That Time I Had To Rough It

Day 14 - Roughing It Camping Eating From A Can #doodlewashJune2018 Doodlewash

Today we have an art challenge prompt of “camping,” which is certainly outdoor fun for many people, but I have mixed emotions about the experience. I adore nature so that’s an affirmative check mark, but when it comes to eating, sleeping and showering, I have specific tastes. So, yeah, my camping experiences were often less than optimal. As a young kid, I went camping with my grandparents where we would also go fishing during the day. I loved the fishing part, got a little squeamish during the descaling of the fish part before dinner, though enjoyed the time around the picnic table and later the campfire. But then, when it came time to crawl into a tent I lost my interest. Perhaps it was my mild case of claustrophobia, but it was also the many weird sounds that could be heard. These are sounds not heard during the day as they only come from creatures of the night. That sounds a bit like a horror movie, but that was what was playing through my head all night until the first rays of sun finally came to save me. I just felt like I suddenly didn’t belong there anymore and yes, I really missed my bed.

When I was in my early 30’s, I was talked into going on a camping trip with friends. It seemed like the perfect way to reconnect with my youth, as I hadn’t gone camping since that time. I was soon to learn that I had no idea how it was actually done. In order to prepare for the trip, I needed to find a tent and selected the largest one I could find, which actually ended up having odd little dormer windows on two sides making it look like an unfortunate cross between a French cottage, a teepee, and an igloo. It was hideous to look at, but I was certain it would feel more roomy once inside. It did not. Also, I had no idea how to construct it and had to get help from friends in order to make it stand properly. Add to this, I had forgotten to bring anything more than blankets to decorate the inside of the tent. Apparently, despite its miraculous size, it lacked the ability to produce its own air mattress and pillows. Thankfully, a member of our party said the words one never thinks will be the ones needed to hear when she said, “We have an extra air mattress and pillows you could use.”

Apparently, having one air mattress is considered standard, but having a second one on the off chance yours chooses to spring a leak during the event is the mark of a true camper. I was in awe and more than a little thankful. And, of course, desperately hoping hers didn’t spring a leak so I would have to sacrifice mine. Looking back, I can’t actually tell if this was selfish or simply a survival skill. Suffice it say, I wasn’t a great camper. I remember thinking, particularly when I was young, if I wanted to eat food out of a can, I could have stayed at home. My love of nature simply didn’t make me want to give up life’s little luxuries during the entire experience. As my friends grew older with me, however, they soon agreed, and our camping trips switched to climate-controlled cabins. Nature was right outside to enjoy, but there was no longer a need to pretend we weren’t actually just humans after all. But even today, I have fond memories of those early camping trips. Though brief, I’m sure I learned a lot about life and what was truly important while experiencing that time I had to rough it.

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
 Day 14 - Roughing It Camping Eating From A Can #doodlewashJune2018 Doodlewash
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

22 Comments
  1. June Hadaway 4 months ago

    This is just way too funny. I could picture you, eyes wide open all night. But…the pot of pork and beans? Looks pretty tasty.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Hehe… thanks, June! 😃💕Yeah, camping is not really my thing, but pork and beans? Yum!

  2. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    The only part of camping that I ever enjoyed was sitting around the fire enjoying the smell – until the smoke blew in my eyes that is. Your lovely can of beans reminds of the good part!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 I agree! It was so fun until the smoke started burning my eyes. I would have to sit off my myself for a moment just to see clearly again. hehe

  3. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 months ago

    What a hilarious camping adventure. There you are with your tent decorations, expecting the behemoth structure to produce the mattress and pillows. Good thing you didn’t ask it to cook. Or did you ask your friends? You’re lucky the thing didn’t collapse over you in the middle of the night.

    I loved camping with my sons, the Boy Scout Eagle Scouts – that is, I loved hiking around the mountain trails and eating a foil dinner. Hamburger and potatoes taste so good spooned out of a hot foil pack especially when poured over with BBQ sauce. But when it came to sleeping, I really wanted to hike right back to a Best Western and check in. And use their bathroom too!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Oh yes… since I don’t even cook at home, the idea of cooking in the wilderness completely escaped me so I relied on friends for that as well. And their technical prowess kept the tent standing! lol And yes to the food in foil… hehe… just tastes awesome! But yes, please let me go sleep in a real bed after dinner. lol

  4. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    Great little painting, especially the rock and pan! I don’t like camping either, although I love hiking and nature. My ideal is a luxury lodge adjacent to a National Park.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 And yes to a luxury lodge! I’m in! hehe

  5. SnehLata Maheshwari 4 months ago

    I liked camping.but we stayed in the forest gest house in beautiful place. the wild life was there.and all arrangements of food,we had cooks so no problems ofany thing.
    Yours can beens is pretty as well. thanks

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Snehlata! 😃💕 Your version sounds like the perfect version of camping! hehe

  6. Julia Proulx 4 months ago

    Hahaha! Love the camping story Charlie. It’s an experience not for everyone. I, on the other hand love laying awake and listening to the birds early in the morning and trying to pick out the different ones. Drifting back to sleep and getting up later when the sun is on the tent is lovely too.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Julia! 😃💕 And yay that you love camping! Have to admit I did like the birds in the morning, or maybe that it was just actually morning and I didn’t have to be so wary of the night creatures! lol 😉

  7. Lisa 4 months ago

    Great story! I loved camping! But there was the time my friend and I went camping and backpacking on isle Royale in lake Superior. We were woefully unprepared and it rained every day. Suffice it to say, those are now our favorite camping stories ever! 😁 Hardship and leaky rain ponchos make for great tales of misery! Like the fact that we didn’t know that we couldn’t have camp fires on the island, so the meat we took along to eat ended up dumped down a pit toilet before it stank too bad.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Haha… see? Those not so great moments turn out to be the best memories of all! Lol Love that story!

  8. Mary Roff 4 months ago

    Love the painting and your camping story. Love nature but give me a hotel with room service at the end of the day.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Mary!! 😃💕 You and be both! Okay, I could “rough it” without room service, but I just want a proper bed and shower! 😉

  9. Karen Paul 4 months ago

    I love these childhood stories!I can relae to to not being so easy going about stuff we did as a kid when roughing it!!I still LOVE camping though!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, Karen! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, there were SO many things I loved about camping, and even the tent sleeping I finally got used to. But a real shower… I found out that’s my vice. I need it! lol

  10. smzang 4 months ago

    Big Grin…

    I love the campfire and the stars, and of course the fireflies…all of which I can enjoy
    from the folding chair sitting outside the cabin door. I love the mellow feeling of
    climbing between the sheets of a bed made with hospital corners in a cabin that
    has screens over the windows and locks on the doors.

    Do you suppose Bush’s Baked Beans will ever fade from the shelf?

    Another great experience from your pen and brush. Thank you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 Yay to cabin… it’s still very rustic, but when plumbed with a nice shower and toilet, it makes the whole experience all the better. And I dearly hope that Bush’s Baked Beans never leaves the shelves. That would be a sad day indeed! hehe

  11. Rebecca Tromel 4 months ago

    Deluxe Cabins at the State Parks are quite nice, if you can get into one! We recently bought a Tent Trailer. Still trying to enjoying the sleeping Not In My Bed part though. My sympathies on your camping experiences!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      hehe! Yay! I’m so happy I’m not alone, Rebecca! 😃💕 I adore nature, but I want to end the experience in a rather fluffy bed with no mosquitos! lol

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