With a grunt, I lifted the last box of supplies onto the picnic table at our campsite.
The tent was up. The fire was lit. The children were covered in dirt and rushing through the brush. Whiskey Riff Lake Life Playlist was exploding. And I cracked my first camping beer of the weekend.
There’s no better beer than the first beer of the camping trip. I wolfed down a Coors Light with Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” playing over the speakers and the smell of fresh pine and grilled meat in the air.
Unfortunately, this moment was the highlight of my weekend at the lake, thanks to a little thing called “camping with young children”.
It started off so well, with an efficient camp setup, a playlist that made the nearby site jealous, and the cold euphoria of the best beer I’ve ever tasted. I felt the glow of the flames and watched the sun set behind a redwood as I planned my perfect day….
Tomorrow, I thought, I would cook eggs in a cast-iron skillet while the boys played with sticks in the dust. I packed us a lunch, filled the cooler with beers and headed to the lake. I showed my boys how to bait a hook and laughed when they failed. Then I would become a hero catching fish after fish just for them. It would be magical.
Then my child threw up on my sleeping bag.
I spent the whole night waking up in terror thinking the kid coughing on my face was about to give me the Exorcist treatment. The next morning the boys were trying to impale each other with the sticks, so my wife cooked lunch while I broke my back carrying a screaming toddler in circles.
When we finally got to the lake, high winds blew sand into my eyes and quashed any plans to cast a line. Never mind, because my whiny brood insisted on heading straight for the lakeside playground anyway. My child kept throwing up every twenty minutes.
Disheartened, I walked to the end of the empty wharf (it was of course closed) and saw a sign that said “This place is a country music song waiting to happen”. “That’s funny,” I thought, wiping some remnants of vomit off my shoes. I expected more “Good Time” than “Welcome to Hard Times”.
Shortly after, we returned home. Less than 24 hours after sipping that lovely first beer, I was packing up the car and sporting a good fever inherited from my son, hoping my new cough wouldn’t turn into vomiting on the steering wheel on the way. out of the mountains.
You quickly learn as a parent that these trips are for your kids, not you. You’re racing that car and making big plans like you used to. Then you cancel those plans and find yourself at the lakeside playground with vomit all over your shoes.
But even the simplest memories you create with your family in the great outdoors are worth it…as long as you savor that first camping beer before the trip descends into misery.
Simple times, cold beer, misery and vomiting.
Sounds like a country song to me.