Amy Roberts: Happy campers
July 22, 2014
When I was a kid, my dad would take me and my two sisters camping every summer for one week. He always called it a vacation, but quite honestly, the only one who got a vacation out of it was my mom, who got the house to herself for a full seven days.
We’d load up the station wagon, fishing poles, sleeping bags and tent and we were off to live in the "woods" of Nebraska. Which was basically a small patch of land where the cornfields and cow pastures gave way to a tree or two.
Once we had arrived at the place we were going to call home for a bit, we’d unload the car and spend the next five to six hours trying to put up the tent. Back then, the poles were all separate and oddly sized, the tent weighed a good 60 pounds, and for some reason, assembly always required a cordless drill, extra rope and duct tape. Plus, a quick visual refresher on YouTube before leaving the house was not an option.
We didn’t have any of the frills — no air mattresses, stove or outdoor solar shower. We roughed it. And my sisters and I all hated it. After a day, we were bored, sleep deprived, dirty and sick of dining on campfire-roasted fish.
As we got older, the trips got shorter until they eventually became a form of punishment. "If you girls don’t quit arguing, I’ll make you go camping with your dad again!" Mom would yell.
All in all, the experiences of my youth did not set me up to love camping. I grew to assume camping was nature’s way of keeping hotels in business.
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Years later I would move to the mountains and fall in love with the outdoors. As such, I underwent a bit of a transformation and my previous hatred of camping dulled some. I’m now what I consider a tag-along, social camper. When friends are planning a trip and invite me, I go, but I never instigate it.
But then, on a day trip to the Uintas a few weeks ago, I found a spot that seemed to scream: "You need to wake up here." And so I was the one planning a trip and inviting the gang to come out with me last weekend.
As I prepared and packed up my gear, I realized why my dad used to take us for a whole week — because getting ready to go camping is one hell of a lot of work. It’s not worth it for just one or two nights. And I realized this with the benefit of technology — the "reply all" button makes it loads easier to figure out who needs to bring what. But despite that convenience, it still took me several hours to find and pack up all my gear.
Of course the list of essentials has grown considerably since I was in elementary school. For one thing, I didn’t require wine back then. But in addition to my beverage of choice, hammocks, bocce balls, a grill and a laptop (for music) were all deemed necessary for survival and loaded into the car.
Along with the list of camping essentials, the cost has increased considerably as well. As I stopped at the store to pick up a few items for the trip, it dawned on me — camping is the only activity where you pay a fortune to live like a homeless person.
But despite the tedious planning, the work and the cost, it’s all worth it when you open your eyes in the morning and see an unspoiled piece of nature. An alpine meadow dotted with wildflowers, the scent of sap bubbling off the pine trees and the freshness of a pristine mountain-fed lake. How can anyone not love that?
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.