Random header image... Refresh for more!

Too Old to Camp

Right now, due to the kitchen renovation, making a cup of coffee means walking up and down two flights of stairs.  The cups and the sweetener are on the main floor because there is no place for them upstairs.  So we need to go down to grab those supplies and bring them up to where we set up the coffee pot in our room.  After we pour the coffee and add the sweetener, we need to bring the cup down two flights of stairs to the basement where we’re storing the cream.  Then there is the issue of stirring it and cleaning said spoon.

If I didn’t need the coffee so badly to get through the day, I would just curl up in a ball and give up.


A long time ago, I used to love camping.  I loved packing for camping.  I loved pitching a tent and the coziness of being in the sleeping bag with all the things I needed in a backpack beside me.  I loved cooking dinner over the fire and even cleaning up from buckets.  The whole thing felt like you had boiled down life to the essentials.

And now I despise camping.  Moving beyond my strong dislike for the outdoors (with the exception of beaches), I have an equally strong dislike for making easy tasks more difficult.  Take, for instance, the coffee.  In my house, I normally walk into the kitchen, brew a pot of coffee, pour myself a cup, add the cream and sugar, drink it, and clean up.  Easy.

Whereas camping is a bit like making coffee in my bathroom.  I need to obtain the water somewhere or carry it with me.  I need to make it in a contraption that is not as easy as my coffee pot or use instant coffee.  Forget real cream.  Cleaning up is a headache.

I get that if I actually liked nature that I would be trading the convenience of home life for something of equal value.  But I don’t like nature.  And this experience just reminds me why I dislike camping as much as I do.

I am too old to camp.  I am too old to see camping as an adventure.  I am too tired to get excited over the idea of problem-solving making coffee in the woods.  I am too set in my ways to get excited over the idea of using creativity to make dinner happen.

And I don’t know when the switch occurred.

A case in point, we keep kosher, which means that we have two sets of everything — two sets of dishes, two sets of cooking equipment, two sponges — everything.  When we first got married, I had very few “meat” items because I rarely cooked meat as a vegetarian.  If I made it at all, it was for other people at a dinner party.  So I had maybe a pot and a pan and a few plates and a knife.

And then I married a meat-eater, and suddenly I had to make these meat meals without the “meat” equipment.  Instead of buying more stuff, I treated it like a game.  How could I creatively cook this whole chicken without the necessary tools to cook said chicken?  And then I’d pat myself on the back and say, “Mel, you were so creative to make that coil out of foil instead of using a metal rack.  Good on you.”

But over the years, I have amassed an enormous amount of “meat” equipment; enough that I can cook meat meals as easily as dairy meals.  It doesn’t phase me to cook multiple meat dishes at the same time, and I have enough serving dishes to get dinner for 12 on the table with little fuss.

When did it change?  When did I go from thinking I was so clever and cool to make do with so little to feeling as if the task is undo-able if I don’t have the correct tools?


This whole week is slipping by me.  I apologize if it takes me a long time to respond to an email.  I’m sorry that I’m off my commenting game.

Anyway, I probably need more coffee to actually get my day started, and I have multiple flights of stairs to walk so I should probably get on that.


1 andy { 04.29.15 at 7:48 am }

Coffee is a deal breaker for me to. I need to have mine set up the night before so that I can simply flip a switch (or better yet, have it on a timer) so that by the time my eyes are less blurry all I have to do is add the milk and stir. Anything beyond that is outside of my ability in the morning. Kudos to you for surviving this challenge.

2 Catwoman73 { 04.29.15 at 8:21 am }

Being off your game is totally understandable when your house is in a state of disarray. I struggle to stay on top of things when my life isn’t in its normal state as well. No worries.

Personally, I still love to camp, though my husband merely tolerates it. Even though I still enjoy camping, he has certainly made me start to see the benefits of a nice hotel with a spa over the last few years. We have even considered buying (gasp!) a camper/RV so I can continue to indulge my love of nature while maintaining some of the comforts of home!!! Perhaps I’m slowly changing as well! Maybe it is the case that, as we age, we just have a lower tolerance for being inconvenienced in any way. Maybe it’s just a natural progression. After all, I don’t see many elderly people pitching tents. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I believe the size of the camper one owns is directly proportional to the age of the owner! Maybe I’ll do a little observational study when we are camping this August, and see if my theory is correct. 🙂

3 a { 04.29.15 at 8:43 am }

Today is the day to switch to iced coffee. You can even make your own if you must. But, brew up a pot, make it taste right (or not – can be done later), and stick it in the refrigerator. Then you go to one place when you need coffee and it’s right there waiting for you. For all the trouble you’re going to already, you might as well go out to get coffee.

I don’t camp. I never have. Why would I do that, when there are many places where I can sleep indoors with heating/cooling and comfort?

I can still make do, but I don’t feel like I should have to settle for making do. My husband and I argue about this sometimes. We have some fascia on our house that needs to be repaired/replaced. The estimate is $800. The alternative is to buy an extension ladder and the materials (~$200) and my husband can climb up and fix it himself. I say spend the $800, because the convenience is worth it. He say “I can’t spend that much, knowing how much it actually costs. Also, it’s all aluminum, so they’ll recycle it and get cash back while charging me $50 for disposal.”

4 nicoleandmaggie { 04.29.15 at 9:45 am }

My idea of camping includes a fully stocked cabin (with running water and electricity and appliances) in the woods. Sleeping in a tent has negative appeal!

5 Turia { 04.29.15 at 10:15 am }

We rent cottages instead of camping, which is not the same thing at all, but camping is supposed to be a ‘cheap’ holiday and when you don’t own a car the rental costs make it no longer cheap. Somehow we got from that to ‘let’s rent cottages instead’. I wish we were the type of people who camped, but we’re not.

6 Geochick { 04.29.15 at 10:57 am }

Kitchen remodeling is the worst. We went through it a few years ago and I feel your pain. Having to traipse up and down stairs for coffee sounds soooo annoying first thing in the morning.

7 deathstar { 04.29.15 at 11:16 am }

Mel, you sound like an old lady. A crabby old lady. Kids – get outta my jello tree kind of lady. This lack of good coffee is responsible – and getting older, of course. If I can’t get a few gulps of coffee in me in the morning while esconced in bed with my robe on in peace and quiet, woe to anyone who crosses my path. Your house is in disarray and will be that way for quite some time. Why don’t coffee houses deliver?

8 Kathy { 04.29.15 at 11:26 am }

Time to change the plan making coffee the number one consideration. Either have someone deliver the coffee to you or pile in the car and go to the coffee shop. If you don’t want to get dressed fully, hit the drive-thru. I personally do not function without coffee. As for camping, we did that in a trailer when the kids were small. It was fun. For the past 15 years we have rented cottages in a large family group. We all pitch in to make the dinners and kids all have a blast playing together.

9 Laurel Regan { 04.29.15 at 11:38 am }

Renovations are bad enough, but having to jump through hoops to get one’s coffee is just WRONG. If I lived closer I’d make morning coffee delivery to you a priority!

10 Kate { 04.29.15 at 12:04 pm }

My family has always camped. We started off in tents, then, as my parents got older, we switched to a pop up camper. Now, my husband and I combine our love of hiking + camping, and hike to our camp spot, about 6 miles up a mountain, where we set up hammocks to sleep in. We don’t do things the easy way ’round here!
I sympathize on the kitchen remodel, and the coffee chase though!

11 Valery Valentina { 04.29.15 at 2:07 pm }

Oh Mel, just hugs.

12 Working mom of 2 { 04.29.15 at 2:10 pm }

I’ve always been a high maintenance camper–need running water, bathroom, etc. haven’t camped in 9 yrs and now with kids I wonder if I’ll ever want to again.

I feel for you–about 6 yrs ago DH was renoing our master bath–upstairs–so for a few mo we had to go downstairs to pee/shower/do makeup (me) etc.

13 Karen (formerly Serenity) { 04.29.15 at 5:38 pm }

I was going to echo A’s suggestion of iced coffee as well.

If not, rent a microfridge and keep it in your room under the coffee pot. Cream, sugar, mugs, etc can be all stored in a microfridge.

Seriously, I feel your coffee pain. And I will be curious as to what you end up doing, coffee routine-wise, over the course of the renovation.

Also, I used to love to camp and backpack and do all sorts of adventurous things like that. Then, quite suddenly, it hurt. Sleeping on the ground hurts my hips and shoulders and I figured I am nearly 40 and can afford to rent a cabin or a house, why wouldn’t I do that?

Owen and Jeff love to camp, though, so I end up camping at least once a year.

14 Jaime { 04.29.15 at 6:53 pm }

I’m not a big fan of camping either, even though my family is considered “outdoorsy”. I don’t like bugs or dirt, I prefer to look at nature, not have it crawl into the sleeping bag with me. But it is worth all the hassle for those “omg get the camera!” moments. Plus it’s so awesome to get back home!

15 loribeth { 04.29.15 at 8:23 pm }

Camping was fun & adventurous when I was 14. I haven’t done it in years but I suspect — not so much at 54. :p I suppose one can put up with these inconveniences if you know there’s an end in sight. Of course the problem with renovations is you don’t always know when the end will be. I think Karen’s idea about getting a mini/bar fridge for your bedroom for the duration is a great idea.

16 Rebecca { 04.29.15 at 8:53 pm }

I like nature, and I don’t like camping any more, either. Talking with a friend of mine about it one time, she said, “Why on earth would I go on vacation in accommodations that are less nice than my house?? When I’m on vacation, I want to stay in a place that is nicer than my house!” I’m great at making hotel reservations, but cringe at the idea of having to pack for a weekend camping trip and all the work that comes with camping.

17 Katherine A { 04.30.15 at 8:42 am }

Ughhhh, that sounds awful! Coffee is essential in the morning. Hope the renovations go as quickly as possible. The mini-fridge seems like a good idea.

I tolerated camping when I was younger, although I used to run into a rather unique issue. My hair is extremely curly – tight, corkscrew spirals – very thick, and until I was 28, I wore it long/waist length. People used to act like I was being very silly when I’d get irritated that I couldn’t wash it for a couple of days, but it wasn’t like their straight hair. I couldn’t use a brush on mine, it had to be detangled under running water with conditioner or it got the most horrific knots. If I went for a couple days without being able to get it done, I literally would have to spend 2-3 hours under a shower going cold at home carefully getting all the tangles out. Ouch. Now that I keep my hair super-short, I could probably handle that aspect of camping better, but I’ve gotten older and achier and prefer to sleep in a real bed. My perfect day in nature is to have a lovely day at the beach/walking through the forest and then retire to a well appointed b&b, hotel room, or rented vacation house :).

18 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.30.15 at 2:44 pm }

On the other hand, you’re getting some exercise?

I think going the hard way and feeilng good about it is something that works better when we’re young than when we’re more, uh, seasoned.

Our travel planner said 20 years ago of our honeymoon, which was backpacking through Greece & Turkey, “Good thing you’re doing this now while you’re young.” I scoffed because I knew that I’d ALWAYS be able to stay in hostels, carry my stuff on my back, rotate 3 outfits for a month, climb to pensions with no elevators.

Now? I see she was right. That stuff is behind me.

19 earthandink { 04.30.15 at 4:09 pm }

I completely understand. One hundred percent. I’ve been doing one form of camping or another for awhile now and I’m ready to go back to normal life.

It’s funny, I’m a very strict vegetarian and I hate meat on my plates or cookware or fridge. I told my brother I want my home kosher in case I have close friends who are kosher and they won’t have to worry about eating at my home. And that I’ll get him a special plate and bowl silverware and knife and outdoor grill and college size fridge to keep his steak or burgers when he comes to visit.

20 Natalie { 05.01.15 at 10:08 pm }

I used to love camping, and I love to sit outside with my wine in the evening. Actually if I can’t be outside for part of the day I actually feel sad. But conversely, I don’t like sleeping on the ground or having to hike to a bathroom. So I’m kind of stuck. I loved the experience so much as a kid, I’d love to give that experience to my kid, but for the past few years we just always mange to be too busy.

21 Queenie { 05.03.15 at 10:00 pm }

There is a powdered milk called Peak, available on Amazon, which is actually not such a bad substitute for the real thing in coffee. Might save you a few steps. 🙂

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author