August 11, 2012

Camping, Part Du Ex Machina (sort of)

For years and years now, James and I have been traveling from Illinois to Ohio to visit his family. That is, of course, when we and/or his family have lived close enough. When we were in Colorado or they were in New York, then we didn't see each other as much. In the close times, though, its only about a three hour drive. Not super close or cheap (lots of tolls and high gas prices) but very, very doable.

Twice a year, James's sister and her family come in from New York to visit. We always make sure to be there at those times so we can see them. And we all stay at my in-laws' house. It is a decent sized farm house that they rent in the country, but the families keep growing, as families are wont to do. Last Christmas the four of us, the now five of James's sister's family, the other four of James's family (parents and two brothers), James's 96-year-old grandmother (who lives with his parents most of each year) and a friend of the family who was living there for a while were all in the house at the same time! For the math averse, that's 15 people aged nine months to 96 living together for a few days in the Ohio winter! Two babies, three young kids, two teenagers, five twenty to thirty-somthings, two middle agers and one senior. Whew.

Needless to say, it was crazy. We were sleeping on all kinds of surfaces and all sharing one bathroom. It's always fun to have the kids together since they keep each other busy. The grown-ups enjoy hanging out in the evenings to watch movies or play games or talk. The grandparents have all their grandkids under one roof to lavish with love and playtime. But it was crazy! We love seeing everyone, but there is NO alone time and NO break from all the noise and busy-ness.

This summer, due to the fullness but also to make this family trip more of a vacation, we decided to camp at a nearby campground at a place called Sauder Village. James used to work at the Sauder Heritage Inn when we lived in Ohio a couple of years ago. We love to go to the Historic Village and were planning to make a visit this time around. So we booked a campsite.

The campground was beautiful! Right on a little lake. So we got to go to sleep to this:
And wake up to this:
Now this picture is a bit deceiving because it was the last day and no one else was around anymore. However, the first night the campground was totally full and the sites are pretty close to each other. The fire pits you see above were one per site and the one James and K are standing by was for the next site over from us. That was the scene of the trouble our first night.

It was more challenging with young kids to be camping at night, especially to try to get them in bed at a decent time. I came back to the tent about seven the first night to get the kids ready since they were tired. After all our preparations: pjs, snacks, teeth brushing, arranging the tent, reading, etc. It was still super bright outside and there were people talking all around. I spent a couple of hours trying to help the kids wind down and shut out the noises. Both almost fell asleep only to wake up again. K almost fell asleep while we were reading at 8, then ended up awake until after 10. James was hanging out with his brother and I thought maybe I'd get a little time alone while the kids slept. No dice.

The group next to us was a bunch of guys. The campground quiet time wasn't until 11pm (which seemed later than normal to me) and the guys took the eleven very seriously. They talked and played games until eleven exactly. Then they left, which was nice. Around when they left, the family on the other side (who seemed odious, based on the way they talked and interacted with each other) came back to get ready for bed. They left their car on, with headlights blaring into our tent for over twenty minutes while they got ready. ARG! After they settled down, James came back.

Then around midnight, the guys came back. I figured they'd go to sleep then, since it was after quiet time and they'd already been talking and doing stuff FOREVER. Sorry guys next door, but I don't care how much you run, camp and fish. You are stupid. SHUT UP!

But they did not. They started over. Rebuilt the fire, got out more food, continued talking at normal volume right next to our tent. One guy outright said he had no intention of going to bed until 1:30. 

I passive aggressively flashed my flashlight at them and shushed them for a while. I wanted to go talk to them, point out that they were breaking the rules and I was prepared to break their legs (I get angry when sleep deprived) but they were drinking and there were other campers trying to sleep too so I didn't want to escalate things. James finally called security at the hotel and they came about 1:15 or so. The guys then spent FORTY-FIVE minutes getting ready for bed. Putting out the fire, putting away the food, etc. All while STILL talking. Then they got into the tent and giggled and talked like Junior High girls before finally going to sleep after two in the morning. Of course, it took another hour or so for James and I to sleep. Annnnnnd, K woke up at 5:30. I really wanted to send him to the neighbors' tent, but I didn't.

Not such a fun night of camping.

The second night was nice. Only two other people were still there on Sunday night, and they were quieter than before. And it was only hot, not scorching. We actually slept for most of the night.

The third night was scorching. I checked my phone at 2:30 in the morning, while James and I lay there not sleeping a wink, and the temperature was still 85 degrees. Outside. We got up and took the top (the rain cover) off the tent for even a hint of a breeze. The tent was also full of ants, so that wasn't fun to have them crawling all over us. I later realized that there is a cord flap on the side of the tent if you want to hook up electrical devices through the tent that we didn't zip shut. And the kids had gotten crumbs all over, so it was ant city. At least they didn't bite. But we still didn't get much sleep. And woke at six to rain in the tent. At least the rain was cooling. 

We kept dreaming of camping in the fall. To wear sweaters and have a fire going. To be chilly in the morning and pile together for warmth. That sounded a lot more fun. This summer is proving once and for all that we are not summer people. I hate being hot. It makes me angry. If I'm cold, I just get quiet, pile on the clothes and blankets and get some hot tea. Much better than angry.

So, I'm not sure if it was the answer to our overcrowding at the house to camp. It was more work and more inconvenience, despite the beauty and novelty. And having a nice, large bathroom we didn't have to wait in line to use. Back to the drawing board, I guess!


  1. I'm not laughing at you I swear! I feel your pain in so many ways. I too hate being hot- especially when trying to sleep. And when that sleep is denied me I get angry/irritable as well. You are by far more patient than I would have been with your noisy neighbor guys though. I would have been over there the second they started up again (love that you wanted to break their legs) and have threatened them with something similar. Sorry taht it was a less than ideal trip - however I do admire that you and Jim make it a point to get your family together when ever possible. It will mean so much to the kids one day.

  2. I am soooooooo with you! You'd have to pay me a lot of money to get me camping in the summer. I'm not a summer person and never have been. Being hot makes me so angry. I'm like you - I'd rather be too cold and pile under some blankets with a toasty beverage.