Camping with friends seemed like a good idea at the time.
Christian and I are what you would call “mediocre outdoorsy.” We like to hike and frolic outside on a nice day, but we don’t live for it. Spending time indoors being lazy has just as much appeal. I do love a good nap.
About 10 years ago we planned a camping trip with some couple friends of ours at Enchanted Rock, a popular destination with tons of available hiking and exploring and outdoor space for two couples who didn’t have kids and liked to drink a lot.
Only Enchanted Rock walk-in camp sites book up approximately 5 lifetimes in advance.
So my husband, always with an ill-researched backup plan, booked one of their “primitive campsites.”
“So what does that mean, exactly?” I asked.
“No big deal,” he answered. It’s just a little bit farther of a hike.”
“Like how ‘little bit farther?'”
“Eh…like two miles.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Now I am not a sedentary person (note I’m typing this on my couch with a blanket and my coffee and have no plans to move for the reminder of the day, but that is neither here nor there). I can run long distances. I can definitely walk two miles. But do I want to walk two miles, carrying a shitton of camping gear?
No I do not.
Because we all know a good wife never lets anything go, I occasionally brought up the impending Death March as the trip grew closer.
And that’s when he started to backpedal.
First it was, “Oh, it’s not really two miles. More like a mile and a half.”
And then the next time it was, “Meh, I’m pretty sure it’s more like a mile. Not too bad. It’ll be fine.”
So maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad. But that was ten years ago, and I can tell you that ten years wiser Leigh Ann has learned to Google the hell out of anything that comes out of her husband’s mouth. If I had done that in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to endure such suffering. But ten years younger Leigh Ann was more trusting and also not the Googling master that she is now.
It’ll be fine, he said.
So one mid-October day, we drove out to Enchanted Rock with our friends Reba and Troy. We had everything we needed: camping stove, sleeping bags, 6-man tent, board games, groceries, and a cooler full of Lone Star. A piddly one mile hike wasn’t going to dampen our spirits.
And when we pulled into the parking lot, there it was: a wooden sign with etched words that said it all.
There was no going back. We loaded ourselves up with our duffel bags, sleeping bags, and grocery bags. Troy hefted the cooler full of beer up onto his shoulder, and we headed off in search of our campsite.
October in Texas is still hot, and those two miles were so, so long.
To give an example of the kind of crazy people who book primitive camping sites, everyone we passed along the trail was carrying the following:
- a backpack – most likely a legit hiking version with 897 pockets for knives and ropes and shit
- a tiny tent – shoved perfectly in the space between their back and the backpack
- absolutely nothing else.
I still carry the shame from the looks of pity and general “WTF are you doing?” on their faces. It’s my life’s burden.
“You’re doing it wrong!” one guy said as he passed, taking in our grocery bags of eggs and meat and circus animal cookies (because one never goes camping with out circus animal cookies). Glamping wasn’t a thing back then, but that’s exactly what it looked like we were prepared to do.
If this had happened today, he’d have snapped a photo and camping-shame us all over the Internet.
What seemed like 5 hours later, we reached our destination. We were exhausted, and Troy’s ear was bleeding from an unfortunate cooler injury. His main goal the next 24 hours was to drink as much Lone Star as possible so he wouldn’t have to carry it back.
But our site was the perfect picture of Texas wilderness: wildflowers, cacti, cedar trees, and tall grassy stuff that probably has a name, but I’m not a botanist. Where we were used to designated sleeping spots and a metal-ringed fire pit, we found a flattish space to sleep and a reminder that no fires were allowed in primitive spots. No bathrooms either, unless you count the outhouse that was about a quarter mile away, which is way too far to walk in the pitch dark after you’ve had 3 beers and really have to pee.
All in all, we had a great time. We hiked, we explored, we bonded, and we slept like babies that night, if babies slept on beds of rocks and sticks in a 6-man tent after a night of drinking and laughter around a battery-powered lantern because remember! No fires!
But we made it, and best of all we made memories. Reba and Troy remain some of our closest friends to this day. We’ve vacationed together, our kids have grown up together, and believe it or not, we still camp together.
We just make sure we don’t have to walk two miles to do it.
Now go visit these other funny and amazing bloggers and read what they thought was a good idea at the time!