Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Adventures in Glamping

I am not much of a camper.

I have tried - lord, how I've tried - to be a girl who can rough it. I have suffered in silence (and out loud) during attempts to be outdoorsy. But when it comes to sleeping and getting clean, I have standards that do not come easily to the great outdoors.

To begin with, I need a mattress and the right pillow. The wrong pillow is every pillow on the face of the earth except the one that I have deemed "the right pillow". This pillow can be different every week, but if it is not the right one, it is definitely wrong. The mattress cannot be filled with air nor water nor cotton batting. I can handle foam mattresses in a pinch, but for the most part I need a pretty firm, but not too firm mind you, mattress. And if you slip a pea under it so help me I will come and find you and stick your hand in a glass of water while you sleep. (I think that's the sort of thing you do to seek retribution when you are camping.) And I need actual bedding because sleeping bags awaken all of my claustrophobic anxieties at once. Of course, tents don't really help in that department either, but the sleeping bag is a deal breaker. I also need a real shower. And shampoo. Hot water would be fabulous but I can proudly tell you that I have done without in the past, and lived to tell the tale.

Cold water showers. That, my friends, is as rough as it's gonna get.

In traveling with the roller derby team, I have adapted to some rather unconventional accommodations, and have no problem with what I like to call "the high capacity sleeping arrangement" which involves someone sleeping in every square foot of space, 4 people to a bed, minimal bathing, and sharing one toilet with anywhere from 12 to 22 people - if you even get to the toilet, which can - under the best of circumstances - be a bit of a crap shoot.

No pun intended. We're talking about actual crap.

All of this is to illustrate that I am aware of my limitations, and have been able to accept some pretty tight quarters. So for this summer, when my aunt invited us to stay in the Barn (the barn that previously housed my horses, and more recently the contents of several attics) I was all about it.

The Barn (capital B)

Freshly painted and cute as can be, I was very excited to have a quiet place for the kids and I to settle in for the duration. And featured prominently was a desk for my writing, and a chair I had never seen before.

"Ice Cream Parlor chair circa 1930 from 
Aunt Betty and Uncle Tom McAvoy's 
drug store/ice cream parlor Waterbury CT. 
Aunt Betty was Grandma Cronin's sister
Written by someone in black sharpie. Because dammit, that chair has a blog of it's own to write.

The Barn has a bed - with a mattress, mind you - windows with screens, and a full bathroom just a short walk across the lawn.

So cute and cozy!

A beautiful view, what's not to love?

When we arrived last month my aunt greeted us joyfully, showed us to our new digs, and handed me "Glamping With Mary Jane", encouraging me to familiarize myself with this hot new trend. Then she bid us goodnight and retired to the main house, leaving the door unlocked in case we needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Sam scoffed at the very notion, marched outside, turned his back to the yard and peed in the bushes. He realized as he was finishing up that he was in full view of the neighbors, who had recently cut down some trees on our side of the property line in order to share our view. So Sam smiled and waved and buttoned up. He is neighborly like that.

I didn't really think of our accommodations as "glamping" at first. This was just sleeping in a cottage, and visiting the main house to use the plumbing. The summer kitchen (as I like to call it, mostly because it sounds better than "what the fuck is this?") is located in - and just outside of - the basement, and is probably the least glam part of our glamping scenario. It is also probably a hazard of at least 3 different varieties, but that is neither here nor there. Let's call it a work in progress. We have a small convection toaster oven, a hot plate, a large table, and then outside, the latest addition to the kitchen.

Our piece de resistance:
 a sink - with faucet! - connected to the hose.
Same sweet ass view as the barn. 
Al fresco dish washing is where it's at.
I can feel your jealousy right now.

The best part about that sink, if you ask me, is that my cousin found it on the side of the road. That's right - a perfectly good cast iron sink - an antique! - just lying there on the roadside. So naturally (because that is what one does when one comes across a perfectly good sink on the side of the road) my cousin brought that sink home, and after using it as a step stool for a few years it has now been repainted and assumed it's place of honor outside on the back step. Previously we were washing dishes in the bathroom, so you can imagine how giddy I was to have a real kitchen sink just outside the door. This was glamping, baby!

I was still on a glamping high when my aunt's neighbor walked over and saw what we had going on. A look of pity flashed across her face as I stood there in the doorway, braless and unshowered, wearing nothing but a man's undershirt and a pair of cutoffs, with muddy feet, washing dishes in a sink attached to the garden hose. It was at that very moment, as I rushed to cross my arms, covering my untethered state, that the wastebasket I had carefully placed under the drain to catch the water (plumbing? What plumbing? We're GLAMPING, dammit) began to overflow.

Cue the banjo.

(Side note: washing congealed egg off of dishes with cold water is a total bitch).

I am having the time of my life over here. I love my little barn, and I am thrilled with my sink. I am obviously built for off-the-grid living. Clearly, I was born to glamp. I am now in the market for an Airstream - have hose, will travel.

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