Tag Archives: camping

The Bunkhouse

This past week, my sister and I drove to Idaho to pick up our other sister and cousin from the camp where they worked this summer. We intentionally made the entire trip flexible. However, we still needed a place to stay at night so once we decided on Mount Rushmore as a good stopping area, I got on my phone and found us a place to crash. We’re a bunch of students. Cheap = good. So I found us a bunkhouse where they provide little cabins with bunk beds and a shared shower house. Bring your own bedding. 

For the record, I did ask the others for their input. The bunkhouse looked fine online. I booked it and received an e-mail reminding me to bring my own bedding. 

Check-in supposedly ended at 9 pm. We planned to arrive by 8:30. I got a call at 7:30 from the manager informing me she was going home and that she’d text me the code to get into our cabin. Also, did I get the message that they did not provide bedding? (I did.)

We arrived in the dark. And by arrived I mean exited the freeway, drove for fifteen minutes on abandoned back country roads, and turned too early on the dimly lit road to the cabins. If you can call it a road. No obvious parking lot existed so even after finding the correct turn we drove on the grass to reach our cabin. 

The place was abandoned. Not another car to be seen. 

Then we entered the cabin. To quote my sister, “I did not need to check for bed bugs because I could already see the dead bugs all over the mattress.” 

Instead of a four bed bunkhouse like we expected, we got a bunk with two queen size mattresses. We did not mind sharing, but the website definitely promised four. And it wasn’t just sharing with one another. We apparently were supposed to share with an entire graveyard of moths, beetles, and spiders. 

So many spiders. I’m not afraid to kill an arachnid but even I found the spider guarding our cabin intimidating. He was easily the size of a quarter. 

Some (I won’t name names) vowed to sleep in the van. I protested that we paid for the cabin so by golly we should use it! Anyway, we were leaving early the next morning. A few hours wouldn’t hurt us. 

We then went to the shower house. At first glance, it at least appeared clean. Second glance revealed even more bugs than the cabin. Live crickets and dead beetles hung out in the sink. Spiders clung to the rafters. But what finally broke me were the moths. 

The moths lived in the toilets. 

Imagine doing your business and all of a sudden a moth comes up from between your legs. Or reaching for toilet paper and a moth flutters out with the paper. I screamed. My sisters screamed. My cousin probably screamed. 

Lest you think us heartless to our fellow campers, remember, there were no other guests. And the staff all left way early. 

I am not going to lie. We ran back to our cabin, grabbed our stuff, dodged the giant watch-spider, and drove like a bat out of hell. No destination needed. Just out.

The next place we stayed at had a hot tub and continental breakfast.

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Unpacking the Summer

At the end of my adventures in Idaho last summer, I wrote a blog post where I talked about finding a new side of myself. I, bookworm and indoor aficionado,  learned to sleep under the stars, hike for fun, and white water raft. Part of the appeal of going to Colorado this past summer was the idea of further developing this new side of myself. 

And in a way, it was. I camped. I hiked. I white water rafted. (It is a lot more fun without the raft of paranoid middle school girls.) 

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Yet looking back, I would not say this was a summer of discovery. Rather, it became something more precious: a summer of remembering. 

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Law school is stressful. It is a melting pot of emotions and nuances and feeling like a failure. I emerged war-torn and exhausted. Going to Colorado felt like a terrible idea. As the weeks leading up to my departure became days, I kept wondering if Young Life would really would miss me too much if I just…didn’t go? After all, they’d told me there were two legal interns. Maybe they didn’t need me?

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I knew better than to bail last minute, though, so I got on my plane, read 4 books, and started a truly amazing internship. What made it amazing? 

  • I had work that mattered and that I loved. 
  • I worked with incredible people who made me feel loved. 
  • I lived with 8, wonderful, sometimes crazy women who loved me and took the time to let me know it. 
  • I participated in an internship program that provided mentors, speakers, and a small group that all poured into me and left me feeling…you got it, loved
  • Finally, I got hour after luxurious hour to read and think and be alone, to truly love myself. 

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The theme you should notice is that I was spoiled this summer. I was spoiled because people treated me like someone remarkable, someone smarter and funnier and more pulled together than I ever felt. They made sure to invite me to all their activities and never took offense when I declined to instead stay home and read. I always felt included but never pressured. And considering how many times I turned them down to read, that is saying something. 

Yet while I felt beloved for my reading and bug-killing abilities, I also felt the love did not stem from my personal attributes. I was surrounded by God-loving people whose love for each other stemmed from that love for God. Certain personalities might mix better and certain skills be more praise worthy, but at the end of the day, those things mattered less than the fact that each intern represented someone loved by God and thus worthy of love.

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I was spoiled this summer because I felt unconditionally loved. I was spoiled because I got to do work that interested and excited me. I was spoiled because I got to live in the incredibly beautiful mountains with no humidity. 

I called this a summer of remembering. Why? Because it was a summer of remembering that my worth is not in what I do, or where I live, or what grades I get. It was a summer of remembering who I am when not stressed, not busy, and not networking. A summer of just being…me. Was it hard sometimes? Oh, you bet. But for all that, it was a summer beyond my expectations. 

The thing I want to take away, the thing I need to take away, is that this path wasn’t the most natural, the most prestigious, or even the most sensible. But in the end, it was the most fulfilling. God knew what He was doing even when (especially when) I doubted the most. 

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(And because I couldn’t find the right place for it in this post, extra grateful shout-out to my awesome fellow legal intern, John, who now knows a lot more about Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, public sector labor law unions, and agency deference than he ever could have wanted, but who always let me interrupt him and patiently listened while I rambled away. Thank you.)


Never Pee Alone

At this point last week, I was wandering around a campground hoping someone would eventually notice me missing and come find me. 

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For the first, and last, weekend of the summer, all 14 of us interns were in town. We decided to then all leave town and go camping in Buena Vista, Colorado. 

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As those who know me well, or not so well, know, I’m not a big camper. But I did spend all of last summer as a camp counselor in a wilderness camp, so I thought, how hard can it be? I felt particularly scornful of the mattress pads and tents. I was a real mountain woman! I did not need such luxuries! (Though I’d take ’em!) 

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Sunday morning I woke up and needed to do my business. I started walking away from the campsite to find a convenient bush…and kept walking…and walking…and eventually it dawned on me that I had no clue where I was. 

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I listened for the sounds of my somewhat loud compatriots but could not hear them. I looked for familiar landmarks but suddenly felt unsure. Was the house on the hill behind us? Or did we drive pass it when entering the campsite? And where had that river come from?

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I considered my options carefully. I could follow the river but, as there was definitely no river by our campground, this would get me nowhere. I could sit in one place and wait for someone to find me. However, I was not confident they had even noticed I was gone yet, or would think to walk this far out in search of me. Further, I was not dressed for the heat and already felt myself sunburning. 

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Worse, the only thing on my feet were cheap, Wal Greens flip flops. Every rock and thorn punctured them and went straight into my foot. No matter how judiciously I avoided the cacti, they somehow found me. 

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After wandering for what felt like days but in reality was only 30 minutes, I realized that if I could find the road that looped around the whole campgrounds, I could find our specific campsite. So I shoved my way through the brush until I located someone else’s campsite, and from there the road. I started walking on it until I heard distant shouting. Up on the largest rock they could find stood three of my fellow interns shouting my name. 

Apparently, they were the 4th group sent out in search of me. 

We made it back just in time for breakfast! 

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Moral of the story? Always take a buddy when you have to pee.