…but you just can’t take the Camino away from the girls.
A few weeks ago I wrote to my cousin and my Juli-YEAH, “Camping?” and they said, “YES.” so we tossed around dates and places and settled, quickly, on the one that worked for all of us. And then I made the reservation and tucked it in the back of my mind/ inbox until it came closer. And then, two days before we were like, “So. What should we do to prepare for this?” and we divided and conquered tents/ food/ firestuffs. (Firestuffs was unneeded, we’d find out). (*insert ominous music*)
Julia stopped by my house and we drove out.
On the way to our campsite (before we got lost) I said, “Do you have anything you want to do this weekend?”
And she said, “I don’t know–what do you want to do?”
And I said, “I kind of want to go on a killer hike. Like, the kind of hike where you hike and then think you’re going to die and then you don’t die, instead of dying you live to tell the story.”
And Julia said, “That sounds like a great plan to me.”
This is the kind of women we are. Judge it.
So then, for a bit, we were lost (so close, GPS, so close) and then not-lost again and setting up the tent in the dark.
Ah, my favorite way to set up a tent: in the dark. Or, at least, you would think that from the high percentage of times I end up setting up a tent in the dark.
Hanna arrived and set up her tent in the dark, too, and we called it a day. Bam. Night time. Camping night time, where every time you roll over, you’re reminded that you’re on the ground (I NEVER think to bring a sleeping mat.
The next morning we were surrounded by the sound of rain, Julia and I lying on the ground in our sleeping bags in our little tent.
“It sounds like it’s raining pretty hard,” Julia said.
“Well,” I suggested, “sometimes, when you’re in tents or covered porches, it just sounds like it’s raining harder than it really is.”
“Hey guys,” we heard Hanna’s voice from outside the tent, “Can I come in?”
And she unzipped the tent door and stepped inside.
“Hey Hanna,” I asked, “It probably sounds a lot worse in the tent than it looks outside, right?”
“No,” she said, “no, actually–it’s raining pretty hard out there.”
And then she sat down.
We were like, “What should we do now?”
I proposed we could go for a hike in our already-dirty clothes, get soaked, come back and take a shower, and then hopefully the rain would be done for the evening.
We decided this was a good idea, and stopped by the campground hosts for some coffee (and juice) (I don’t drink coffee) and they were kind enough to give us some trash bags to use as ponchos.
And then we walked for six miles until we hit a small beach town. Along the way, the rain started clearing up so the girls stashed their bags in some undergrowth and I wrung out my socks. I WRUNG OUT MY SOCKS.
Now, Michigan is kind of known for its beach towns–little shops right off of the Great Lakes, places for people to meander. And this town was no different.
Now, we were camping, remember. But, most of the people in this town were well-coiffed with their expansive second-home beach houses lining the streets.
“We look awful compared to everyone,” I said.
“Yeah, we kind of look homeless,” said someone (Hanna?)
“Good thing we took off our trash bags,” (Julia?)
But, we ate our stowed lunch, walked around for a few miles, and started the trek back home.
We tried to keep a steady pace for the final six miles home, because we all wanted to make it back at a reasonable hour. We prayed a rosary, talked a bit…and just walked silently, too.
We’re all dealing with kind-of big things right now. Each of us is working through out-of-our-hands decisions and life-events and what not, so we walked in the silence, thinking and pondering.
I pointed out that this, this act of walking and praying, was something we learned on the Camino.
“You think you’re handing me misery, life?? Well! I’m just going to go and walk until my feet blister! Ha! That’ll show you! I’m not broken yet!”
So then we returned and sat like blobs at the picnic table, eating (gluten-free! ALDI–these are a GIFT to me) animal crackers until, one by one, we limped away to take showers. (In the dark? For some reason none of the lights worked in the campground showers? Unfortunate but true).
I was the first one done, so I sat in a camp-chair and thought about lighting a fire and starting dinner…and then the RAIN started again.
It was one of those tricks where it would POUR for, say, five minutes…and then stop pouring and only be raining for ten minutes, but then the wicked cycle restarts itself. Over and over and over. I started and put away and started dinner a few times. Eventually, lying in the tent with Julia, waiting out one of the POURING segments, I was like, “What do we do? Do we go home? Do we go out to eat?” because our tent wasn’t seeming all that water-proof at the moment and the food wasn’t getting cooked and the fire wasn’t staying lit because: POURING RAIN, you guys.
Julia was like, “Well, we’ve already started making the food. Let’s just finish.”
And finish we did. In our re-doned garbage bags, we cooked the food and sat and ate it, like troopers.
By now, with the rain delay, it was nearing 8:00 p.m. and sunset (sun? Ha. Hahahahaha), so I decided to go and brush my teeth at the campground bathroom. Julia followed close behind.
We entered the bathroom.
Now, the campground was also shared with people with those giant RV’s. Undoubtedly the RV-ers were sleeping better and faring better in this the land of never-ending rain clouds.
In the bathroom was a lady who had, apparently, just come from a semi-formal dinner at her in-laws. She was in a cool teal-and-cream dress with fashionable jewelry and fluffy hair.
And Julia and I stood looking at her. As we were wearing TRASH BAGS.
And right then and there we started that helpless form of laughter that really means, “Dear God, what has my life even become?”
So then we went back to our tent, ripping the garbage bags wide-ways in another attempt to keep the floor of our tent dry. And then we each had an extra pair of dry socks we changed into, which was glorious.
And I mentioned, right before we all went to bed, “This will probably be the best night of sleep ever–we walked for fourteen miles today and now this gentle rain will lure us to sleep.” And, as if to agree, the rain picked up. Lucky us.
And sleep we did.
And we awoke the next morning to the sunniest of sunshine-y days. Good gravy. You were ONE DAY off, Mother Nature, ONE DAY.
We folded the tents in the morning sun, and decided to slowly make our way to the park’s beach , walking on our blistered feet.
At one point the girls went in to use the bathroom.
Julia came out like, “You’ll never guess what just happened.”
I said, “Did all of your dreams come true?”
“Well,” she said, “I think all of my dreams have been surpassed. A wasp had flown into my pants and stung me, twice, on the waist.”
This is probably the best camping trip of all time.
But then we walked to Lake Michigan, that beautiful, beautiful lake, and we picked at the rocks and walked into the water and I was like, “Dewd. I can never get enough of this beautiful state,” but, eventually, we did leave and make our way back to the cars and depart.
And Julia and I talked a little bit on the car ride home, but mostly just stared like zombies at the farmland until we came home and collapsed.
And, if you want even more of it, my cousin outlined her version over here.
Please, enjoy. 😉
That night I called that one long-distance boyfrand of mine, and related the entire weekend and he said, “Man, you’re pretty lucky you have ladies in your life who will go on these kind of adventures with you.”
And he was (he often is) right.
On one hand, they joined me in the WILDERNESS (just kidding, it was a State Park) for the weekend–camping and what not.
But, also, I’m lucky because they’re with me for the whole path of life: the tough parts, the laughing parts, the thought-provoking parts.
I’m just lucky, I guess.