Last week was Valentine’s Day, but sadly I didn’t get to go out on a nice romantic date with my husband because he was working out of town. Instead, he and I made plans for the weekend. A nice, romantic getaway, just the two of us…in the woods. That’s right, we went camping.
Prior to this I had only been camping once before when I was a little girl (I think I was eleven) with my dad. That was a very long time ago and, to be honest, I don’t remember all that much about it other than I had fun. So when my husband suggested we go camping this past weekend, something we have been contemplating for a while, I enthusiastically agreed. When I got home from work Friday evening we loaded up the car to near overflowing and headed out for the campgrounds of Ginnie Springs.
It was well past dark when we got there, which meant that we got to set everything up with nothing but the headlights of the car, a lantern, and two flashlights to help us see what we were doing. Thankfully, my husband is a smart man and made us do a trial run of setting the tent up earlier in the week, so we at least knew how to do it. In much less time than I would have suspected, we had everything set up and hamburgers grilling over the fire. Once our bellies were full, we crawled into our sleeping bags (which were situated on top on some lovely camping cots) and fell into an exhausted sleep.
Saturday was our day of exploration and fun. After a HUGE breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, and grits, we hiked all around the woods (a dangerous endeavor for the clumsy, which is why my husband fashioned me a sturdy walking stick with his axe and machete), then went to look at the springs where we discovered we could rent kayaks. We were all over that. We got to spend two of the most peaceful hours paddling along the river taking in the beauty surrounding us. It was absolutely gorgeous. I could barely lift my arms the next day, but that was a small price to pay.
For dinner that evening we skewered chicken on palmetto sticks and grilled it over the fire. It felt very primitive, so naturally I loved it. I had pretty much spent the entire day pretending I was a number of different characters from my favorite fantasy books – Katniss, Hermione, Kahlan, Pippin (yeah, I would have been the mischievous hobbit always causing trouble). I thought that I was some grand adventurer on a noble quest of bravery, surviving on the land. Until my husband went to go take a shower. And I was alone. In the dark. In the woods.
Before I get into my story I should explain that I wasn’t actually alone in the woods. The campsites at Ginnie Springs are all right off the road, so you are surrounded by other campsites and campers, and the sites are more on the outskirts of the woods, not deep within. There were several other groups of campers near us and the property fence line was not very far behind our camp. I was perfectly and completely safe.
Now back to my noble quest of bravery.
There I was, sitting cozily by the fire texting (they had cell phones in The Lord of the Rings, right?) two of my friends, one of whom I was discussing the latest episode Glee with, when I heard a rustling noise behind me. I picked up the flashlight and slowly moved its beam across the treeline.
I sat back down and continued my conversations when I heard it again. This time I was more meticulous in my examination, but I still didn’t see anything. Wait…I think…yes, a pair of eyes reflecting in the light. I trained the light on those reflected eyes and waited for the creature to move so I could see what it was. Finally, it emerged and I saw that it was a fox. The creature stared at me before running into the trees again.
I sat back down and told my two friends of the close call. One laughed at me and the other started quoting taglines from horror movies (I know! Insensitive boys, right?!). By that point my adrenaline was pumping and I started to see things in the shadows being put off by the fire. I was very tense and kept scanning the area. Then several things happened at once: I heard another rustling sound, but this time in front of me, and I saw something bounding for me out of the corner of my eye.
Flashlight in hand, I hopped to my feet and shone the light to my left and the approaching shadow.
I had quite literally screamed at a shadow. The fire had created a patch of light and when I shifted in my chair it created a shadow that I turned into an unknown creature coming to attack me. Yeah, I felt dumb. But I really had heard a rustling noise. My good friend Fox had circled around and was trying to gain access to our camp from the front. He stared at me for several seconds before finally giving up and scampering off for good.
I, of course, filled my friends in on what had happened and they continued in their cruel laughter and taunting. I spent the remainder of the time it took for my husband to return on my feet, revolving in a slow circle, shining the flashlight into every corner of the woods it would reach. I think it is now safe to say that I wouldn’t last five minutes in the Hunger Games.
In spite of my close call with death by shadow, I had a ton of fun on our camping trip. We are already making plans to go camping again in the near future. Maybe next time I will bring my bow so that it’s more likely the odds will be ever in my favor.
Have you ever been camping? What are your favorite things to do on a camping trip? Least favorite? Any funny stories? Let me know in the comments.