camping adventures 101.


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so.we went camping last weekend.

our second summer now to do this with friends.

i’m not sure why there was a second after the first.
or why i’m already planning on what we’ll need to take for our third…

camping is like exercise to me.
i hate it while i’m doing it then look back and see how good it was.
and, as with exercise, they say the more you do it the more you enjoy it..
so maybe it’s true of camping too.
though i’ve not come to that place with either so i have my doubts.

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i actually grew up camping.
which surprises people when they hear me talk about camping now.
we camped every single summer of my childhood in the mountains of tennessee.
i liked it. i have good memories of it.
but. we camped IN A TRAILER!!

trailer camping and tent camping are two completely different things. completely!

that’s what i finally realized this past weekend..
i actually like everything about camping except the sleeping part.
and by the sleeping part i really mean the going to the bathroom in the middle of the night part!!
and by the bathroom part i really mean being scared to death of the bears you know will eat you on your way to the bathroom part!

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the first night it was cold.
and everyone knows coldness combined with nervousness only increases bladder activity!
so i already knew this was not going to go well.

i decided to sleep in the truck where i thought it would be warmer and more cushioned than the ground.
yes, we’re the people who bring 50 million blankets instead of our neighbor’s air mattress’s which they offered for us to borrow.
it seemed like a good plan, sleeping in the truck…
until i was actually trying to SLEEP in the truck!

i had tested it out earlier. fitting across the back seat perfectly. legs all stretched out and everything.
but then kate wasn’t feeling well and wanted to sleep in there too.
so i gave her the more comfortable spot and took the front {untested} seat instead.

it was actually just like the back except for the stiff seat belt buckles that stuck out between the seats.
and the slight curve sloping downhill versus being flat.
oh, and the steering wheel happens to be in the front also!

i thought i could lay straight on my back to avoid the slope AND the steering wheel but who was i kidding.
i’m such a side/stomach/face smashed against the mattress kind of sleeper that the back thing lasted all of 15 minutes, if even.
but for the record, sleeping on your stomach across the front seat of a ford pick up truck is just not a good idea…
because you might happen to wake in the night to a startled jolt, finding yourself with what feels like being slightly pinned under the steering wheel and then this panicky thought that  you’re stuck and can’t get out and trying to get out lands you on the floor where you then have to squeeze your way back up to the seat which is just awkward and so very obvious you’re not as agile as you once were.

which of course after all that commotion means only one thing… you’ve gotta pee!

so i shine the flashlight out the window carefully.
not seeing a thing except the bright light reflecting right back in my face.
then opening the door oh, so slowly, and squinting my eyes to try to survey the surrounding area i moved the light inch by inch all around, then back again. then, “what? was that a…” i stopped and listened. i could hear something growling. like a distant low gurgling kind of growl.

i shot back in the seat and shut the truck door tightly.
turning off my flashlight and now only hearing the loud pounding of my heart!
i sat there holding the flashlight with both hands in the dark for a minute, wondering what to do.

the port-a-potty was not far. i could run!
but as scared as i was of whatever might be out there growling i was even more scared of the smell that came from that port-a-potty!!
not to mention the possibility of something coming up from that deep dark smelly abyss to bite my butt!
{it’s possible people! do you read the news!!}
the normal bathrooms were too far away, atleast with all those bears lurking out there, so i decided i’d have to hold it.

but going to the bathroom is such a mental thing too, isn’t it?
like the minute you’re on that stretch of highway without a place in sight to stop that’s when you have to go the worst.
OR sitting in a truck in the middle of the woods with growling animals all around you is right up there too!!

so taking a big gulp and praying God’s way for me to die was not to be eaten by whatever it was i reached for the door handle, one last breath of courage and i was going out there… but then, suddenly i remembered something.
reese’s potty seat on the floor in the back!
the bright pink ladybug one we’d bought at wal-mart for the trip.

and the clouds parted and the angels sang and i was SAVED!!!

don’t worry, i won’t write a description of what happened next.
i’m pretty sure even the angels turned away.
but let it never be said of me that i’m too prideful to do what i’ve got to do.
which, come to think of it.. maybe that’s actually not a good thing!
a little pride can spare some huge embarrassments.

but atleast the bathroom dilemma was averted.

which then only freed me up to think of my next dilemma.
the FREEZING TO DEATH dilemma!!!!

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i had worried ben would be cold sleeping by himself in his own tent so i’d given him my extra blankets.
finally though at somewhere around 4 in the morning i think it was, i got up and headed for the tent with shayne and the little girls.
obviously willing to risk the bears for my warmth over my bladder!!!

i shone the flashlight around like a light show on my short walk to the nearby tent and let out a few quiet kind of barks or something like that. i’ve heard bears don’t like to be surprised so if there was one out there i was going to give him plenty of warning i was coming!

i squeezed in between shayne and reese, trying not to wake anyone.
shayne is like a living heater. that guy is just always hot –
which yes, he likes me telling him that! *wink*

i snuggled down next to him and instantly felt warmer.
closing my eyes and thinking i might just possibly be able to finish out the last hours of the night with some kind of actual sleep when reese sat up as if on cue and started crying, which woke emma who said she was cold.

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then while holding reese and trying to rearrange emma the blankets got all twisted and messed so i had to get shayne up so we could fix them.
he groaned something about how they were all sleeping fine until i came in as he helped me remake our blanket bed…
once situated we laid back down where reese began talking incessently. wide awake!

shayne sat up and looked down the girls at me.
“and why did we want to do this again?”

it made me laugh.
the whole situation just suddenly so very funny.
the truck and bears and potty seat and me all scared and reese talking and the mess of blankets all over.
i laughed till i couldn’t stop. sitting up and burying my face into my knees.
and then as i’ve been known to do when i’m extra tired, my laughing tears turn to real tears which makes me laugh even more and i’m belting out laughs and cries and shayne, who has seen this too many times before and knows it’s not a cry that needs to be comforted, just a cry that needs to sleep, rolls his eyes and groans, “oh, babe!” as he lays back down.

i don’t think we ever {really} fell back asleep.
because it wasn’t too much longer when the crows started crowing.
that annoying “caw-caw” sound they make.
and that made someone’s dog start barking.
which made someone else’s dog start barking back.
which must have woken the baby that started crying.
and who knew that things echoed so loudly like that in the woods at 6 in the morning!!

and then they must have given the baby their keys to play with because then someone’s car alarm went off.
and off and off and off.
and i wondered where in the world the people were that owned it..
and maybe they went to the bathroom in the middle of the night!
and just when i’m thinking they probably never returned the horn stopped, so i guess they weren’t eaten after all!

so we just went ahead and got up and made a fire that would only seem to smoke instead of burn and ate our fruit loops in silence.

and pretty soon 4 wild haired blonde kids are poking their heads out tents and truck doors,
and we can’t help but smile. “ah. this is why we’re doing this again.”

this kind of crazy that memories are made of~

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and by the way. that growling noise?
kate said the next morning she had heard it too..
and ben’s friend sleeping in the hammock not far away as well.
it wasn’t until the next night we discovered what it was-

the guy in the tent one campsite over!! SNORING.

for the love!

i’m pretty sure whoever first said, “there’s no place like home” must have just returned from a camping trip.




what about you… do you like camping?
and please tell me i’m not the only one afraid to pee in the woods in the middle of the night!!

´¸.·¨) ¸.·¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ (¸.·¨¯`♥ amber


41 thoughts on “camping adventures 101.

  1. Dawn

    Camped every vacay as a child growing up. Good memories and some craaaaazy memories.
    Now I am in love with the idea of camping in a Hampton Inn. Just sayin’.
    Bathroom is closer.

  2. Jenny

    You are so funny. Yes, I really LOVED van camping, it was warmer, we had a stove and sink, AND we had a PORT-A-POTTY. I still like tent camping (provided I have a blow up mattress), but that getting up in the middle of the night is scary. When we last went with the church, I was in a tent on my own, missing my husband, who is also my heater, and still had to get up every night. It was only a bit heart thumping until the night that a mama bear and her cubs appeared in camp. I was invited to the girls tent to sleep, but still had to get up to go to the bathroom! I used a lantern that night so I could really see and be seen, and my heart was pounding! The beauty and the majesty of nature can’t be beat, and draws us so close to the majesty of God. I was looking at cool “glamping” ideas…claw foot tubs, gourmet meals, a bed …all perched in a rugged forest…but you also need a backpack full of $ to go there. :-)

  3. Clarita @ The Cottage

    Okay, you are one fantastic story-teller ~ I’m sitting here nearly crying from laughing so hard!! Maybe in part because I LOVE camping in retrospect, but in foresight? PLEASE give me hotel, and a Hampton at that. But oh the memories. Especially the “growling” from the next campsite over. That one killed me.


    1. amber Post author

      it’s that retrospect that keeps us coming back i guess!

      i was thinking today while reading something someone had written about the chicago ffe what an ffe camping trip would look like! maybe we ought to put that one out for a vote. haha. oh my word.. can you imagine!! ;))

  4. Karen

    So funny! The snoring story has to be the best one! How did you find out it was that?

    I am not a happy camper. Few experiences of it, and no desire to repeat them–although it is fun to sleep in tent in the backyard, and try not to breathe when skunk sniffs around the tent.

    1. amber Post author

      the way we found out was on sunday morning when someone else in our camping group said they had heard a growling noise the night before as well. i told them that made 4 of us that had heard and what in the world? apparently on their way to go to bed for the night they had heard the noise and freaked at first, only to discover upon further investigation the “growl” was coming from inside bob’s tent!! ;))

      case solved.

  5. Danya

    lol..Amber love reading about your adventures! No, I hate camping unless it includes an RV or cabin with a clean restroom and my very own shower not a shared one :)
    Glad you all survived and did not get eaten by a bear! Love the pictures!

    1. amber Post author

      i’m laughing at how many of us are like, “oh yeah.. i like camping if it’s in a trailer or cabin or hotel.” hee hee. we’re such GIRLS!!! ;))

  6. Shannon

    Totally lol!! You have such a way with words. :) I did not grow up camping. My husband did. Enough said. We fought many battles over this and are now at a half way point, we have a camper. We camp, but I camp in comfort. :)

  7. Carmen Byler

    hilarious!! totally hilarious! Sounds very true to life and a lot like my sentiments with camping. We have camped very little in our married life… I keep pushing it off to when the children are older. ;-) But, like you said, there are many great memories to be made while camping. Thanks for this great story! Still chuckling….

    1. amber Post author

      although if you wait until they’re too old they’ll be sharing your sentiments {as we found out} . gotta do it while they’re still young enough to think of it as fun!! ;))

  8. Audrey R

    This is such a funny story! I don’t particularly enjoy camping, and I don’t like sleeping in tents. If we can get a cabin and sleep in beds, or if we owned a camper, that makes a difference. Our church camped once a year about 20 minutes away for a weekend. Once we had a brand new baby (as in, 1 day old) and last year we had a wedding, so we’ve skipped it a couple of times. We used a tent one year, and by morning the cold dew was dripping on us, not to mention, how can you sleep when there are so many noises? We have never tried it again, esp with kids. Our beds are only 20 minutes away- we can leave the campsite late, go back in the morning, and still sleep WAY better than the ones that stayed ;) When we decide to go somewhere, we always rent a cabin.

    And yes, I hate walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and even worse yet, showering. If I am going to be murdered, I want to be murdered fully clothed, thank you very much!!

    The snoring part of the story was way too funny!

    1. amber Post author

      haha! oh my goodness.. laughing at your “if i’m going to be murdered i want to be murdered fully clothed.” too too funny!!!!

  9. Beth

    I’m with you about the camping. We did it all the time as a kid, in a TENT, and i just have no desire to do it now. Can’t we rent a cabin instead? Same location, better sleep?? why do the men never get that??? Anyway, I busted at the guy snoring. Hilarious!!!

    1. amber Post author

      yes. certainly some good bonding for sure! :) and fun to see your comment here on the blog vs. facebook.. before ya know it you’ll be blogging!! {hint hint}

  10. Cindy

    this was so hilarious! OTHER peoples camping stories usually are. ;)
    and YOU are such a captivating storyteller, that i’m feeling it all with you, so much so that i’m needing a pottybreak about now. haha. (my bladder isn’t nearly as coolly convenient as it was before I had Jacob.)

    we camped a lot when I was a kid. the sleeping bags on the tent floor kind at first. that was before “roughing it while camping” meant that the wifi is intermittent. there’s so much that sounds fun, i’m great with roasting marshmellows and singing kum-by-yah. and the kids love it all. that’s so cool too.
    but when I crawl into bed at night… I really want my own. :) without dirt and bugs and with airconditioning and other things that might make me sound prissy when i’m not. i’m just nicer to be with when I’m rested and bug-bite-less—ask my family. ;)

    love this adventure, your so dang awesome sense of humor, and seeing pics.
    happy last days (gulp) of summer! <3

  11. Lori

    LOVED this post!!!! I can relate, like we were sharing *the same brain*!
    A husband and children that love camping is reason enough to invest in a used pop-up camper, which we just did recently. And let me tell you – THAT made this Momma love camping with her family!!!!

  12. Kellie

    Looks like so much fun! But I agree- it always seems much more fun after you’re back home! It is a wonderful memory-maker for your kids. We’ve been numerous times over the years and the good memories far outweigh the bad.
    You look so cute in a baseball cap!

  13. parla

    o my hilarious!!! i do believe you are a better sport than i am!!! the past couple of times dave and i have tried to camp w/ brighton have felt like disasters, and i am so ready to go home and crawl in bed by the end of it all ;) i can hardly wait until we buy a camper and go camper camping instead of tent camping! seriously this tent camping w/ babies thing is for the birds! brighton would prefer to use us as a jungle gym than lay down and go to sleep lol. and i just don’t do well w/out sleep. maybe it gets better when they’re older??? gorgeous pics by the way!

    1. amber Post author

      yes! it IS easier camping w/ bigger kids.. atleast w/ my older two i know there’s light at the end of the tunnel w the younger ones, but still – when camping that light seems so very very far away!!!! :)))

  14. Melissa

    Now look what you’ve done-I laughed till I peed! Hi-lar-rious story and perfect story telling. I am not a camper and now I know why!!

  15. Mandi

    I laughed repeatedly reading this! It sounds just like me! LoL
    I agree with the quote that says “I would like to camp if I liked to pretend I was homeless.” ;-)

  16. Elizabeth

    Read this a few days ago and remembered I never commented when I checked to see if you updated!

    I laughed through much of this post! You are hilarious. I think we could be camping twins! ;) Wish so bad you guys lived closer. Love all your photos, your kids are getting so grown up…I can’t believe it. and you…timeless and beautiful!

    Happy (almost) weekend!

    1. amber Post author

      on the kids growing up, i KNOW!! and yours too. oh my word!!! we’re way too young to have kids this old!!! ;)) though i hear you have a 20 something yr old daughter.. but that’s what eating at taco bell will do to ya – make you age prematurely. ;))

  17. Jo-Ann

    I’m glad I finally found you again – Xanga sure messed up all the old communications! I loved reading of your experience! I grew up camping, my husband did not! We camped in a pop-up when our children were young — I enjoyed it — he did not! We finally camped near home so he could go to his job during the day, have supper and evening fun with us and go home to sleep! It worked for us and our adult children still talk of the fun they had even though we were only 10 miles from home.

    1. amber Post author

      so glad you found me too, which means i can now find you!! :)) i’ve still not got into a good system of keeping up w/ everyone.. once summer is over and things calmer i hope i can get more time to figure that out.

      i like your husband’s idea – all the fun of camping w/out actually camping. haha!!!

      hope to get around to visit your new blog soon. xo

  18. Christy

    So funny! I actually love camping, although with children it is a LOT more work! We used to go camping in an open field with no running water. I thought camping in a campground was just cheating. :) By now I like the showers and the running water. But oh, the nights. Unless you have great sleeping gear they can make you feel like the grizzliest of bears by morning. I just loved the picture of you laughing until you cried over the craziness. Wish I could have been laughing with you.

  19. amber Post author

    wish you could have been there too!!! i actually think a big girls camping weekend would be a hoot… atleast i KNOW i’d have some “potty buddies” to brave the wildnerness w/ me in the middle of the night. cause you know… women always go the bathroom in PACKS!!!! ;)))

    hope to “talk” to you for real soon. i miss our talks~


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