Friday, July 9, 2010

Camping: The Real Test of a Marriage's Strength (Part 1)

Or, so I have been told. And maybe experienced....just a little.

So we had decided a while ago to go camping for 4th of July weekend. Initially, we were going to a local park, only about 30 minutes from our house. But with the heatwave and all, James thought it would be better to go where there might be some water nearby. Fine by me.

Well, we lost about $50 by not going to the original park (Suffolk County is so lame in how they set this system up but that's another story), but we took the loss and headed to the Delaware Water Gap.

Now, I've been camping several times and love it, but I have never been the one to be in charge of the trip - you know, packing up all the gear, buying everything we need, etc.

I had a pretty extensive list and I kept my pad handy every time another thought crossed my mind. James threw a few reminders my way, so I thought I really had my bases covered. So while James was at work on Friday, I was running all over L.I. buying the essentials. I mean, I had nothing. A few old flashlights, some paper plates, bug spray, but that was about it.

So, I got the tent (this great 9-man tent James had seen that he loved - I was so glad I found it), the air mattress (I cannot do hard ground), a pump, the lantern, the propane stove, propane, the table grill, the coffee pot, batteries...all what I thought were the essentials. Then food. Then packing up. I felt this fun, wifely excitement getting all of this for our first camping trip together. But I did feel a little nervous...hoping I wouldn't forget anything.

We actually made great time and hit minimal traffic, which is unusual getting off Long Island on a regular day, let alone a holiday weekend. But I knew James just wanted to get there, and all of the bad drivers (i.e. everyone else) were making him a little edgey.

We arrived to our spot about 10pm... and that was when the "fun" began.

We had this great spot that was surrounded by woods, so we loved the seclusion. But we realized that we couldn't pull the car right up to the spot...and therefore, no light. We started lugging our gear to the spot, and I was digging through everything to find the lantern and praying I brought the right amount of batteries. Ok, success. So I did my best to shine the headlights on our spot, and the lantern provided some extra light.

"Where are the other lanterns?"

"Other lanterns?"


"I only bought one."

I soon realized that all of the other flashlights I had dug up to bring with us (I'm so cheap - why buy new ones when we have them?) were either not working or severely inadequate. And I can see James' frustration starting to build.

And then I pulled out the tent that he has to set up. In the dark. With minimal light. For the first time. After a long day of work. And a three-hour drive.

Now, the idea of a 9 person tent seemed awesome while I was in the store that broad an air-conditioned civilization. As the reality set in that it was dark, late, and the first time James had even seen this more complex tent, let alone set it up - well, maybe it wasn't such a great idea? In his delicate way, James off-handedly suggested that a quick 2-man pop-up might have been better, given the circumstances? Point noted.

Well, it's what we had and I was sure we'd love it once we were in it...we couldn't exactly pack up and go home. So, like a good husband, James set out to set it up, and he said, "OK, where's the hammer?"

Oh, crap. Hammer?

"I didn't bring a hammer. I'm so sorry, honey. I didn't even think of a hammer."


Oh gosh, this isn't good. So, ingenious that he is, we found a small boulder near by which would have to do...but it didn't. It cracked one of the plastic buckles. So, we ended up digging up part of my car jack to do the trick.

While he was doing that, I thought it best to remove myself from the scenario and let him figure it out, so I went to go get some wood. And I am praying the whole time, "Jesus, give him strength, give him wisdom, help him to figure this out without problems..."

I came back and saw the tent starting to take shape and felt relieved, but still thought it wise to make myself scarce. So, I did the best I could to be helpful, unload the car and stay out of his way.

To his credit, he did amazingly, which I knew he would. I could tell he was super-frustrated, but he handled it great and the tent came together. After an hour and a half.

Considering the circumstances, not too bad.

At about 1am or so, I was wrecked, and he was all wired. I decided to crash, and he just wanted to stay up, unwind, sit by the fire and listen to some music.

Music. The CD player. I knew I bought batteries. Where were they????

Thankfully, I found the package and as James is putting them in, he asked, "Where's the other package?"

"Other package?"

"Yeah, it takes 8 batteries. There's only 4 here. Did you look to see how many you needed?"

"I looked to see that we needed C batteries... I didn't count."


"Maybe you could listen to your I-pod instead?"


I've heard in camping that when you encounter a bear, it is best to slip away quietly, unnoticed....

"OK, goodnight, honey...I'll see you in the morning..."

Stay tuned for the next episode. But here are some pics from our weekend homestead and the beautiful tent James set:


  1. Oh man! That's quite a story and it's only part one! I would not think to count how many batteries I needed either. We are supposed to raft the Delaware tomorrow, but I'm not sure the weather is going to hold up. Matt wants to camp, but I'm not sure that I'm a fan of using nature as a restroom. My idea of "roughing it" doesn't involve a wet foot.

    Can't wait to read about the rest of your adventure!

  2. omg...this is too familiar to what i'm going through at this exact time! Andy and I are road tripping and last night was our first stop...all i have to say, is that we do not think like guys do...camping is in there genes.

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