The truth about glamping

oka huttopiaOKA PROVINCIAL PARK — I hate camping. It’s a thing with me.

Sometimes friends give me reasons that I should love camping and the undertone sometimes feels like, “oh, you hate nature,” or “oh, so you’re a princess.”

Truth is, I can spend all day out in the bush gathering dirt under my fingernails, getting sunburned and climbing the odd tree despite arthritic knees.

Truth is, I fail as a princess, what with my $25 haircut and my “screw you I’ll wear yoga pants shopping if I damn well please.”

Truth is, I’m 43 years old and I have the beginnings of arthritis. Truth is, I like comfort. Truth is, I work hard and I like to relax hard.

I do love cabins, though, so with a few midweek days off at the edge of summer, I compromised with a huttopia rental at Oka provincial park. Huttopias are neat little prospector tents on wooden platforms. The beds have quality, thicker-than-cots mattresses, in a tent-inside-a-tent, and are raised, so you won’t get soaked in a rainstorm. Trust me, I know.

The front half of the tent has a little wood-slat dining set and kitchen area with a fridge. A canvass overlay creates a sheltered porch, with a propane stove and just enough room to watch your campfire without getting soaked. You know, just in case there’s a storm.

oka provincial parkThe little plot has a picnic area with a firepit and a set of comfy chairs to put around the fire. Unless there’s a downpour. Because sometimes that happens.

We went “glamping” for one night. Our car was packed with food and bathing suits and toys and other gear I’m not even sure we used.

A boxload (but not, of course, in a box) of condiments had to be hauled piece by piece out to the picnic table while the burgers cooked over the fire. Then everything had to be hauled back inside and dishes carried to the dish-washing station 100 metres away. By the time all that work was done it was finally—at last!—time to enjoy the bonfire. One marshmallow later the rain broke through the umbrella of trees.

Thus began the precious one hour of relaxation I was to have throughout the camping experience—a precious hour before a nighttime of broken sleep and a morning scrambling to finish washing dishes and get packed up. We sat under the short awning and let the rain mostly drown out our voices. We watched frogs play hopscotch on the rocks in front of us and scared off—several times, so not very effectively, I guess—a raccoon who thought we might invite him over for leftovers. Trevor named all the animals (H names for the frogs, like Hubert and Humphrey, and Samuel for the raccoon who kept peeking around the corner of our tent and making Melani giggle).

The fire was hot enough that it burned smokily through the storm. It was loud and peaceful.

Popcorn in the rain? Certainly one of the highlights of my glamping experience.
Popcorn in the rain? Certainly one of the highlights of my glamping experience.

Will I go glamping again? I’ll try it one more time, because I love that my family loves it and being anywhere with them is better than being anywhere without, but honestly I’m a little offended at the price I have to pay to cook, wash dishes (a block away), make beds, set and clear a table, wash more dishes—that 100-metre hike uphill each time—just for the privilege of sleeping on a hard mattress a city block from the nearest toilet.

So, yeah, I’ll try it one more time, with a positive attitude, and in the meantime I’m going to make you this promise: the next time you tell me about your camping trip, I’m not going to say—even once—“but have you tried staying in a hotel?”

And maybe you can do the same for me.

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