Susan’s story about camping: After Anna left for USC, Lee (remembering his glory days as a skilled mountain climber) suggested we leave our now-empty Denver-area nest and go camping for the weekend in the high Rocky Mountains west of us. He promised that it would be a no-hassle deal for me. He would take care of the camping gear if I would be in charge of the food. That Friday we took off later than planned in Lee's '98 Ford F250. By 7:30 p.m., at 10,000 feet, we turned in at a promising jeep trail leading towards pine trees and a stream. The headlights flashed on a sign that said "Beware of Bears," but we were undaunted.
We set up camp: After parking the truck in the dark and cold, as I tried not to think about bears, Lee told me the first thing a good camper does is to set up his tent. He shone the truck’s headlights on our site and gallantly told me to sit down while he set up the tent we had bought years before but never used. However, Lee was amazed to find out the tent had not found its way to the back of the truck. Recovering quickly, he assured me I'd be very comfortable anyway, even without the tent, because he had purchased a queen-sized air mattress to protect us from the hard, cold ground. Lo and behold, the air pump for the mattress had no batteries in it. Luckily that was not a problem because we could get batteries out of the flashlight. Unfortunately, the flashlight batteries were dead.
Desperate, I just sat down on a tree stump (at 10,000 feet above sea level) and commenced blowing up the mattress by mouth. I was so determined that I actually got it done without having a stroke while Lee made a fire. He encouraged me by saying that "real campers sleep outside anyway" and that seeing the brilliant stars overhead would make all the effort worthwhile.
We enjoy our outdoor meal: I had been low on blood sugar and good sense that day due to the fact that I had just started a diet. Righteously, I had packed diet food for both of us to have over the campfire. I actually like Jenny Craig food, but this meal was a DOG, the worst thing I ever ate. Lee didn't complain; he just ate the food and acted real grateful.
We sleep under the stars: After our meal, we concentrated on getting warm by the fire before running for our sleeping bags: at that altitude it gets really cold at night in September. We snuggled up on the air mattress in the bags, wearing stocking caps, mittens and parkas: if you didn't move your head on the pillow, your face didn't freeze. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night all the air went out of the mattress. Toward morning, the Colorado skies dumped a blanket of snow on us. When we awoke, we were (barely) living figures in a winter wonderland.
Breakfast: As morning came, we knew that good, hot camp food can defrost just about any situation. And truly, the fried eggs would have been delicious if I had just brought some bacon to provide a little grease for them to fry in. We enjoyed every bit of the eggs, though—even the burned part—and I think Lee came up with some coffee.
A member of the team wanders off: Buddy, our deaf Sharpei, decided to go on his own adventure hike and couldn’t hear us calling, so we spent the rest of the morning searching for him. Having spent a cozy night in the warm cab of the truck, he happily spent several hours sniffing all the interesting smells in the woods while we frantically looked and called.
There is no recipe here for camp food. Just advice:
Don’t bring Jenny Craig food along when a good meal could save the day (or night).
Better than good food, is patience and the willingness to laugh when it would be easier to be a grouch. That’s part of my recipe for a good marriage: go along for the ride, and be thankful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have (for example being thankful that no bears actually showed up and that I had such a positive companion). And finally, just hope you have enough air (love) to serve as a cushion to you and your mate against the cold, hard world.
When all else fails—laugh!