When is the last time you did something for the first time?
A few months back, I started creating my bucket list. One of my items was to run a race...I ran a 5k in December of 2015. Whoop Whoop! Another item was to go camping. Despite my fear of frogs, snakes, field mice, moths, spiders, grasshoppers, cicadas, lizards, bears, raccoons, bats, any flying/buzzing objects, I decided to bring this trip to fruition.
Over the summer, I begged my dad (because he's well equipped for assignments like this) to take me camping. I mean the real kind of camping. Not sleeping outside in the backyard, but in the woods finding our own dinner and finding ways to survive. I lied. I'm not about that finding my own dinner life; we brought our own food with us. Regardless, he found a place, in Maryland, and said let's go!
The forecast for the entire weekend called for rain, so we decided to go to a place that was about 45 minutes (tops!) from his house in northern Maryland. That way if we got washed out, or things went horribly wrong, we could always pack up and come back to his house. However, I was determined to face my fears and become one with nature WITHOUT technology (I took pictures/videos but didn't post).
We arrived to a lot surrounded by trees with a picnic table and a fire ring which would be used to start our dinner. Immediately, my dad hopped out the car to start building our three bedroom tent (I didn't know those existed) and setting up canopies and lanterns before dusk. Obviously, this wasn't his first rodeo but I was still in the air conditioned truck putting on bug spray. I had no idea how to begin setting up the tent. Who knew that I had to put tarp down first? I found out from watching from the truck.
I must admit, we cheated for dinner. We went to pickup my 5 year old nephew and stopped at Chic-Fil-A on the way back to the tent. Plus my dad's track record with campground firewood has been 0 for 3....we might've starved. In his defense, the firewood that they sell at the camp stores is usually damp which makes it more difficult to start fires. By nightfall, we were forced to start a fire and test out all the lanterns and headlamps. The best part about the headlamps is that they're hands-free. The worst part about them is that they attract every bug in the woods. I wasn't about the bug life, so I turned my headlamp out and toasted my marshmallow for s'mores by moonlight.
When it was time for bed, I hopped in the tent failing to realize that it would be 80+ degrees at night and the tent would have poor circulation. I tossed and turned all night because there was no breeze blowing through my tent windows. Not to mention the shadow of a water raft hanging from our canopy reminded me of the killer in "I Know What You Did Last Summer".
Of course I said my prayers and when I finally dozed off, then came the rain. We had to close all of the tent windows cutting off any chance of a breeze to ever get to us. For me, that equates to no sleep. At 5am, my nephew had to go to the bathroom which meant that I had to walk through two camp sites in the dark to a bug infested bath house. I think I cried a little at his request.
Speaking of the bath house, let's discuss how I had to take showers in it and it was filled with spider webs with living spiders, huge water bugs, and moths. I would take University of Maryland's showers over these any day. I was counting down the days to get back home to my own shower. Every trip I took to the bath house required me to sing The Lord Is My Shepherd/Psalm 23 (Cissy Houston's version) to myself.
I was so glad when the sun finally came up. I hopped out of the tent just so that I could get fresh air and be able to see what's in front of me. For breakfast, we started a grease fire by making bacon on a portable stove and the fire pit wouldn't stay lit for our eggs. It's all good because the camp store sold Strawberry Shortcake popsicles....I mean breakfast.
We decided to hike to a lighthouse at Elk Neck State Park in what seemed to be 90+ degree temperatures. I even decided to climb to the top of the lighthouse which could easily cook our breakfast on it's floor on a very hot day. We finished our daily adventure by fishing except a thunderstorm rained on our parade causing us to run uphill back to safety to escape being trapped at the bottom of the woods. By that point in the trip, the rain was welcomed because we had already become one with nature.
After working out the initial kinks, we got used to the wilderness and decided to embrace nature. Or at least I did. Everybody else on the trip snuck home for different reasons and took showers at home. I was the only one who truly survived camping weekend. By Day 3, I didn't even care about the bugs anymore. I realized that the bugs and I still had to coexist. I also asked myself....why am I afraid of these things? I wasn't created to be fearful of objects (my way of convincing myself not to be afraid).
In all seriousness, it was a great experience that helped me to face my fears and appreciate the beauty of nature. What's on your bucket list? What are your fears? What will you do for the first time?