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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Campfire Hair, Soggy Cheese, and Damp Towels

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

I just got back from our camping trip. Three adults crammed into the front of a Ford Ranger, a German Shepherd dog and camping supplies packed into the topper, and we were on our way! On the trip out on Friday we stopped often to check on the dog because this is her first long trip. I feared carsickness because shortly after I got her I couldn't go six blocks without wiping up a mess. Poor girl! So this time I was prepared with vet-recommended dosages of ginger snaps (yes, you heard me correctly), a pet travel bowl, lots of water, and the seat cover from my back seat to try to keep dog drool off the stuff in back...especially the pillows.

Well, no need to worry. She settled right down and went to sleep, although she was in an uncomfortable place. Nearing the end of the trip she got sick of being jounced around so she checked the back for a more comfortable place...and climbed up ON TOP of all the stuff. Unfortunately she blocked the driver's rear view, but we all made do.

As it was, we arrived at the campground after dark. Our friends had arrived the day before and had an adjoining site. They figured we'd run into this darkness problem and so our tent was pitched and ready, although sadly, they were not at the site when we arrived. We quickly lit a fire and set up tiki torches and lanters so that we could see to unload the truck.

Did I mention that it was very cool? We had to put jackets on. In Minnesota, it was warm and Door County, WI, it was cool (55 F or so) and dry. Very nice!

The only problem was the spiders and the poison ivy. Like a dufus, I focused too much on the dog and getting her tied up somewhere while we prepped the camp and I tied her to a tree near the tent. Since she was hunting in the woods and eating various leaves, I decided to move her quickly because I couldn't see what she was munching on. As poison ivy is prolific in some areas, I didn't want her near too much vegetation. Earlier this year I read an article about how the fluid on poison ivy (urishol) can stick to the dog's fur and contaminate people/places.

Well, I tied her to another tree and all was well. It wasn't until the next morning that I realized she MIGHT have touched the poison ivy but since it had been dark I didn't know for sure where she had been, I couldn't remember what I had reached through to grab her collar, etc. But so far, so rash yet, and I'd for certain be the one suffering at this point.

And the spiders? Yeah, this is daddy-long-legs season and they were EVERYWHERE! Maybe that's why there were no bugs...because those long leggy thinges were all over the place. Now, I realize that Daddy-long-legs really aren't spiders (look this up if you don't believe me), but most people consider them so, and they act like spiders and move like spiders...and so even if they aren't spiders they still creep me out.

Shortly after we arrived, my friend began screeching that there was the hugest spider she'd ever seen climbing on her husband. He looked over and calmly flicked the thing away, then continued holding the button on the air pump which was inflating one of the airbeds. I shuddered as only moments before, I had been sitting in his place...we had just swiched off inflation duty. EEK!

Later that evening, our other group of friends returned to the camp and shortly after he sat down at the camp fire, someone saw a spider on him and he stood, dancing around, alternately almost falling into the camp fire or into a tiki torch while trying to remove the jacket which was playing host to another very large spider.

The night was uneventful, but uncomfortable. My air mattress made a huge difference, but the dog, unaccustomed to her surroundings, paced and stared out through the tent screen which I'd left open for her. Had I not done so she would have paced even more. But we were on a slope so I felt like I was holding myself up all the time.

The ground was hard and rocky, like gravel in cement. I'm so thankful my friends told me to get an air mattress! Had they not, there is NO WAY I would have been able to sleep...I would have been sleeping in the truck.

On Saturday, after a short hike in the state park, we went north along the peninsula, exploring Door County. And yes, we found a vinyard and we bought cherries. I also purchased maple syrup, maple sugar, and some other things. We went all the way to the point, but due to our late start, we did not have a chance to take the Ferry to Washington Island. And I never got to see any lighthouses.

The last night, I had my own personal encounter with the spider-kind. The campground had a set of showers and flush toilets, which was nice...but as there were only 3 showers, 3 sinks, and 3 flush toilets, you can imagine how this place got grungy pretty quick...but it was better than the outhouse! So anyway, I had walked into the bathroom and as I was pulling my pants up, I realized there was a spider on them, looking right at me.

I wanted to scream and jump and I realized that this thing was very near bare skin and very close to actually going DOWN INTO MY PANTLEG THROUGH THE WAISTEBAND! For a a moment I froze, taking in the long spider-legs and the tan body. I'm not sure my heart beat even once..I know I didn't take a breath. I was stuck in a stall, half-dressed...I couldn't run out as I was and beg for help...and any movement might actually force the creature into hiding in my pantleg...oh nightmare of NIGHTMARES!

In the end, I just supressed my terrified scream and said in a low, strained voice, "OhGross!" and shook the loose material. The thing disappeared...I didn't even see it crawling was GONE!

That was worse, but I could see it had not gone where I feared so I finished dressing and left the stall, shuddering.

There was one of my camp-mates--she'd come with our other group of friends, and was at the sink brushing her teeth. She asked me if I was the one who said, "OhGross", and I admitted it was. She told me she'd seen the spider crawl out from under the stall and I accused her of saying that only to make me feel better. She insisted however, so I had to accept what she reported.

Last night I slept like a stone and was the first person up. After I fed the dog I just sat, breathing in the piney, fresh-smelling air and enjoying the very nice, cool morning. It was beautiful and peaceful! What a moment to have to praise God for His creation!

This morning, not wanting to go near the grimey showers I just got dressed and we all struck the tent. Those who were Catholic attended a nearby Catholic church (One of our friends watched the dog--I got a GREAT shot of him in the back of the Ranger with the dog just outside the church.)

After a long drive, we arrived home and unpacked...then one more short trip to my house and more more bout of unpacking. First order of business...other than putting the meat away...a bath for the dog, and a shower for me!

And you know what? My hair still smells like a campfire. The cheese slices got wet and I think they're soggy and so are the brats. I have to wonder if my camp food is still salvageable? Tomorrow will tell the tale.

I'm taking the day off to recover from my weekend and plan to grill both lunch and dinner...out of necesity.

So....I guess, overall, the camping trip was a success. It's been years but the camping technology has gotten better. Admittedly, it would have been easier without the dog, but quite honestly, I would also have spent more money if the dog wasn't present. I could only leave her for a short time and so I'd had to leave the vineyard store, etc., to walk her and give her water.

And the good news about the dog...I don't think she's so anxious in the car anymore. If nothing else, I can chalk this weekend up to some very good experience/training for my dog and she has proven herself, as I always knew she was...a German Shepherd.

I would like to go camping again sometime...but for now, I think I just want to go to sleep in my bed and hopefully, my pilow won't take on the campfire smell that it still hanging onto my hair.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro (City Girl): When you weren't being terrorized by spidey did you have a good time?

IMHO, any camping trip where: the tent does not fall in on you in the middle of the night, it's not raining so hard you are floating in the tent, and no one ends up at the hospital is a raging success.

I could tell outhouse stories that would curl your hair but I'll save that for some time when we are eating dinner together. :-)


Adoro said...

It was a raging success in my estimation as well. Although the spiders were even more prolific than the poison ivy, it appeared no one suffered from ticks, no one got poison ivy, and the spiders were of a harmless variety (albeit gross and large).

I do feel bad for the 3 we left at the state park...they were staying another night and it appears the rainstorm that hit MN gained strength as it crossed Wisconsin and it might have caused their tents to float by the time it crossed over Door County and Sturgeon Bay. Since the campsite was at the base of the hill, and in fact the spot where we pitched the tent was at the bottom of a trail, I'm pretty certain our friends got flooded...and everything was probably muddy. I'll see one of them later in the week and get the scoop from Sunday then.

Incidentally, I really not a "city girl" heart, I'm a farm girl who loves the outdoors...but for the spiders. No problems with anything else, though! (I actually loath the city and can't wait to get out of it.)