Camping has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Previously, I wrote about “camping with horses” which can be delightful or distressing, depending on how you go about it! My advice is for you to trail ride all day with a camping pack and rider on your horse so he’s good and tired when it’s time to settle down for the evening. This next bit of advice, which you are about to read, is more personal than practical, though there are some elements to it which you may find helpful!
Camping in the North Georgia Mountains was a favorite of mine when my children were small. We lived in Jacksonville, Florida, at the time, so it wasn’t too far to travel with the little ones. We especially enjoyed camping near Helen, Georgia, which is a sweet little Bavarian-style town.
Tent camping can be fraught with all kinds of problems; from heating to cooling, rain and wind, mosquitos sneaking inside because someone didn’t zip the tent closed, air mattresses that mysteriously deflate while you sleep, and more. Air mattresses can be the bane of tent camping, for a number of reasons. If you are way up in the middle of the mountains, far from civilization, and your mattress deflates while you sleep, there’s not much you can do. Finding and fixing the leak is always challenging, too. If your site is not level, you either get a rush of blood to your head, or your feet take on a gravitational pull that feels like you’ll soon be sliding out the tent and down the mountain. If you camp at a time when the air is cool in the evening, your mattress can feel like sleeping on a frozen pond. I’ve experienced all of these, including a deflating mattress on top of a gravel tent pad. Gravel. That’s exactly what happened on my last visit to the North Georgia Mountains. We had lovely little camping spot, a bit downhill from the rv campers. On the first night, the mattress deflated. It was about 2 am, and there we were, lying on top of rocks with a bit of plastic between us and the gravel. Thankfully, the children were fast asleep and unaware of the misery their parents were experiencing. Grouchy and sleepless, I slipped out of the tent while my husband tried to find the leak. The night air was cool and sweet and I as I looked up hill toward the area of the comfy campers, I saw the biggest, most beautiful RV castle I have ever seen. Oh how I envied them at that moment. All the glorious comforts of home contained in a mobile paradise. For all the world, it looked like it was plated in the finest gold. And there I was, lumpy from gravel, miserable from sleeplessness, and feeling very deprived.
In the morning, the children awoke and were raring to go. I made breakfast over an open fire all the while thinking about the castle on the hill. I imagined they were waking up in the finest linens after a long luxurious night of sleep, their coffee already perking to the sound of their happy heartbeats. Meanwhile, my coffee was barely starting to perk and I just knew when it was ready, it would be full of grounds. Gloom, despair, and agony on me…
Later in the day, we met the folks who owned the beautiful RV parked over our heads. They, too, had traveled from Florida and we struck up a lively conversation about Gators and Seminoles. The luxury campers were from Tallahasee and it’s almost a requirement to route for Florida State if you live in Tallahasee. We spoke about a lot of things, and I couldn’t help but notice the size of her diamond ring. Normally, I would just admire something like that, and not think much of it other than it was impressive in size and lovely. But, you know, sleeping on rocks can have a bad effect on a person. A tired, grumpy, lumpy person. I was deep in the sleep-deprived, self-pity mode. Anyway, the luxury campers were absolutely the nicest people. They fussed over our two children, asked all kinds of nice questions about our lives, invited us to dinner in the camper, and then came down the hill to visit our campsite, too. We shared a glass of wine or two before they headed uphill to the castle on wheels. After they had gone out of sight, I began to cry a little. The fire was slowly fading, I was absolutely exhausted, and I sat there thinking about my life. I began to think about my two beautiful children, my little yellow house with the white picket fence, and my wonderful husband (who successfully fixed the air mattress). I had little to be envious of, as it turns out. Our luxury camping friends sold everything they had, all their worldly goods and possessions, with the exception of her wedding ring, to buy that beautiful camper. He was dying of cancer. I should say, living with cancer because that’s exactly what they were doing, until he couldn’t. They were traveling the country, as much as possible, before the cancer would take its toll.
The lesson from this camping trip is simple: the best sleep happens when you go to bed with a thankful heart.
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