I brought my girlfriend, Ashley, on her very first camping trip this last weekend. We have been attempting to make this plan for about a year now, and it just has not happened due to our schedules being so conflicting and her being kind of a pansy. We finally figured out a time for us to make it to the outdoors and get a night of camping in this last weekend.
Ashley went down to Rolla, MO a great St. Patrick’s day location for a couple nights of heavy drinking and fun with her friend Megan, while I patrolled the streets of St. Louis. I already know some of you might be thinking why would I let her go down alone to a college town to drink and party? Because the guy/girl ratio there is 70/30, so the guys have absolutely zero game with women. So, I already knew there was a possibility she might flake and not want to camp due to the raging hangover that might ensue.
I arrived in the sultry town of Rolla, MO, about an hour and a half away from STL and met up with my girlfriend and a few of her friends at a Waffle House. The Waffle House, per usual was a classy establishment with puke only encrusted on the corners of the building, where the mop doesn’t reach very well. Ashley was not feeling very well, which was a bonus for me because I got a second breakfast for free. So, I smashed her breakfast while she went and threw up with her friend Megan in the bathroom. Ashley came back out of the bathroom feeling rejuvenated and ready to conquer a trail and her first camp.
I took Ashley to a favorite place of mine along the Ozark Trail, Curtois Section. It isn’t exactly a designated campsite, but it is an easy clean that harms exactly zero habitation. The site isn’t the most private as there is road access to this part of the trail which makes for annoyances with random people coming by. There is a high bluff on one side of the creek and a beach on the other. The campsite is set at a split in the Curtois Creek as it rolls lazily into the split it then speeds up around the corners, which makes for a peaceful water rush as you are going to sleep. We made camp quickly and I showed Ashley a few things about setting up. I didn’t even have to show Ashley how to set up the tent as She saw what I was doing and immediately picked it up. I was quite proud because while using the 10-12 foot poles for the tent I perfectly penetrated the diagonal grommet to give my tent the proper frame. Ashley did not exactly get the innuendo as I gloated over my great aim. After camp was set, it was time to go for a little day hike.
Before we came, Ashley told me she forgot her hiking boots in her friend Megan’s car, so while on duty I swung by her friends house and grabbed them with the help of Megan’s parents. But, of course I forgot to grab them out of my fellow officer’s car that night and came bootless to our excursion. We then picked up a pair of cheap comfy sneakers for Ashley to wear during our short hike. There was an easy creek crossing to get to the other side of the ozark trail, which Ashley was not exactly pumped for. The water was probably about a foot and a half deep at its deepest, but Ashley was not about that life. I eventually coaxed her across the creek, and we began our hike. Ashley still wasn’t feeling the best from her last couple days, so I set an easy pace and allowed her to lead. We only hiked about 2.25 miles but that was enough for her as we turned around rather quickly.
Upon returning I set up for the first time the Fox Outfitters Hammock my brother got me. The hammock was awesome even though due to my newness to the whole, “Hammock scene” I kind of looked like an idiot. I set it up too low about 3 times, so as soon as I got in my ass hit the ground. I basically looked like a Nicki Minaj concert out there. Ashley and I sat in the hammock for a good bit and just relaxed. Until, some random family decided to come and start fishing about 40 feet from our tent and backpacks. Ashley didn’t see how this was a very big deal. But, I was pretty pissed that some family decided to bring their cooler, chairs and 4 kids right next to our camp. So, I walked back to our camp as to keep watch over our domain.
Ashley and I began to get hungry pretty quickly as usually happens when you get to the outdoors. I told her to sit there and take in the beauty of this place for at least another thirty minutes, then I would make dinner. Ashley, incessantly relaxed in the tent and managed to smuggle a box of cheese-its in there with her. Of course we forgot our books, and just about every activity I could think of. Luckily I had a deck of cards, so I introduced Ashley to the game, War, before we ate dinner.
I grilled up some hot dogs on my pocket stove, which might be the coolest thing ever. The hot dogs were done by the time Ashley got back from her 3,478th bathroom trip of the day. We then relaxed in the tent playing few more card games, before without even noticing both of us fell asleep…at 7PM.
We woke up at around 10 and we were cold as hell. The temperature must have dipped to the 40s after the sun went down and we were frigid. We went and grabbed the extra blanket out of my car up the trail a little bit, with Ashley scared of just about every sound imaginable. Ashley snatched the headlamp off my head real quick and shined it on every rustle of the leaves. We got our comforter and attempted to go back to sleep, but not before we heard an incredibly loud splash, in the creek a few feet from our tent. Ashley’s head immediately went to an Alligator, which I assured her were not here (She watches too much Naked and Afraid). A few sounds continued throughout the night putting me on hyper vigilance mode because Ashley would not allow me to sleep through them. I assured Ashley that there hasn’t been a bear sighting here for at least a week and we were fine, which really pissed her off. But, the next thing I knew it was the morning and she had managed to go back to sleep.
We woke up the next morning and broke camp. Ashley wowed me and managed to actually contribute a ton on the breaking down of camp.
I don’t know if Ashley really enjoyed her first camping experience, but I loved showing her a little bit of what makes me tick and why I love being in beautiful places so much. I’m hoping to take her on an actual backpacking trip soon, but we will see how long that takes to happen. If anyone wants details on where we went, feel free to contact me.