When I was growing up in New York, I thought "roughing it" meant having to sit in the balcony at a Broadway show. Thus, camping isn't my strong suit. And being Jewish didn't help; just mentioning the word "camp" got my mother so upset, we naturally avoided it as much as possible.
Now here I am in Utah, where camping is what you do when there's no snow. Bravely, you venture into the wilderness for a few days, eager to prove you can survive without all those modern conveniences you can't get enough of back home. Also, you commune with nature, get in touch with the environment, and generally hug the planet.While this can be spiritually renewing, still I always suffer anxiety about performing certain natural bodily functions that I don't even want to talk about, out in the open where a bear or moose could come by at any moment. Besides being embarrassing, you could die.
Also, you have to pack for days in advance and buy stuff that folds down to the size of your wallet, which of course will be totally empty after purchasing your tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, lantern, cook stove, pots and pans, backpack, hiking boots, fishing gear, binoculars, and 4-wheel drive sport utility vehicle.
Generally exhausted from our preparations to go and relax, my husband and I set off with our friends, X and Y Chromosome. Despite a sworn pact to leave early and find the perfect spot, we arrived in Logan Canyon at dark. Owing to the fact that we couldn't see a thing, we inadvertently chose a campsite next to a dirt road that, by next morning, closely resembled I-15 at rush hour.
The noise! The traffic! It was so dusty, our car wrote "Wash me" on itself. (We later learned from a Park Ranger that we had come during ATV Convention Week.)
Another surprise was the herd of sheep adjacent to our campsite. Sheep are highly regarded as adorable, fluffy little things that go "baa-aaa." Very Disney. But get a lot of them together and those little "baas" become a deafening roar, especially at three in the morning when you can't sleep because there's a rock under your left hip and so you turn over and then there's a rock under your right thigh.
The sheep use the woods, instead of the modern-day flush toilet, to "relieve" themselves. Unfortunately, they are far less modest than people, and do it right there in front of your tent. (And behind it, and all around it.)
Building a fire is the primary reason my husband likes to go camping. Even a day trip to a remote spot brings out the Cro-Magnon in him, and before I know it he's down on one knee, rubbing two sticks together. When there is more than one male present, varying styles compete for supremacy.
My husband subscribes to a primitive method: lots of kindling, blow on it a lot, and hum a few bars from The Doors' hit, "Light My Fire." That failing, he resorts to the Boy Scout pledge: I promise to be good if you just let this fire catch on.
Our friend Y used a more explosive technique: build a pyramid of logs, douse it with lighter fluid, and light a match. As he himself noted as his handiwork lit up the night sky, "Smoky the Bear would not approve."
Dinner, long advertised as fresh-caught trout from the nearby mountain stream, never materialized, most probably because the bait was year-old salmon eggs. (Several of the more sophisticated fish could be seen slapping their fins and laughing hysterically.)
Fortunately we had a back-up protein source, and grilling chicken replaced catching fish as the men's all-consuming evening activity. It's strange how involved in dinner preparations men become when there's no kitchen. Usually AWOL back home, in the forest primeval they morph into a Julia Child/ Fred Flintstone combination.
Now that I'm becoming a Utahn, I'll try to go camping more often. Heck, it's easier than skiing, safer than mountain climbing, and it comes with toasted marshmallows. All in all, though, I guess I still prefer a good Broadway show, even with balcony seats.