Weekend Wanderer: I’m Not Sure Why, but I Agreed to Go Camping. Can I Fit a Bathtub into My SUV?


My camping experience is limited and questionable. Is it really camping when you’re in a roofed cabin at Girl Scout camp? Or in a used, pop-up camper with your parents and siblings in 1980? Shouldn’t a tent be involved somewhere?

If you’re saying, “Yes, yes. A tent should be involved if you’re really camping,” then be assured I’m about to meet that standard.

And also that you’re probably never going to like me.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I agreed to go camping.

My husband is an outdoorsman. He wasn’t really an outdoorsman when we met. He became an outdoorsman over time – in much the same way Darth Vader started out good, but then turned to the Dark Side.

Our camping adventure is a weekend gathering of outdoorsmen on the grounds of a brewery in the Catskills of New York. We will sleep in a tent. We will use portable toilets. We will not shower.

There are so many things to despair of. As a rule, I don’t use portable toilets unless it’s a dire emergency. I have run half marathons with my morning tea pressing on my bladder for all 13 miles because that doesn’t meet my standard for a dire emergency.

And no showering. Do I even need to explain what’s wrong with that?

I guess I should be happy our tent has a floor. I mean, I always thought flooring was in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But lovers of the outdoors are not regular people. Floors are 100 percent optional.

What do I even pack? Should I bring my eyebrow brush, or is there a spa with waxing services? What color nail polish is best for tent camping? What’s the Wi-Fi password?

Will I be able to catch Good Morning America? Can I UberEATS my Starbucks? And how many times, exactly, can I cry at the portable toilets before the entire campground wants to smother me with the floor of my tent?

What does a novice camper wear? When I Googled that question, I found something called Trekkie North Jogger Pants at the King of Prussia REI. So clearly other sci-fi fans have gone camping. That’s pretty encouraging.

I also found this list of camping supplies in Vogue. It includes a leopard-print duffel bag, Kim Kardashian boxers, and $1914 worth of other clothing and accessories – if I skip the bathing suit and practical stuff like a sleeping bag.

Wisely, my husband doesn’t trust me to pack the practical stuff. I’d get stymied the moment I couldn’t fit my bathtub into the back of our SUV.

Why did I even agree to this? The last time my husband attended this event, I went to London. That deal was much more my speed – my hotel room didn’t just have a bathroom. It had a bathroom with a heated floor.

Maybe I thought about Dirty Dancing, and how that was set in the Catskills, and thought I’d find a Johnny Castle that would teach me to dance.

Or maybe I was swayed by this article in The Washington Post. After the past year, we have all earned a good time. I’ve hung with these outdoorsmen before. It most definitely was a good time, and we weren’t even on the grounds of a brewery.

Besides, a consumer behaviorist cited in the article says that people feel like they’re having fun when they leave behind the everyday.

Well, I can’t think of anything more left behind than my shower and toilet.

The behaviorist also says situations that are separated from your life by time – like a weekend – or space contributes to that sense of fun. I will most definitely be beyond the confines of my life in both categories. So far beyond there’s no plumbing.

The article’s author says to view this summer as a time to try something different and to really identify what should be a part of our daily lives. Although I’m already prissy enough to want soap and George Stephanopoulos in my daily life, I’m willing to try sleeping in a tent.

Wait. Have we established whether anyone is teaching me to dance? If so, then yes. I’m willing to sleep in a tent.

In researching how one, exactly, camps, I came across the website Travel Pulse and their suggestions for camping in the United States. One location they recommend is the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I camped in the Outer Banks. In that used, pop-up camper in 1980. It did not make me an outdoorsman.

Maybe New York will have better luck.