I just had the opportunity to spend just over two weeks on a camping vacation with my 5 boys, my husband and my dog. Camping at our house is a relative term. We far from “rough it”. We have a 15 passenger conversion van that hauls a 33ft travel trailer. The trailer duplicates all the amenities of our house, only smaller.
My childhood includes fond memories of actual camping. With a tent, in rain, no showers, bring your own toilet paper. A couple of these weekend camping trips involved canoes and one included horses and had me ending up in the emergency room. Coming home on crutches smelling like smoked meat and feeling like you slept on a bed of rocks (because you actually DID sleep on a bed of rocks) was all part of the enrichment of the outdoor experience. I actually loved it.
About 6 years ago I mentioned how much I enjoyed this to my husband. Frustrated with the amount of time they spend on computers and video games, I really thought our boys were missing out on the awesome experience of getting back to nature. I wanted them to go camping. With us. My husband looked at me, doe eyed, like I just explained quantum physics in Greek and then said “Going without my own bathroom is NOT my idea of a vacation.”.
Thus enters the RV.
A Recreational Vehicle is the “roughing it” equivalent as a gas grill is to a gourmet kitchen. Not exactly all the bells and whistles, but damnit, you can still camp like Bobby Flay. We have air conditioning, a gas stove, hot water, a shower, a toilet, mattresses, and a power converter for the Xbox. Like most vacations, you get to observe another side of your family that is rarely seen during the hubbub of the regular work week. Going back to nature brings out certain survival instincts.
My normally ready-to-nap-on-the-couch husband didn’t have a couch to nap on. We brought zero gravity chairs and he was quite content to spend an hour of his day on the chair with his laptop and then head to the pool for sun and beverages. Getting frustrated that the campground’s promised wifi signal wasn’t strong enough at our site he told me to go ahead to the pool and he would meet me there after he hits the coffee shop to check his email. I suggested just going to the front desk and inquiring why there was no signal. He assures me that he will figure it all out.
A couple of hours later my phone rings at the pool. He now is sitting at the Laundromat looking for a better signal because “this campground sucks”. I do my best to reassure him that it’s probably just a tech issue. In between applications of sunscreen and sips from my adult juice box I revisit my suggestion that maybe he should ask at the front desk where the best place to use his computer would be.
If I have learned nothing else from spending 20 years with a house full of men, it’s this. Not one of them will ask for directions. Sure, we have all heard the jokes about how a man will spend hours in a car and never stop and ask for directions, but apparently this also applies for toilet repair, flat tires, large construction projects, cooking without tuna and wifi signal searching. Asking for help or directions is some sort of instant revocation of the man card. Men. Must. Figure. It. Out. I don’t understand this, especially provided that my husband is what I would call a “schmoozer”. He can convince a kid to give him their candy, a cat to walk away from milk and easily procure some wifi from the front desk. JUST ASK!
Instead, my darling husband spent an entire day ….and I mean ENTIRE day…..strolling around the campground with a Samsung tablet trying to figure out the best spot for a signal. Picture the “Can you hear me now” guy; only instead of holding a phone and smiling he’s clicking buttons on a computer and uttering 4 letter words that start with F. By the time I came back from the pool, completely burnt and ready for my post juice box nap he looked like Jack Nicolson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Sweating, eyes bulging, falling just short of banging his head against the aluminum siding of the trailer and getting a call from Nurse Ratched, he informs me that the entire campground is devoid of any internet access. So I ask, “What did they say at the front desk?”.
Head hung low and shoulders slumped in defeat I hear a mumbled “I’m going there now. I just need a sandwich first.”. One sandwich and 30 minutes later my husband returns triumphant from the front desk. He informs me and the boys that we will need to rise with the sun the next morning because a “tech guy” is coming to our campsite. The campground felt so badly about his wifi-less day that they called in the reserves. The next morning someone from the campground technology staff knocked on our camper door and installed our own personal router.
Aaaahhhh……NOW we’re camping!