Maybe the reason I’m so comfortable outside is because I know I can step into a hot shower at the end of the day and wash all the grime away. I am comforted knowing the washing machine is only a few steps away when I’ve gotten potting soil all over my favorite jeans or soaked my socks inside my boots lugging water to my mare’s stall.
I was kind of surprised to find recently that I am just not into camping. We took a trip to Jacks River near Cohutta about a six weeks ago with some friends. It was a beautiful weekend, and the days were just warm enough to be enjoyable. We went for a long hike and then collapsed back at camp, told stories and ate snacks around a crackling fire.
I found myself becoming anxious as the evening darkened and night came on, however. I started worrying about getting cold in the night (I despise being cold). I dreaded trekking to the restroom. Yes, there were restrooms; I wouldn’t have gone camping otherwise. I’m a pretty good sport, but I do draw the line.
My anxiety surprised me because I grew up camping all the time. My parents own a beautiful cabin in Ellijay, and they did a lot of the work on it themselves. They bought the property when I was about two years old with plans to build a vacation home, and we did things on a budget. We camped out in the back of our old F-150 every weekend so that they could oversee the progress as gravel went down for the driveway and the foundations for the house were laid.
I actually remember sitting on my “sassy seat,” which was clipped to a picnic table under a tarp awning where we ate. I couldn’t have been more than three years old then. We swam in the Cartecay River every day; by the time I was five, I could easily run out across the moss-slippery river rocks, a skill I didn’t consider all that unusual until I saw my New York cousins falling all over themselves when they tried it during a visit years later.
When I look back, I see my mom as a real trooper. She always kept our dwelling, whether it was our other house in the suburbs or our campsite in Ellijay, neat as a pin. I have always seen her as a true lady; always dressed fashionably, perfect hair and makeup and a sunny attitude to boot. Now I realize how difficult it must have been to go without running water each weekend as she watched a house take shape at an agonizingly slow pace.
Eventually, our close friends constructed what we now call a guest house nearby, and since they still lived in New York at the time, they let us use it on the weekends. What a luxury the bathroom, with its oversized skylight and real shower, was!
Although I don’t remember disliking the few years we spent in the back of that truck on the week-ends, I think the experience has left me “camped out.” I’ve spent more time outdoors than most people, and that’s more than enough for me.
I spoke to my brother about it recently, and it turns out he’s not big on camping anymore either. This boy used to disappear for hours with his dog to hike around the river and its tributaries; he was never indoors, but apparently, that was enough to hold him for the rest of his life.
Sometimes I think my parents feel a little bad for dragging us to Ellijay every weekend, but there’s no reason for them to regret any of that. I still adore the house and the river property. It’s something we plan to keep in the family always. Watching that cabin come together so slowly taught me never to give up on a dream and never to leave a project unfinished.
I love visiting at the cabin, but I am even more thrilled I don’t have to camp out anymore!
Elizabeth Crumbly is the general manager of the Calhoun Times. She can be reached at 706-629-2231 or Ecrumbly@calhountimes.com.