It all started when my husband went on a guy's camping trip in Colorado. He clearly had such a good time that he just had to recreate the magical experience for me and the kids. You know, bad ideas often come from good intentions.
Look at our innocent faces, oblivious of the hell we are about to experience.
We decided that our first ever camping trip in this beautiful country would be in Colorado. Because, go big or go home right? So we went back and forth on our trip date, for some reason we kept postponing it. This should have been the first sign that this will surely become a cluster fuck of a trip. But no, as usual, I fight my gut feeling because I'm desperate to prove that I am a natural earth mother who is in touch with her adventurous side and really wants to connect with nature. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I am in fact, a spoiled city diva who absolutely needs modern comforts for survival. Why do we do this? Why did I, in those moments, find it shameful to admit to my husband and the world that I am NOT cut out for "slumming" it in nature?
We packed hubbie's not so reliable but good for offroading SUV to the brim with camping gear and let me tell you, I truly thought we were overly prepared. I was overly optimistic of our packing list and kept arrogantly making not-so-funny jokes to the kids that we could probably survive for a month with just the things in our car. Boy was I mistaken. I remember telling Hamza that morning, do we really have to go? Will the car make it? In typical man fashion, he defended his car's honor and assured me it will make the trip with ease and comfort. Y'all, this car is old, it's an SUV but it's old. There is no space for a spare tire so it had to fit with all our gear in the trunk. This meant that we had to stack our luggage between the kids in the back seat. Those poor kids were smushed between bags, backpacks, tech gear and a pillow for hours on end.
We finally begin our long journey to Colorado Springs. Our plan was to rest for the night in Amarillo, TX and if you've ever been to Texas you know it takes about 12 hours to get to any Texas border, this state is HUGE. We get to the hotel that night and find out there are fires in Colorado. You know when you make a conscious decision to do something and then God sends you oodles and oodles of signs telling you not to do the thing, but your stubborn stupid self just keeps on keeping on? That's what we did. Fires? Hah, we laughed in the face of fires and got back to driving the next morning. We were getting excited about the shorter trip from Amarillo to Colorado Spring, just 5 hours? Bitch I can do that in my sleep. We finally reach our destination at around 3:30 in the afternoon, giving us plenty of time to find camping ground. Now let me tell you this, I spent the last 2 weeks telling my husband he needs to pre-determine our camping ground, book it if necessary, and download an offline map because you can never be too prepared. But you see, as organized as I am, my husband is the complete opposite, he chooses to live life on the edge, a place I'm totally not comfortable with. We drive around Co Springs and I slowly realize that my husband has no idea where we're going. We spend the next hour driving up and down i24 looking for the exit to what my husband describes as "the most beautiful place on earth". We went to the Gardens of the Gods, we went to Pike's Peak, we even went to Woodland Park but this place was nowhere to be found. Kids are already nagging in the back, all that luggage and gear keeps falling on my daughter and now it starts raining like I've never seen it rain before in my life. I'm not kidding, kids were screaming "I don't want to die" in the back seat. I quickly make a hotel reservation for the night because honestly I'm already over this shit.
Remember how I said God sends you a million little signs? I was still getting those, even in the comfort of a Hilton. Of course, I choose a Hilton with the most complicated floor layout and end up doing over 10,000 steps just going back and forth to the room, the laundry room and the indoor pool. You see, the laundry room ate my coins and so I couldn't get one of those single use Tides, so I had to walk back to the lobby to get one. My brain cells are already so tired that I forgot to ask for a Downy packet. I run back for one. Then as I reached the laundry room again I realize I no longer have enough quarters for the washing machine so I run back. You see the stupidity? I sometimes wonder how I ever graduated from a university.
The next morning we pack up again and get going. Remember, my husband is still insisting that the camp ground was in Colorado Springs. So we spend another hour looking for the "exit"; he treats this as though we were just going to the local grocery store and oops we missed the exit. This is not our state, I had never been there and Hamza has only visited once but somehow this man will reach deep into his memory and find the exit to what he claims is the most stunning campground I have ever been to. An hour in, I am starting to get real mad, the kids are whining and demanding we go back to Texas and then I could literally see the lightbulb go off over Hamza's head. He looks at me innocently and declares, "Oh! I remember, it wasn't here. The place is around 2 hours from here in the collegiate peaks". My eye starts twitching. My eye twitches when I get to a certain level of desperate. For the sake of living up to the earth mother image I'm convincing myself and my family of, I put on a smile and calm the kids down. Off we go to Twin Lakes, CO.
We finally reach this place and set up camp. I admit, the mountains are majestic and I can only imagine how beautiful they are in the winter, but I was underhwelmed with the rest of it. We set up our gear and put up our tent. Now what? Hamza and I are looking at each other as it suddenly dawned on us that we will have to entertain our kids in nature, for the next few days. I love spending time with my kids, but what the hell do we do in nature all day? There's no river to swim in, the "lake" is actually an ugly ass reservoir and the trees are too skinny to climb. Thankfully, Hamza packed RC cars and a bow and arrow so they got busy with those. We then took a nice hike which confirmed to me that I have truly become severely unfit and seriously need to get back in the gym and cut down on the calories.
Once we were back from our hike, I badly needed to pee. I tell Hamza to please unpack and set up the portable toilet chair and privacy tent. He says he never ended up buying the privacy tent. Say what? He packed a portable shower and a toilet seat but didn't bring a privacy tent. And I know what you're thinking, you're in the wild, plenty of space to roam around and find privacy. No dude, there were maybe a thousand other campers. This is Corona time, there is nothing else for people to do in life. Even with fires raging a few mountains down, thousands of people were camping. Anyway, I weigh my options and choose to not die from pee poison (is that a thing?). I stand in front of the car, and get Hamza and the kids to each stand on one side to provide cover. As I get down to pee, another car comes driving down the path right in front of me and I swear I lock eyes with the driver as he realizes the horror of what he is witnessing. My anxiety shoots through the roof and I end up peeing all over my legs and pants. I assure you this guy was traumatized because he chose to turn back around and look for another spot far away from us.
I wipe my legs and choose to ignore the fact that my dignity is slowly dying, and get busy making a fire. To me, when camping you must make a nice fire. You simply can't say you camped if you didn't make a fire. The smell of the wood burning is reminiscent of old teenage years spent camping and dune bashing in the desert for me. I finish making the fire and start prepping for S'mores when our camping neighbor comes running to us and reminds us that there is a statewide fire ban. Duh. How stupid can we possibly be? I wondered if it was the ellevation that was making us this dumb? We saw maybe 30 signs along the streets of Colorado warning campers of a fire ban. Well, now what do we do? Kids are already bored, I'm at my wits end and Hamza is finally starting to give up. We have our dinner and get in our tent only to have the absolute worst night of our lives. Remember how I thought we were so overly packed and ready? You guys, it was 45F at night, and we only brought thin blankets from home. We were wearing shorts and t-shirts and spent the night freezing our fucking asses off, too scared to run to the car for sweaters because you could literally hear wolves or coyotes howling all night. I honestly thought I would die from the cold. I live in Texas, I grew up in Dubai, I am NOT used to sleeping in 45F with only a thin blanket to warm me.
The next morning, Hamza and I make the quick and obvious decision to haul our cold and dirty asses back to Texas that very day. I was done, I was so done that I packed the entire camp site in 30 minutes and was in the car, with pee dried up on my pants, ready to go to a cushy hotel and get back home. Y'all, this trip was supposed to be at least a week, we were originally supposed to spend a few days in Colorado Springs and then drive to Wyoming or to the Grand Canyon, wherever the road took us. We couldn't even think straight anymore, we had to get out of there.
Within 3 hours of driving back to Amarillo, we slow down to make an exit to the gas station in Trinidad, CO and realized our car just shat itself. I mean, there is a loud crackling sound coming from the engine. I'm not kidding, I still have pee on my legs, my kids smell like wild animals, I'm emotionally scarred for life and now our car is giving up. Let me tell you something about small American towns on Saturday mornings. They have zero garages open. What they do have is sweet old men who will meet you in the middle of nowhere and spend a good 45 minutes diagnosing the sound. Sherman gave 2 options. It was either a simple fix and it can totally take us back to Houston, or it's a major engine issue and it will for sure break down in the middle of the interstate and leave us stranded. Fucking great, do you know how many hours of empty farmland lies between Trinidad, Colorado and Houston, Texas? Many! We couldn't find any car rental places open that day or the next since it was the weekend. So of course we decide to take our chances and drive the car all the way home. This meant we had to minimize our breaks and only stop when absolutely necessary for gas/bathroom breaks/food. This was not a fun family drive back home. This was an anxiety ridden slow ass drive that took 2 days and all of my patience. We once took all 12 family members, on a road trip, in a rental van, all the way to California; and that was a whole lot less stressful than this trip was. Miraculously, the car actually made it.
Suffice it to say, when I got home Sunday night, I took the longest and hottest shower a human could possibly take and then proceeded to spend the next 2 days in bed. FYI, we consciously made the decision to drive back home knowing that there was a hurricane about to hit our city. Thankfully, the hurricane ended up making landfall a good 150 miles to the east, but regardless, I was ready to meet a hurricane over spending 1 more night pretending to be a nature loving goddess. Those days are done. I had an open and honest conversation with my husband and admitted that I am not the earth goddess I pretended to be. I am in fact a sucker for creature comforts and will only consider camping again if it were in fact glamping.