This weekend I am doing my first ever solo camp out. I’m at Curt Gowdy State Park. It is close to home and usually full of camping families so there is a definite element of safety.
I made reservation for a fairly decent spot, SC-95. It has a direct view of the lake with other camp sites fairly close, but hidden from view by bushy hills. The only drawback to this spot is that is directly off the road so all of the F-150’s hauling their water and land toys over the gravel make for a less than serene experience. As it is my only con, I’m letting it slide. My campout will be for 3 nights and the final night I will be jumping over to the Hynd’s Lodge to see my friend get married.
So I drove up yesterday at 3 pm. I had packed up my car and just as I was pulling away from my house, the sky opened up and the waters all came down and brought the effing wind and just a touch of hail to keep it interesting…but nevertheless I persisted.
Curt Gowdy is about a 25 minute drive from Cheyenne. I could tell as soon as I got out-of-town (the land is almost perfectly flat for miles around outside of Cheyenne so you can easily see up to 50 miles in the distance) that the rain had not yet hit the park. I hauled balls over there and made it to my destination full of excitement and adventure and ready to CAMP.
Ok, firstly. The lake was unexpectedly empty. It was almost late fall empty. It was incredibly overcast, but no rain here yet so I was pumped to get started setting up Base Camp One. Tent duty is numero priority. I had previously been assured by my oldest son, Chase, and my husband, Clay, that I would be perfectly capable of putting this tent up alone. I would be just fine. It’s the easiest tent ever. YeahYeahYeah…if there is a way to complicate things, I WILL FIND IT. So I jumped out of my car and tossed the tent bag to the ground and rifled through its contents. I read the step 1 and step 2’s and I verified the parts and I put the long bendy sticks in the loop holes of the canvas and then I got to step 3 and its like “You and a friend/lover/distant relative/whomever stand at diagonal ends from each other and lift the tent and its limp poles up into and arch and then secure a tight tent with stakes.” Okay so I am 4′ 11″ and 1/2″. No matter how I tried to Jerry rig it, no matter how much I pleaded to God to help me get the fucking tent up, I could not do it. It was a two man tent. I did the only reasonable and helpful thing to do in moments of crisis: I cried. I stamped my foot, I whoa is me’d, and I had a right good tantrum for about 4 minutes. Then…and only then will a good idea come to me. This is my process.
I realized I needed help so I waited for the first unsuspecting person to drive or bike or hike past. Strangely it took a few minutes before another soul passed me by, which again is so odd because as I am writing this, every 20 seconds a human is passing me either on foot or boat or bike or whatever. So yeah finally a woman with her window down was driving slowly passed and made the mistake of smiling at me. I seized my moment. I called out “Excuse me could you help me!” and you could literally see the change in her face as I started calling out and wailing towards her vehicle. You could see the “oh fuck I should have just stared straight ahead! Why did I smile at this woman?!” cross her face, but I explained I needed assistance to just get my tent arches standing up and in the stupid silver rings. Thank god her husband was there because I don’t think she was going to help me lol.
Anyway it was also kind of embarrassing because as he was helping me he saw that I had been using a can of Bush’s baked beans to hammer my stakes into the ground. He seemed sort of friendly/annoyed when he asked me if I needed to use his hammer too. The wife meanwhile had driven off, I dont know why she didn’t just wait the 3 minutes it took, but like I said she was seriously annoyed about me needing help, but in all honesty, I could give a shit. It was about to rain and I had gotten assistance.
So not wanting to keep this reluctantly friendly dude any longer than necessary, I only ask him to help me do the arch thing. I decided I could handle the stakes and the rain cover on my own and off he walked into the sunset, presumably to find his wife.
Ok so now I’m on my own again and I have the main body formed, now I need to secure it to the ground. So sans hammer or mallet I tried the can of beans, rocks, logs, and shoes. Nothing could pound those crappy stakes into the ground. The suckers just kept bending. So just then the rain is here. I unload every item from my car into the tent, just to weigh it down. Originally I had no intentions of taking EVERYTHING out to save on the repacking, but no I needed to hold the tent down because Wyoming Weather. I have 2 coolers, 2 sleeping bags, a gym bag full of clothes, a bag of tech toys, and other essentials, holding down my tent. The storm comes, myself and my husky wait it out in the tent pretty comfortably, all things considered.
After the storm passes, maybe 30 minutes later, I take stock of the tent. My rain cover is hanging limply and I have an extra bendy pole that I don’t know what is for and it just looks…off, like limp and sloppy, but useable. I tried the stakes again but I couldn’t get them in so I started to use my heavy stuff and tie the tent to it…like I used my log pile as a weight for one stake tie and my 20 gallon water jug as another. One stake was tied around a heavy rock. So yeah, it was a mess, but I moved on to drinking beers anyway.
Throughout all of this my husband had been texting me to see how everything was going. He wasn’t able to join me because of work. I’m not gonna lie I was bummed, but I also thought the idea of camping alone was sort of cool.
So as my evening progresses, I go on a hike, I eat lunch, I read some, I start a fire. It’s starting to be about 7:30 and I decided I would try to get a buzz before bed because I’m worried that sleeping in the tent alone will be scary and I’ll freak out, so I proceed to down five 20 oz Budlight Clamatos. I have a nice fire going and I have decided I’m going to let it die down so that way once it is truly starting to get dark, around 9, I can head into the tent and maybe watch a movie until I fall asleep.
Trucks and cars have been intermittently driving past on the dirt road so I have sort of blocked out the noise at this point. I am seated with my back to oncoming traffic and facing my fire. All of a sudden I hear “Hey lady!” I turn around and its my husband! I didn’t realize I was sort of lonely until he showed up. That right there is the beauty of my husband. I don’t give him enough credit for being there. He made a deal with his boss so he could come camp with his wife for one night. He right away sets to fixing my tent. Turns out he just drives around with the necessary tent fixing equipment just all the time. He brought me Wendy’s and a fifth of Absolut…I asked why Absolut and he said, because they didn’t have Titos. Love him. (Titos is my JAM).
We proceeded to get nice and drunk. We hung out by the fire and kissed a lot. It was a perfect night. We woke up and we had coffee together and he half -assed a fishing line. We took Juno for a small morning hike and then he had to go.
I woke up with such joy in my heart for that moment. For that man. He went out of his way to drive 25 minutes out of town after a 14 hour work day, just to make sure I was set up right and spend some alone time with me. Also noteworthy. This is our first ever child free camp out. I didn’t even realize until Clay pointed it out.
It made me realize how much I love this man. I always hesitate to believe that he loves me, it’s literally the hardest thing to imagine and a total product of my childhood. I try to keep him and most others, at arm’s length and I feel like I am always waiting for him to realize what a total jerk he has married and get the hell out of there. But , no he never does. he is always there. He’s always my rock and my champion and I don’t know why I don’t recognize this on the day-to-day.
So now it is night 2 and it has been just Juno and myself all day. We have gone on 4 small walks and had a nap. I was reading book one of The Outlander series, but it just wasn’t holding my attention (no fault of the book, I just am not in a medevial frame of mind), so I switched to Lagoon.
Today the park is beautiful and sunny and just as packed as it should be. There is a kayak rental and a wake boarding rental set up and I had a lot of fun watching the families enjoy it. I didnt stand there like a weirdo or anything and watch them…I was walking my dog and stealthy like a weirdo watching them.
I have taken great pains as to not appear alone. I have changed my hair, my seating and my clothes three times today. I can’t change who I am.
Back home.now and had a great time. Looking forward to another campout soon!