The Diary of Campground No-Sense



8 a.m.

I am about to do something that makes no sense. I have bought a used tent, new cots, sleeping bags, pads for the cots, a camp stove with a stainless steel coffee percolator, and the coup de gras—a portable flushable loo. Within the hour I will become a camper, something I haven’t done since I was 23. Um, that was 43 years ago—not counting my stays at Motel 6 here and there along Interstate 40. Besides a campout with my camp-virgin spouse, the diabetic cat, Mouser, comes with too.

8:30 a.m.

The truck looks like a hoarder’s storage shed. All of this for one night’s campout?

9 a.m.

The campsite is beautiful and quiet. It seems as though spouse is getting in touch with his inner Cub Scout.

9:30 a.m.

I don’t know if a 67-year-old man with long white hair can still earn a Cub Scout badge, but he successfully launched the tent, which is also billed as a three-room cottage. Squirrels everywhere.

Fat Albert
Fat Albert

10:15 a.m.

Scouted out a good locale to get that perfect sunset sinking into the ocean photo this evening. Now to find where to stand at sunrise.

11 a.m.

June gloom is gone and the sun shines, thanks to those onshore winds at about 15 to 20 knots! The camp glories in the sun and tent is beautiful beneath two Monterey pines—the lucky ones still alive in this record-breaking California drought. The in-tent (no pun in-tented) is to unplug. But, alas, I see four bars on my iPhone.

11:15 a.m.

Just texted a message and some camp photos to my daughters.

11:20 a.m.

I think I heard my oldest daughter in Santa Fe laughing. She didn’t have to text LOL.

11:30 a.m.

Sent spouse home to get more ice. Maybe pick up some champagne, you know, to properly christen this maiden campout. Home? Oh, I should mention, the campground is about 2.5 miles from my home. Can’t be too cautious, you know.


Champagne in plastic cups, sandwiches, and conversation. “Well what do you think?” Spouse queries. “I’m cool with it. It’s kind of nice being forced to do nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. My plan is to continue reading through “California Girls” and fix a few things in it. It’s easier to do when I don’t have distractions.” Yikes! A squirrel just landed next to me on the bench  And jays squawk coded messages because there is an apparent jay convention at our camp. Where’s my camera? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 p.m.

OMG! I just hissed like a snake at a squirrel. It dashed back behind the pine trees.

1:07 p.m.

Well, that was short lived. Snakes must have short attention spans because the squirrels are back, especially Fat Albert. NO!!!! I WILL NOT START NAMING SQUIRRELS. But I have.

1:30 p.m.

Time to edit the manuscript. I mean, why am I writing a camp diary and not editing? I better check my email first. Hmmmm, wonder what they are all doing on Facebook? Stop it, Charmaine! I’m here to edit manuscript not read Facebook posts. Honestly, ask me in five minutes what I just read on Facebook, and I’ll have not one clue.

3 p.m.

Time for spouse to bring the cat from home and to the camp. We decided to make his virgin campout a tad less stressful and bring him just before his snack time. Food always makes him feel at home. But why bring the cat? Isn’t that kind of silly? Well, this whole thing is kind of silly. But I’m liking just sitting at this old wooden table, in the sun, with the ocean at my back and a home on the range view before me. But the cat? Oh yeah, Mouser must have 5 units of insulin every 12 hours. Ninety minutes before, he gets 1/4 cup of special diabetic dry food so that the insulin doesn’t knock him for a loop after no food for 12 hours. It’s complicated, but Mouser keeps getting good reports and his vet says it’s because he’s regimented with little variation.

3:45 p.m.

Spouse and Mouser are in the camp. Mouser’s exploring the tent. Guess he’s slept most of the day because the first thing he did was visit his sandbox—in the same privacy room as the amazing gray flushable loo.

4 p.m.

Before Mouser devoured his dry food, he glared at me as if to say, “About time, woman!” OK, he’s fine.

4:15 p.m.

I’m going to make the best camp stove chili ever, if I can figure out how this camp stove works. Spouse’s inner Cub Scout to the rescue. The sautéed onions fill the camp’s air. The cumin, smoked paprika and garlic just verified that I am about to have the best chili in camp.

Camp chili
Camp chili

5:30 p.m.

No problem giving Mouser his insulin. I think he likes the tent. I mean the cottage.

5:45 p.m.

Red wine, crackers, gourmet olives and gherkins on the table and the chili is ready to serve. This made me think of one of my late mother-in-laws—my first mother-in-law. For about a month every summer, she reigned supreme over a family campout, far from any town or city. With her three kids, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends, that camp swarmed with teens, dogs, and hungry husbands. I don’t know how she did it. Those were fun times. But I never grew a deep love for cot-sleeping. Oh, gawd. The cot! It prostrates itself across the cottage floor like a bed of nails awaiting my night’s torture. More wine, please.

8:45 p.m.

The sunset photo-shoot was marginal. Too much haze. Damn China and its freaking pollution.

Hazy Sunset at San Simeon
Hazy Sunset at San Simeon

9 p.m.

Final trip to the public potty. I totally dread waking up cold, stiff and with a bloated bladder at midnight. But, that’s what the fantastic portable flushable loo is for.


4 a.m.

Survived the midnight stumble to the loo. Mouser slept on top of me most of the night. I forgot how allergic I am to pine trees, and the cottage is right beneath two. It’s really cold. Mouser will survive if I don’t give him his snack. I’m going to burrow further into my red and purple plaid sleeping bag.

5:30 a.m.

Time for Mouser’s insulin. He’s anxious because he gets fed too. Woot! Woot! for him. Anyway, I’m going to face the morning and get the most amazing sunrise photo ever. So long Spouse and Mouser, both of you so cosily tucked back into the sleeping bags–Mouser in mine.

5:35 a.m.

It’s fucking cold out here! But that fog creeping thru the canyon is kind of cool. Click. Click.

Early morning fog
Early morning fog

5:45 a.m.

Come on, Mr. Sun. Get your lazy ball of fire over that mountain peak. Click. Click.

5:50 a.m.

Crap! Fog everywhere. Pack it in, Lady. Off to the public loo. I hope Spouse did make that campfire coffee he kept talking about brewing. “I just wanna smell it in the open,” he said. Heck, I just wanna warm up my hands.

5:55 a.m.

Coffee grounds have boiled over. Does he not know how to percolate coffee any more? Oh well, it’s brown, and it’s hot. Give me some of that right now!

8 a.m.

Back home and the cat just looked at me like, “Yeah, you are nuts. What was it that we just did? Please explain?” Note to self: Set up camp tear-down boxes for next campout so no one gets bitchy.

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