Soooo… we went CAMPING last weekend! I know, not a big deal… for most people. But for us, well…(for me, I should say)… this is no easy task.
I used to LOVE camping! Real live, sleep in a tent, cook over a fire, no showers, hike to the potty (or go in the woods,) you get my point, CAMPING! But since my injury 20 years ago, the most legit kind of camping I’ve done is in a trailer…with a bed…and most importantly, a bathroom.
We’ve talked about going a number of times, but there are a few things we have to consider logistically. First, it’s difficult for me to maneuver and get comfortable even in a regular bed, let alone on the ground in a sleeping bag, or even on an air mattress or a cot.
Secondly, because of the injury (and without giving you too much information; TMI!) I have to get up to use the bathroom at least once and sometimes 3 or 4 times in the night! At home, or our cabin, or at my parent’s house, or a hotel, etc., this isn’t a big deal and I’m used to it. I’m a big girl now and can go all by myself! Ha Ha! Camping, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
Now for most of you, needing to get up in the night while camping and use the bathroom isn’t all that difficult because you could get up and walk to the nearest bathroom. Convenient? Not so much. Doable? Yes. But for those of us with physical disabilities, (some more than others,) this task can prove to be a lengthy production.
Let me describe what this process looks like for me.
I have to wake up my husband, which I really don’t want to do because who likes to be awakened in the night? It’s kind of like having a newborn baby! Very unrestful sleep. He then has to help me sit up, put my shoes on, and then carefully help me walk in the dark with just a flashlight to light the way. Let me just say, THIS ISN’T FUN FOR EITHER OF US!! And if this happens more than once? Yeah…You get the picture!
Alright, now that you understand what camping looks like for us, let me return to my story.
For the past few weeks, our kids have asked if we could go camping, since they’ve never really experienced it, except for our oldest boy who has done many scouting overnighters and scout camps. The girls sleeping in the tent in the backyard doesn’t count! So we discussed the options of how we could make it work and have an enjoyable experience. One option was to just have Cole take the kids and I would stay home. That would be the easiest and most enjoyable for all, but then it’s not really a FAMILY thing. And that’s the whole point; going as a FAMILY. I really don’t want to miss out on these “memory making” times. What fun would that be?
As I mentioned before, sleeping on the ground is difficult, especially getting up from the ground, so we borrowed a cot from my sister just to try it out and see if it was a little easier for me. I wasn’t going to let a little discomfort stop me! We made our plan and our menu, which was very simple, and headed for the hills!
We chose to see what camping sites were available up the canyon out of Huntsville, about a 45 minute drive, not too far. As we passed each campground, the signs said, “Campground Full.” Every. Single. One. Ugh. We really wanted to stay closer to home. Either we turn around and go try a completely different area, or we continue to the top to the Monte Cristo Campground in the Cache National Forest. According to the forest ranger guy we talked to, it was 20 degrees cooler (elevation 9,000 feet) and lots of mosquitos, but it had lots of open spots. After careful deliberation, the vote was unanimous! Go to the top!
Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful campground, with paved roads, nice tables, well-kept fire pits, and an absolutely gorgeous view! Not only that, but would you believe…are you ready for this? FLUSHING TOILETS!!! You see? When things don’t go exactly as planned, there are unexpected blessings! And there weren’t a lot of mosquitos, either. Just flies. That bite. Yay.
We found the perfect spot. However, it was a little bit of a jaunt to the closest restrooms. Do you get the idea yet that this is a concern to me? Yet, with the paved roads, we could hop in the car and drive to it without disturbing the other people in the night with the noise that a gravel road would make.
The tents were set up, bug spray applied, a fire started, hot dogs roasted, marshmallows toasted, s’mores devoured, sticks widdled, and nature walks enjoyed. Chipmunks and squirrels entertained us and flies annoyed us. And other than a very restless, cold, uncomfortable night for me, we only had one- HALLELUJIA!- adventurous excursion to the restroom at 3 am, which included hearing a very strange bear-like sound just as the toilet flushed. Good thing we were already in the bathroom, if you know what I mean! We flushed again, and sure enough, it was the pipes groaning! Whew!!
I spent the rest of the night in the car. It was warmer and more comfortable for me, and that’s ok. Sleeping in the tent or not, I was with the people I love. We made memories. Maybe not all good ones, but those are sometimes the funniest ones!
Why did I share this story? I just wonder how willing we are to get out of our own comfort zone in order to bless the lives around us. What are we willing to sacrifice or give up to help others find joy? Is camping fun for me now? Not really. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching my kids having a great time, experiencing something new, and finding joy in the simplicities of life. And that’s what life is all about.
Sacrifice brings blessings.