Sunday, July 21, 2013

Glamping and Fibro are a Great Pair

I just returned from my first glamping experience.  My family and a wonderful group of friends just spent four days camping at a camp resort.  I grew up camping in the woods with the tents that had multiple pieces, the smelly outhouses, all meals were cooked over the fire or were PB&F (peanut butter and fluff).

I was also a Girl Scout for as long as they allow you to be one before becoming a Troop Leader.  I enjoyed those years of camping.  My troop leader was a hard core, outdoor enthusiast and taught her troop some serious outdoor survival skills.  To us, it was just whittling a stick for toasting marshmallows, but for her, it was teaching us how to use a jackknife and how to make a weapon, if needed.  Of course she didn't tell her 12 year old troop the hidden skills we were learning, but now that I'm older, I'm putting some pieces together.  She and her husband used most of their basement to stock up on canned goods and other supplies. I never understood why they needed so many soups, vegis and beans but I did enjoy learning about and being outdoors.

It's been almost 30 years since I've been camping, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  When friends invited us to join them camping, it brought back so many wonderful memories of collecting firewood, using our mess kits to eat, setting out the wash bins to clean everything after a meal and even building and cooking with a Dutch Oven.  It was basically a cardboard box covered in aluminum foil, inside and out.  Food cooked using the heat of the sun.  These are the images I had when I was packing and planning for this camping trip.

I took some time beforehand to research the camp ground we were going to and it looked great.  There were many activities for the kids, tent sites, and a place to swim.  We were also close enough to the ocean that we could spend time on the beach if we chose to.

I was a bit concerned with sleeping in a tent and possibly on the ground with my fibromyalgia.  I have an active trigger point in my right hip and when I roll over in my sleep, I am woken by a stabbing pain. Sometimes, my muscles freeze in the half rolled over position where the pain stopped me.  I have to do relaxation techniques, in the middle of the night to coax my muscles to release the tension and allow me to get comfortable again and sleep.  I also know how much work camping can be.  The set up when you get there, the constant prep, cook, fire tending and clean up for each meal.  The only time to sit still, from what I remember, was at night when everyone is sitting around the fire.  I wanted to try to camp again and I really didn't know if I'd be in great pain the whole time or I'd be able to tolerate moderate pain just enough to laugh a little and enjoy.

As soon as we pulled into the camp ground, I knew it wasn't the same camping I was use to.  The first thing I noticed, is that there were were no woods.  I wondered where you get your tinder and kindling and fuel for the fire.  We checked in and followed the map to our site.  We drove past multiple campsites that were just big enough for a tent, or pop-up, a small fire pit and a car.  When we got to our site, we noticed our friends were on one side of our site and another family, whom we didn't know, were on the other side.  Every site was so close, we could hear people breathing in their sleep, at night.  There were only logs to buy for the fire and if you wanted a fire, you needed a fire-starter log or lighter fluid to get it going.  Many campers never even had a fire.  You could go to the restaurant, at the camp ground, to eat or drive to one of the many other eateries down the street.  Everything used was disposable; paper plates, cups, plastic forks.  One of the days, we were there, friends cooked a great meal over the fire and they had to use a plastic fork to flip the steak tips.  No one thought to bring grilling utensils.  My Troop Leader would have flipped out!

Although, I'm a Mother Earth lover and I do what I can to try to conserve, recycle and created the smallest carbon footprint that I can....I must say, this Glamor Camping experience worked out very well for someone with chronic pain.  It was a low energy output kind of place and now that my kids are teens, I could send them off to do the things they enjoyed.  I took slow walks, I puttered around the site, I sat on the beach, did a few laps in the pool and had a great time building one fire.  Even the bathrooms were glamorous.  They were clean with flush toilets and hot showers.  Definitely not the 'ruffing it' camping that my parents brought me up with or my Girl Scout troop did.  

This was the easiest camping I've ever done.  I was able to enjoy and take things at a pace that worked for me.  Our friends even gave us an air mattress to borrow, which was a much better option than the gravel ground.  I had one day of high level pain that I moved through and the rest of vacation was moderate pain that was managed with the swimming and walks I took.

In warm weather, I'm really happy to say that Glamping is a very good fit for someone with chronic illness and pain.  And I feel compelled to apologize to Mrs I. for not going all out and surviving the wilderness.  I know that if I have to use the skills she taught me, my family and I will survive.  For now, I'll keep them in my back pocket and enjoy Glamor Camping.

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