Ground rules


Our little family spent a lovely day and night at the Clear Creek Recreation Area several weeks ago.

It was our first experience camping somewhere other than our front yard. 

I wasn't certain we needed reservations, but I decided it would be a good idea to call a few days ahead of time. I'm glad I did because the staff person I spoke to picked out a site that was close to the water once I told her we would be bringing a kayak.

The night before, I worked late at the paper and left Zac and Wyatt in charge of getting our things together. This might be considered an exercise in trust since I wasn't going to have time to go behind them and make sure everything got in the car. For all I knew as we set out, our available supplies might have been five fishing poles, three tackle boxes and a can of Pringles.

Once we arrived at Clear Creek, I was surprised to see how many people would be camping alongside us. I thought we would be getting away from the world for the weekend, but I saw more people at the campground than I would have if we had stayed at home.

Thankfully, everyone we met was very nice and people seemed to give each other room to enjoy the great outdoors on their own terms.

We got the tent set up and burgers on the grill with no problems. I think we had been there less than an hour when I realized my phone battery was almost dead. 

We kept our phones with a little bit of charge in case they were needed in an emergency but essentially we detached from them for the rest of the weekend.

The only screen I allowed myself was my Kindle because I wanted to get in a lot of reading.

The weather couldn't have been nicer. It was in the upper 80s, but it didn't feel it. Wyatt and I took turns in the kayak, and Zac did a little fishing.

I enjoyed walking around our loop and looking at all of the different campsites. I had no idea that decorating your site was a thing. We saw people that had strung lights, put out welcome signs and garden statues and set up full patio sets. 

Our little site, which consisted of two cars, a tent and a hammock chair, looked pitiful by comparison.  

As evening set in, more people started riding their bikes around the loop and a group of kids started running around communicating with each other via walkie-talkie.

The whole scene reminded me of one from "The Long, Long Trailer" where Lucy and Desi spend the night in a motor home park that looks like a little neighborhood.

Once it was good and dark, we turned in for the night, and that's when things went off the rails.

As I said, this was our first real camping trip, so we mostly made do with what we had in terms of gear and one thing we did not have was an air mattress.

No big deal, I thought. Sleeping bags will be fine.

I had spent about five minutes in the tent earlier in the day and told Zac that the rain tarp was going to have to go because of my adult onset claustrophobia. It's not a huge deal, but I don't do underground caves well and apparently I don't like being shut up in tents either.

So we had a great view of the sky that night. It was the ground that was the real problem.

I spent about an hour tossing and turning. Meanwhile, our dog, Tyson, jumped up at every new sound and tried to peek out the side of the tent, which was about an inch too high for him.

Around midnight, I grabbed my keys and told Zac that if he needed me, he could find me in the backseat of my car — and that's exactly where he found me, sound asleep, about four hours later.

I told a few people about my miserable night and they all said, "Girl, you need an air mattress if you're going to do that again." I'm inclined to agree.