I have travelled, I have lived in crowded hostels and cockroach infested apartments, I have driven the west coast of Australia and lived in a van for 3 weeks. All of these experiences led me to believe that a night of camping would be fantastic fun. Just me and Gerry, camping by the lake, drinking wine and gazing at the stars, I imagined that a ridiculously romantic night lay ahead.
On arriving at the spot where we were going to camp we noticed that it was a bit windier than we had expected. And as it was coming off the lake it was a pretty cold wind. The second I opened the car door a cloud of sand flies swarmed in, looking for any exposed flesh to feast on. I felt a quick shot of pain in my right hand as they found their target and I was itching instantly. I’ve heard that sand flies scratch ur skin and then pee on u, making them akin to hitler himself.
First things first, the tent had to be set up. This was Gerry’s first clue that I was not an experienced camper. The task of collecting firewood cemented the idea that perhaps I was more of a ‘dinner and a movie’ kind of girlfriend. I was very proud of myself for filling a little shopping bag with twigs, until I noticed that he was carrying half a tree….
That’s Gerry’s pile of sticks to the left, and that’s my little red bag on the right….
Once the sun went down the temperature dropped quickly. I put on all the layers I had brought and then I put on some of Gerry’s too. After that Gerry got started on making the fire while I got started on the wine 🙂
The main reason we chose that camping spot was because there is a fire pit there, most other places it’s prohibited to have a fire. With the fire roaring and wine flowing, I was suddenly loving camping. In no time at all we were toasty warm, laughing and drinking and looking up at the stars when a passing helicopter with a spotlight suddenly interrupted our star gazing. We thought nothing of it until it reappeared and began circling us, the spotlight shining on us. We began to panic, oh crap maybe it is illegal to have a fire here, oh god we’re going to be fined, maybe even arrested! We had no way of putting out the fire as it was getting quite large now. We hoped the helicopter would keep flying past but it began to hover and then came to land beside us on the beach.
Our panic only grew as the pilot climbed out and walked straight over to us. We whispered to each other to play dumb, say we had no idea about the fire ban, but just then the wine hit me and I doubted my acting skills. The pilot rushed over to us and asked if we were lost, we both starred up at him, wide eyed, terrified and half drunk. He asked us if we had activated a tracking beacon and our confused expressions told him that no, we were not who he was looking for. He jumped back in the search and rescue helicopter and took off again to find the lost hiker, leaving us with our fire intact and our nerves shot.
Eventually we ran out of fire wood so we climbed into our sleeping bags in the tent. Any concerns I had about being able to sleep in a tent had been drowned by the wine and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I awoke suddenly at 5am to be greeted by an absolutely horrific smell, leaving me with the only possible conclusion which was that a passing unbathed homeless man had noticed our tent, climbed inside and placed his used socks into my mouth. I got my torch out to look for the source, but as there were no wild animals or visible rotting carcasses in the tent I was at a loss as to what exactly it was that was climbing into my nostrils and disturbing my sleep with its putrid aroma. I lay there for a while in the dark, the smell swishing around in my nostrils, taunting me, smelling so strongly that I could taste it. I tried to concentrate on something else, I listened to the night outside, I listened to the lake and the sound of the water lapping gently on the stones and I…….oh crap now I need to pee.
I begged my bladder to reconsider, there was no way I was going out there by myself and I didn’t think Gerry would appreciate me waking him up to stand guard for murderers and possums while I peed beside our tent. I lay there in the dark feeling the smugness from my bladder as it informed me that I would not be getting any more sleep until I obeyed it.
I finally gave in and went to sit up, I was yet to move my right hand, the torch had been on my left side earlier. Putting pressure on my right hand felt strange, quite sore actually. I got the torch out again and found myself staring at what I can only describe as a sausage with 5 small sausages growing off of it. Apparently I have reactions to sandfly bites. Apparently my reaction is that my hand swells up like a sausage. My knuckles were now inverted, tiny dimples on my swollen sausage hand. The whole hand had pins and needles and felt like it was badly bruised.
Although it temporarily distracted me from my bladder full of wine, the fact that I still had to pee remained. With my one regular hand and my new sausage hand I pulled on my shoes and poked my head out of the tent. After checking the surrounding trees for murderers and possums I ventured out into the night. The wind was howling and the torch barely pierced the darkness, in my rush I set the roll of toilet paper down by my feet not taking into account the slight slope that I was standing on. If there was any doubt left in anyone’s mind about how good a camper it was quickly washed away like that poor roll of toilet paper….
The next time we woke up it was bright. My sausage hand had now grown from a sausage into a burger. We packed up and prepared to go back to normal life. Gerry with the new understanding that perhaps a nice dinner is probably a better idea for a date night, me with a burger hand and a new appreciation for toilets, electricity and antihistamines.