People can be divided into three groups: The Campers, The Glampers, and the “I Won’t Go Anywhere Without Hot Water, Flushable Toilets and Soft Beds.”
The Campers are an amazing bunch. My father-in-law Steve and his wife Jill are in that group. They pack their tent, their bikes, some water and some power bars and head off, sending us pictures of the Appalachian Trail, the Mason Dixon Line and Civil War historical sites from the road. They look so blissed out, relaxed and in love. Their missives to us are like siren songs from the natural world: gorgeous, live, oak trees and shade giving sentinels, weeping willows bending and dipping so gracefully, Spanish moss that makes me feel damp just to look at it, pine needles on the ground that we know smell of dirt forest floor, and lakes sparkling in the sunlight just begging you to take a dip.
“Wish you were here.”
The Glampers, God love them, are seen in super porny shots in magazines and travelogues — their pimped out Airstreams, yurts, and vintage VW vans saved and renovated in ways that would make hippies cringe, all glistening with barely restrained style and glamour. I see those pictures and I think that I would be impossibly beautiful if only I joined their numbers. Twinkly lights, soft beds, 600 thread count sheets, down filled duvets, well-appointed vintage barware… You can glamp anywhere — have nature, bring FABULOUSNESS! You can even glamp in Yellowstone. I feel like Glamping should come with a macrobiotic chef, or at least one who cooks almost exclusively from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks. It isn’t a trip, it’s a lifestyle. Glamping seems to me like the natural heir to those photographs of the super elite African Safaris, but without the British Colonialism or the exotic animals.
“Jeeves, Please fix me a gin and tonic.”
The “I can leave my blow dryer at home but goddamn it I MUST have hot running water and a real bed” types. Ok, that’s me. All I can say in my defense is that I was set up for my limitations as a child. My mother refused to camp, so my hunting and fishing father set up his tent in our backyard, and he and I “camped out” there. We built a fire, made campfire hot dogs and s’mores, told scary ghost stories, and then I climbed into my sleeping bag and he onto his cot by the flicker of a flashlight. This all took place 20 feet from the swimming pool and 35 feet from the house. I think he might have peed in the yard in the middle of the night but I DEFINITELY hightailed it into the bathroom in the house and had a hot shower in the morning. I was all of six years old. Why would I need to venture outside of my yard when everything I wanted was there?
When I was a young Navy wife, married to my first husband, I recall a camping trip somewhere deep in Maryland where a group of us stayed in “treehouses.” I was studying opera and getting ready to sing a song cycle with text by Sylvia Plath, so I spent the weekend drinking beer on ice, reading The Bell Jar and giving everyone a play-by-play account. I also took three showers a day down in the “wussy bathrooms.” I think that was the only time I was included in the Boys’ Camping Outings. Even my “cool wife” status couldn’t save me there.
As an adult, I live for road trips, shortcuts on winding backroads, the secret delight of swimming holes just begging me to strip and jump in. I love to go places I have never been and to see the constellations of stars at night without the light pollution of a big city. Wanderlust runs through me as strong as my desire for icy cold rosé.
But the closest to camping I want to come is if someone can take me to — I don’t know — Montana? Wyoming? Maybe Upstate NY? We’ll need to set up a big, vintage iron fluffy bed in the middle of a pretty field, put out some twinkly lights and a system where we can keep cocktails cold and make sure the bathroom with a toilet and outdoor shower are very close. I would love to sleep under the stars like that. Magical. If that can’t be arranged, well… you know you can always find me at the nearest luxury hotel known for its swimming pool.