter, if you’re reading this, which you’re not, but if you are (he’s not), thanks for bringing us along.
I was ASTONISHED at how beautiful Wisconsin is this time of year. We accidentally planned our trip for peak fall color, and everywhere we went just bursted with autumnal beauty. We wanted to camp at Devil’s Lake, but realized that wasn’t the safest choice, so we called an audible and camped in the much more socially distant private backyard of his parents’ nearby lake house nearby. Before you laugh (like my wife did), this was totally camping, I swear! We still hiked the area we wanted to hike, and we slept outside. We even cooked outside and shivered all night just like we’re supposed to. Stop laughing!
Oh my god. Why is everyone looking at me?!
In all serious, it was a good decision. In the end, we didn’t need to interact with anyone, as we could drive from Chicago to the “campsite” without stopping. Let’s just hope that once prime camping season is over that the pandemic is over, too… that way this is a non-issue that you won’t have to deal with!
When I got home, I motormouthed stories all over Kelly. I told her about how daring Emma was when hiking the cliffs, about running to catch the Merrimac Ferry with an ice cream cone in one arm and two little girls in the other, about watching a bald eagle catch a giant fish like 30 freaking yards away from us, about cooking delicious turkey burgers and then dropping them into the fire, and about 100 other awesome moments from our trip.
She listened intently, looked me in the eyes and firmly said, “Mitch. I’m never going camping.”