Ahhh, spring! That time of the year when a young man’s fancy turns to love. And perhaps a young woman’s fancy turns to the outdoors! Hiking, gardening, bicycling, hiding in the bushes and drenching passing children with the garden hose – there’s nothing like a little recreation under the sun. One of my favorite outdoor pastimes is camping.
Let me be clear – I don’t mean the kind of camping where you kill small vermin for food and sleep on piles of matted brush. Nor do I mean the kind of camping where you pitch a tent outside your hotel so you can get room service and plug in your combination hair dryer and foot massager. I like to strike a happy medium. You can enjoy the outdoors and feel a sense of oneness with nature without being propositioned by any bears who think you are one of their own.
Now, when civilization is a decent distance away and a lady has limited comforts at her disposal, this doesn’t mean she has lost all interest in ladyhood. We still want to enjoy the benefits of being female while we are roughing it, do we not? Thus, I give you a few helpful tips about how to maintain while you are cavorting amongst the forest creatures with nary a remote control or tube of mascara in sight.
1) Stay Healthy
Just because you are out in the wild doesn’t mean your diet has to suffer. Of course, if you have a cooler at your disposal, you have the wide world of nutrition available to you. If you don’t have a cooler, dried things are your friends. Choose dried fruit that isn’t coated in sugar – apricots are my favorite. They aren’t very low calorie, but they will certainly help you poop, which is important. Another thing that might come in handy if you consume animal flesh is beef jerky. You will probably be sweating a lot if the weather is warm, so jerky will replace the salt lost from your system, as well as keep your iron levels boosted. You’ll need plenty of carbs to give you energy for hiking, rock climbing, or just chasing your kids around the campsite, so pack some whole grain crackers and peanut butter.
If you have a bit more packing room, invest in a camp stove. They look like this:
They are exceedingly easy to use. Most of them require only Sterno and a match. Light the flame underneath, and place tinfoil or cookware on top to heat whatever you are eating. This can be invaluable if you wish to consume soup, or want to heat up some beans. (The classic camping food!) No matter what you eat, though, remember this: water is key. Totally key. Drink it. Always. In large quantities.
2) Wear Sunscreen
The good Lord gave you skin. Don’t fucking ruin it.
If tanning is your jam, I’m not here to preach to you about how much irreversible, disgusting damage you are doing to your precious epidermis with it. That’s for you to find out when your entire face sloughs right off at the age of 50. Right now, let’s focus on the outdoorsy problems. Such as the relentless DayMoon, also known as the sun. I happen to be a caliber of pasty rarely found outside the Mariana Trench. I work hard to keep it that way. When I go camping, I know that I am likely to be in the sun at some point, possibly even for a long stretch of time. Not that it matters one way or the other, because I get burnt taking the trash out. So what do I do? I pack me some motherfuckin’ sunscreen.
I like Banana Boat because they make it all the way up to SPF 100 and it has that nostalgic smell to it, but Neutrogena makes the same stuff in a less hilarious bottle. Smear as much of it on as you can possibly stand. I know it’s greasy. I know you hate it. You’re gonna hate cancer a lot more, so suck it up like a big girl. Now that you’re drenched in it, wait at least 30 minutes for it to soak in. Read a book. Take a nice big dump. (Thanks, apricots!) And when 30 minutes have passed, you are cleared to enjoy some sun! Just don’t forget to reapply every couple of hours, or immediately after going swimming. Don’t forget, the stuff does wash off!
Let’s have a quick episode of What Not To Do, shall we? In high school, I went on a service trip with my youth group to a Lakota reservation in South Dakota. It was July, and I don’t know if you’re aware, but shade is actually illegal in South Dakota. My friends and I were on the roof of a building, doing some work, and I had applied sunscreen vigorously that morning. However, I had forgotten that we had been playing in the hose earlier to cool off, and I was now protected by nothing further than a prayer. That prayer didn’t go very far, because I procured a sunburn that actually went beyond red. It was a vivid shade of purple. I wasn’t feeling so well, no doubt due to a case of sun poisoning, so I decided to go sit in the shade. I looked down at my shoulder and noticed that it had a weird funky texture, akin to a basketball’s surface. I put my hand on my shoulder and proceeded to (stop reading now if you just ate) WIPE the entire top three layers of my skin off in one big, translucent sheet of slime and blood and sadness. If that is not incentive to wear your sunscreen, there really is no help for you now.
3) Consider the Environment
We all know the basics of this one. Don’t stuff your empty beef jerky package down an innocent groundhog’s throat. Don’t throw anything into the fire that you would throw in your recycling bin – this includes plastic or glass bottles.
But say your family camping trip has fallen at a very unfortunate time of the month for you. First of all, this may sound like a huge pain in the dick, but it’s actually not that bad. True, your cleanup facilities may not be what they are at home. Simple – bring a packet of baby wipes. They are basically fashioned for the specific purpose of going up in your privates, and they do wonders for smell and mess. The problem is that most babywipes do not decompose, not for way longer than you or I will be alive to witness. So don’t throw them on the ground or into a port-o-john when you’re done; it’s no different than littering. Another thing you should consider is tampon disposal. If you are using plastic tampon applicators, again, they shouldn’t go on the ground. Just this once, invest in some biodegradable tampons!
Then you will still feel completely gross if you dig a hole and bury your used tampon in it, but the cotton fibers will break down completely after a while, and the earth will thank you for it.
4) Light It Up
Having a light source can be a literal lifesaver on a camping trip, especially if someone gets sick or injured at night, and a campfire won’t always cut it. (After all, you should NEVER leave a fire burning after everyone has gone to bed.) Bring some cute little battery-operated or solar-powered lanterns with you if you have the means. Like these!
You stick them right in the ground like stakes, and they soak up sun during the day and glow beautifully at night. If you don’t have the space for real lanterns, just be sure to bring a flashlight. If you have kids coming along, pack a small flashlight for each child. That way they won’t have to wake you up to escort them if they need to take a pee during the night.
5) Learn How to Pee
If you are at a real campsite, the kind without port-o-johns, you may be wondering how you’re going to void your bowels while you are enjoying your break from civilization. Peeing is easy, really. If you’ve never popped a squat before, here’s how a lady does it.
First, pick a spot far enough from camp that no one has to worry about walking around in your urine. Make sure you aren’t near any poison ivy or thornbushes. If you are wearing shorts, this is easy. Simply pull them down to your knees and squat low to the ground. With one hand, grasp the shorts right in the middle and hold them up and away from the stream. If you are wearing pants, you’ll need to keep your legs spread as wide as possible so that the spray doesn’t hit either leg. But don’t worry; if you are squatted low enough, no pee should run down your leg into your jeans. Then the question is what to wipe with. I would honestly stay away from wiping with plants. Even if they aren’t poisonous, you are probably wiping with the pee and detritus of a thousand other organisms, and also risking a run-in with insects. If that doesn’t bother you, wipe away. If it does bother you, you know what? Just go ahead and drip-dry for a minute, then pull your pants back up. You might get a little something in your panties, but who cares? You’re camping, not going on a blind date with Chad Michael Murray. Who cares if you’re not absolutely fresh? In any case, no one would shame you if you brought toilet paper on your camping trip.
5) Stay Sexy (But Not Too Sexy)
If you feel the need to, please do bring deodorant with you. Do bring makeup if you have the burning desire. Do bring clean underwear. But don’t, DON’T try to shave. Using shaving cream or Nair will get the chemicals all up in the environment, and dry shaving – well, I’ve done it. And I survived. But it weren’t pretty. And by that I mean I had angry red welts for days. Not sexy at all. And know this, my child: You will not be having any sex on this trip anyway.
If you are bringing kids, you are obviously not having sex. But don’t be fooled just because you left them at home with your mom. You and your husband will have a great time. You will marvel at the beauty of nature surrounding you. You will experience fun and adventure the way you haven’t experienced it in years. Your relationship will strengthen with every step you take. But there will be absolutely zero boning, and I’ll tell you why.
Camping sex is the absolute worst. First of all, you obviously forgot to bring lube with you or didn’t have room to pack it, so things are dry as a bone. You are lying on the freezing, rocky ground with naught between you and Mother Earth but a thermal sleeping bag, or an air mattress if you’re lucky. Every tiny pebble underneath you is digging right into your spine. You are cold, yet still smelly from the day’s sweating. There is nowhere to clean up afterwards, short of squatting over a basin in the dark, trying not to leak all over your possessions. It is not worth it. I don’t recommend attempting it.
And hey, look at it this way: when you get home, the two of you will both shower, and you’ll come out of the bathroom and see each other, radiant in the splendor of your newfound cleanliness, and you will embrace each other passionately amid the ivory sheets of your bed, gazing deeply into one another’s hungry eyes, and you will promptly fall asleep because you haven’t been this tired since before the kids were born. But in the morning, he’ll totally give you the D.