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Real Camping is the Best

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Real Camping is the Best

and camping in Dallas will 'jinx' you

 

I never camped before I came to Idaho. Well, I take that back, I have seen pictures of my parents and I camping when I was young, but I don’t actually remember it.

I admit, learning to camp is an art and I didn’t really get it for a long time. I came to Idaho with the idea that if others can do it so can I, not realizing it’s not as easy as it looks or sounds! 

I came with a companion, Aspen, my pup. Just the two of us on a wildlife adventure, ready to outwit even the smartest of creatures! First, however we had to conquer our portable shelter. I didn’t know anything about tents and I’m pretty sure I bought the most complicated tent in the store. They say one “pitches” a tent, but for me, it was as difficult as building a small house! I had taken the term “pitching” literally. Instructions? Ha! I don’t need no stinkin’ instructions! 

It only took me a mere four hours to figure out how to set my tent up and even then it was not real stable. I had it in my mind that I could come to Idaho, pitch my tent and live off fish and rain water forever! After my first camping experience I realized just how naïve I was. Even fishing was (and is) a sport I have yet to become accomplished at, but not for lack of trying. Evidently, the only way I am going to catch a fish is to take Capt. Ken’s Seagull Charter—to date, that’s the only way I have managed to wrangle a fish! 

It was a good thing I did bring snacks to Idaho, because living off the land wasn’t happening for me. The whole way from Texas to Idaho, all I could think of was the relative calm I was fixing to collapse into. I rented motel rooms twice on the way north; I didn’t want to open the tent box until I had reached my Idaho destination. 

There were many things about camping I had not thought through. I never even considered the call of nature, which soon horrified me! How could I not have thought of that? Then I came across a camp space that said “no facilities.” I quickly learned that camping could be pretty primitive and I had better learn to deal with it. 

I thought I took everything needed to camp, and I thought I had a great set up for camping. My vehicle was packed top to bottom with what I thought I would need to successfully camp. Then, after camping on my own for a few years, I spent a summer camping with Kathy Neumann from Clark Fork and learned all about Idaho camping, Martha Stewart style! Kathy and I pulled into a camp spot, she pulled out her little 4x4 box of camping gear (antique salt shakers, lace tablecloth, candles, almost complete with a rainbow back drop!). It was amazing for me to think camping could be so “pretty.” Not at all like my initial camp outing, which was plain, and even dirty. Far be it from Kathy to have even a dust particle at her table. 

That was an awesome summer and I learned a lot about not having to do without just because you’re sleeping outdoors. After that summer with Kathy the camping Queen, I left for Texas to babysit my youngest granddaughter, Loralei, so she wouldn’t have to go directly into day care. Weekends were mine, so I thought I would take what I gleaned from Kathy and try camping in Texas. 

First of all, you have to know I was staying in Wylie, which is near Dallas. I looked for weeks to “reserve” (yeah, reserve, no spontaneity there!) a spot to camp, near some water, near some shade, yet away from the hordes of campers who crowd the lakes in the area. For a mere $30 a night you to could stay near water, overnight. I couldn’t find anything isolated, and ended up setting up camp by a lake in a spot that barely accommodated my tent and car. No spreading out, that would be an additional  fee. 

Sharing the lakeside with what seemed like a small city I set up my little area, keeping in mind all the tips I had learned from Kathy. There was a picnic table and I placed my tablecloth and accessories in a way I knew would make Kathy proud. My decorative candles flickered in the breeze and the laughter aimed at my camping skills floated over to me from the adjacent camp areas. The Texas air currents furiously whipped my tablecloth into the neighboring campsite, and my camping frills were gone with the wind. I was only slightly comforted by the thought that I didn’t catch anyone else’s tent on fire. 

Camping in what is referred to as the “solitude” of a Texas lake is very different than an outing in Idaho. I could safely camp in Idaho and never see more than two or three people, sometimes less. In Texas, I couldn’t even take Aspen with me because there is no real retreat from the people there. Aspen would have been offended by all the people surrounding our tent. I gave it a good try though. It was like sleeping under the stars in the backyard of a high rise apartment building. At least, there were supposed to be stars in the sky, but the sky is so bright from the street lights, it was impossible to see them.  

There were those people who didn’t respect the “no pets” sign, ignoring it and bringing along their dogs and from the sound of it their neighborhood dogs also. Children screaming not six feet from where my head was trying to relax. The woman next to me lay griping at her husband for noisily passing gas. I didn’t need to hear her nag to know exactly what he had done. I could hear every little repulsive noise with my own ears. Even though people were supposed to pipe down after sunset, there were still those few determined to keep me awake into the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t crickets and frogs that lulled me to sleep, there was no sleep to be had! 

With no relaxing I left my $30 campsite feeling more than a bit agitated. I knew for that 30 bucks, I could have had a massage and slept in my own comfy bed at home. For that 30 bucks, I could have visited a chiropractor and had my aches and pains whipped into submission. Thirty bucks would have bought me room service and a movie, or a trip to the theater twice (plus popcorn!) or even a boom box and a couple of Kenny G CDs from the local thrift store to relax with. The list goes on. 

I quickly determined that dusty, Texas camping wasn’t what I was yearning for. I needed the mountains, fresh air and the friendly faces of Idaho! Here, I can camp in my own back yard and find more comfort than I did in Texas. 

It’s not that Texans don’t try, don’t get me wrong. Texans are friendly most of the time and they do enjoy visiting while they’re camping, learning everything they can about their fellow campers. They just don’t understand what real camping feels like. They don’t know what it’s like to dip your toes in water so clean and clear you can see the bottom. They certainly don’t know what it’s like to swim in a lake that you don’t have to share with snake. Yikes! They don’t know what it is to sleep peacefully, unworried about small, poison critters trying to creep into your tent. Nope, even as little as I know about camping, Idaho camping trumps Texas camping hands down! 

So get out in the woods. But if you see my tent, keep your distance, okay?

 

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Author info

Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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Texas, camping, Jinxed

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