Holiday in the ‘great’ outdoors


Let me state, for the record, what has long been suspected and recently proven: I am not a trooper.
Trooper. A trooper being one of those positive, optimistic souls who find possibility and the potential for joy untold in virtually any activity short of (and possibly including) a natural disaster.
Somewhere, some plucky type is surveying the scorched earth and tattered personal property that remains after, say, a tornado, and saying gaily, “that wind certainly did leave us a CLEAN SLATE now didn’t it?”
I am not that person. I do not now, nor have I ever, pretended to be that sort.
I am more of an upbeat pessimist. I rather presume that if something can go wrong, it will, and choose to be pleasantly surprised on the rarest of occasions when I am blessedly proven wrong.
Labor Day weekend, sadly, was not one such an occasion.
Camping. We spent the very long holiday weekend camping with friends.
I use the term “camping” loosely here to describe standing in a cold driving rain while daydreaming about dry underwear.
Or, as I like to point out (incessantly) if I called a group of my dearest friends on a drab and dreary, cold, wet day and invited them to sit around a bonfire in my back yard in wet clothing it would be termed insanity.
If we do it in the middle of a field with a quarter mile walk to the nearest bathroom, we call it camping.
Granted, I’ve never felt so close to a group of friends in my life, but this is largely due to having to huddle together for warmth. For most of the first day, we actually placed a canvas rain canopy OVER the fire.
At that point figuring that if the canopy caught fire, at least we’d be warm, however briefly, when the flames danced above our heads. Alas, it was not to be.
Stuck. If there is anything worse than being stuck camping in a cold, driving rain for three days straight, it is being stuck camping in a cold, driving rain for three days with people who don’t have the sense to come in out of it.
Worse, is realizing you have become one of those people. It is not so much an experience you savor, but one you savor knowing you survived at all.
Schedule. Friday – set up camp in chilly rain. Tell selves it will all clear up “in the morning.”
Saturday – 3 a.m.-ish – wake up soaking wet as tent dumps gathered water on my sleeping bag.
Husband remains dry but I wake him up with my screaming and flailing and placing of feet atop his face in my haste to retreat the downpour.
Think (optimistically!) it is a good thing children are asleep on air mattresses. Surely this will help them stay afloat in the deep end of the tent?
Saturday – all day. Huddle in rain. (See above.)
Saturday night – travel to Laundromat (a first) and spend evening drying out sleeping bags and every single item of drenched clothing that won’t dry when hung out in driving rain. (See above.)
I have long stated that I have a) never been to a Laundromat; and b) never eaten SPAM.
Now, sadly, all I have to cling to is the SPAM. Laundromat proves to be quite pleasant. I would have slept there if they had let me.
Sunday – see Saturday, then rinse and repeat. There is a brief flurry of activity that pulls us from our huddle when a friend’s child falls from a scooter and breaks his collarbone.
Broken child returns a few hours later gamely determined to continue camping (see definition of “trooper” above).
Notes wryly that, “I’m always with the Seabolts when I break something.”
Who says we bring nothing to the party?
Monday. What is that bright golden orb in the sky? Could it be? Is it sunshine? We recoil in horror unsure of ourselves. It’s been so long.
We don’t really recognize the sun. How lovely to have that hot sun beating down on our damp belongings – lending a nice humid haze to the proceedings as we load our automobiles with copious amounts of mud for the trip home.
Home. Once there, I unpacked and did laundry for 10 days straight in a vain attempt to catch up.
When packing away the camping gear I did make one tiny note to myself: “In the event of inclement weather, the drawstring on a rain parka hood may be used to strangle yourself – or any spouse who makes you go camping in the rain.”
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt wants a motor home. She welcomes comment c/o; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; and


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.