The Chat: We're in the sleep-indoors camp

JEN:I just returned from a camping weekend. My friend, Lisa, and I took our kids — five in all — to Lebanon Hills Campground in Apple Valley. No husbands allowed. (OK, fine. They were allowed. They just had other obligations.)

TRACY:You went camping? I didn't know you were into that.

JEN:Me, either. To be honest, I love the idea of camping. I do not love camping. I like sleep. I like refrigerators. I like not having my food floating in a cooler full of ice water all weekend. But I did get to eat potato chips and French onion dip for two solid days. I haven't done that in years.

TRACY:Oh, man. You need to double book a camping trip with a two-day cleanse.

JOY:I did an all-female camping and kayaking trip last summer. Glamping , actually. (Editor's note: "Glamping" is defined as "glamorous camping.")


JEN:Glamping! Now that sounds like something I could get into.

JOY:It was a guided trip. The hosts put up the tents, made the beds, cooked all the food (and it was amazing) and cleaned up. They provided everything, including the air mattresses and sleeping bags. They were very comfy, I might add. We met in Stillwater and then a van took us up the St. Croix. We glamped at a state park, then kayaked down the St. Croix the next day. It's much more fun when someone else does all the hard work.

JEN:Wow. I'd never heard of full-service camping.

JOY:It was raining in the morning, and the hosts showed up at our tent door with hot cups of coffee.

TRACY:Coffee is the turning point in any camping trip.

JEN:Tracy, are you a camper?

TRACY:I think I'm even more noncommittal than you, actually. I'll go one step further than "I like the idea of camping" and say, "I'm not in favor of not camping!" I haven't had a bad experience, so I don't know why. Maybe I'm suppressing a s'mores overdose.

JEN:For me, the best part of camping is the fresh air … and the pictures. We had great pictures last weekend. Pictures of sitting around the fire. Pictures of kayaking. But at 2 a.m., as I laid in a deflating air mattress, listening to the rain on the tent, I remembered that I'd left my book on the picnic table. And I thought: I can get fresh air on a hike, too, dangit.


TRACY:Are you into "regular" camping, Joy?

JOY:I didn't do much with the kids when they were little. That was just way too much work. But I was the queen of "roughing it" in my teens and early 20s. I spent an entire summer — three months — in a two-man tent.

JEN:You camped for three months?!

JOY:In the wilderness, not a campground. We had no running water source — only a mountain lake and an outhouse. There were mice in everything. We went into town once a week to shower and shave.


JEN:Were you hiding from someone? On the lam?

JOY:It was my job. I was 20 years old. I was outfitting backpackers in the Wind River range in Wyoming. I think I made $300 that summer. Total.

JEN:How did you end up doing that?


JOY:My college roommate gave me the info. By the way, we are still friends.

JEN:What's the first thing you did when you were done?

TRACY:I know I'd take a three-day bath.

JOY:I had an enormous steak. T-bone. I'd been living off of oatmeal and dehydrated packaged food all summer. I was skinny as hell.

TRACY:"It was a fabulous weight loss plan, darling."

JOY: Hard physical work and no food will do that. It really was a good experience, though. Not sure what lessons I learned, but I came back with some good stories.

TRACY:You know, when it comes to camping, I just wish I could do it for six hours. Because my overall thought, after the s'more's are gone, is: "I'm going to end up sleeping in the car." I don't know that I ever have, but it is the thought of having the car seat as a fallback plan that keeps me in the game.

JEN:Oh my goodness, I told the boys that last weekend. If it's too hot/cold/rainy, we will sleep in the car. Actually, that would've made a good story, too.


JOY:And life is all about the good stories.

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