I read this on an Anne Taintor refrigerator magnet several years ago, and it has stuck with me because it is so, so true: “I love not camping.”
You’d think it would be different when camping in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, on a sandy beach overlooking the ocean. You’d be wrong.
“But you love to travel,” a friend pointed out last night. Yes, and I love the idea of camping. Sometimes I even get excited about it. Then, I find myself hauling wood for a mile while horseflies attack my neck and legs, and the fun factor drops precipitously.
Truth is, I am a totally privileged, prima donna wuss when it comes to camping, and camping in paradise is apparently no exception. I take full responsibility for this. In my defense however, I’ve slept on train station floors, in a toddler bed with my feet dangling off the end, in the homes of strangers, in the back of a Subaru Outback while driving through the Outback for a month, and on dirty sheets in a filthy hotel in Laos. Of these, there is only one experience over which I’d choose tent camping. More on that in a future post.
So when BackpackMister suggested we leave our perfectly lovely Airbnb rental at a friend’s home in Waimea to go camping on the North Shore and hiking on the Kalalau Trail, I probably should have resisted. But he has a way of convincing me to do things outside my comfort zone which I eventually am glad I did (for example, hiking The Inca Trail). The call of the trail was strong and a friend offered to loan us her tent, so we gassed up our rent-a-wreck and headed toward the North Shore.
Once there, the beach was stunning.
Other campers were happily sipping beers and playing Hacky Sack outside their tents as we unpacked our tent on a relatively-flat plot of land. Children were doing cartwheels in the grass. It seemed idyllic, but the wind was whipping, making our efforts difficult. We put the full cooler on top of the tent to hold it down and emptied the tent bag.
There were no tent stakes.
Under normal circumstances, this might not have been an issue. However as we tried to insert the tent poles, the tent filled with air and attempted to take off, like a kite. The flat ground wouldn’t do; we needed something to anchor ourselves to, so we moved between two palm trees, over an uneven mound of grass and rocks. After more than an hour of placing heavy items in the tent to keep it grounded, then trying to tie to the tent to rocks and trees to gain some stability, we were frustrated. The sun was setting. The hippies were still playing Hacky Sack, laughing and frolicking in the park as if to mock us. A family next to us was grilling meat.
“Isn’t there a hotel around here? A resort?” I asked.
My request fell on deaf ears. With our frustration at its peak, we began to argue.
My philosophy is that when travel gets hard or frustrating, when you’re lost or stuck or don’t know what to do, it’s best just to get yourself something to drink and sit down for a while to catch your breath and regroup. It’s a philosophy that has served me well over the years.
So it was at that moment, in a rage, that I stormed off to the beach with a beer in hand, declaring that I would not miss the sunset. I plopped down angrily in the sand and sipped my beer while BackpackMister continued to wrestle with the tent.
Five minutes later, he was beside me, beer in hand.
We watched the sunset, and reset. Then, we headed back to the tent and miraculously found a way to ensure it would not fly away that night. Without stakes, however, it was a saggy mess which flapped noisily in the wind.
With darkness descending, we knew it would not be safe to build a campfire with the wood we’d brought, so we fixed ourselves some cold sandwiches and oreos for dinner. It was then that we realized we had no flashlights.
“Well, I guess it’s time for bed,” said BackpackMister.
The tent shook and rattled so loudly, sleep was impossible. I would drift off only to awaken in a panic, thinking someone was breaking into the tent to bring us to a quick and bitter end. My wussiness was at its peak. Cold dinner. No light. Hard ground. No hot water. Sand in my sleeping bag. No campfire. Worse, the ventilation from the bathrooms wafted straight toward us. I’d had it. Tears began to roll down my cheeks – yes, it seems ridiculous now. But it was in that moment BackpackMister said the sweetest words I will never forget as long as I live.
“I’m so sorry, Charish. I promise you, we will never go camping again.”
Shortly thereafter, I went to the car, where I proceeded to make myself a nest of blankets and pillows in the back of the rent-a-wreck, next to the firewood we would never use. There I slept until morning, when hikers and hippies began to rouse themselves for the day.
Then Backpack Mister and I packed up the tent, rolled our sleeping bags and set out for the beautiful Kalalau Trail.
A hike which, in the end, made it all worthwhile.
Though I fully intend to hold the Mister to his promise.
Charish Badzinski is an explorer, food-lover and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb.
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at rollerbaggoddess.wordpress.com.