The Good, The Bad, And The Dusty

Desert Tree: Great for Fire Kindling...Not for Shade

Had I written this post on Sunday when I got back from a scout camping trip with my son, the title of this post would have been something like “Desert Camping Stinks – And There’s Not Enough Deodorant to Fix it”, “Cacti Are Poor Substitutes for Trees”, or “Desert Camping – Don’t Do It…Ever.”

Thankfully, I’ve had a couple days to recuperate and change my attitude.

But I can’t change the facts.  The temperature was in the high nineties; there wasn’t a single shade tree as far as the eye could see (a distance diminished by the clouds of dust that hung in the air); bees apparently like heat and dust; the Porta Potties were…never mind, I won’t go there; and it was hot.  Oh, did I mention that one already?

Now that my perspiration-soaked clothes have been replaced by dry ones and my camping odor has been erased by several days of Bath and Body Works Pearberry scent, I can see the parts of the weekend that were brighter than my sunscreen-coated fair skin (as it got seared by the sun.)

The scouts spent Saturday rotating through twelve activity stations.  They had half an hour to complete the tasks, which included a cow patty toss (not real ones, thankfully), panning for gold, wrist rockets (which are like sling shots), air rifles, archery, and several activities that relied heavily on teamwork.

The boys didn’t win any ribbons, but I am proud of their efforts.  Their teamwork was especially great.  They worked together to complete some difficult challenges and although a couple of them came close to tears of frustration, not a single one gave up.  They even cheered on the competition, which the game organizers noted.

I think I'd rather sleep with the fishes than a centipede...

Yes, I am thankful that the good stays in the forefront of my memories, weakening my recollection of reality the bad and the dusty:  the dehydration headache, accidentally picking up a dead cactus, the aggravation of my son repeatedly calling me “mean”, the centipede that visited our campsite (my imagination painted many relatives invading our tent – specifically my sleeping bag), and of course – the thick film of dirt covering every exposed inch of skin, and somehow even skin that was clothed.

As for the dirt, I don’t know which I find more disturbing:  (1) the discovery that I have so many creases in my neck, or (2) the fact that so much grime could settle in these previously unnoticed creases.

I have a renewed appreciation for soap and running water… and the hectic nature of the next three months.  There are no camping trips planned until spring!

I know some of you have warned me (repeatedly) about the hardships of camping, but I am a glutton for punishment mother of two boys – I can’t avoid it.  If you must say “I told you so,” please be kind 🙂

Centipede image via


22 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, And The Dusty

  1. Widdershins October 19, 2011 / 12:00 AM

    One truly learns to appreciate running HOT water after these times doesn’t one? Congratulations on surviving. And those creases, they’re merely a side-effect of dehydration!

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2011 / 8:12 PM

      I’ll take your word for it on the creases, Widdershins. Just in case, I’ve been keeping a safe distance from the mirror 🙂

  2. Carl D'Agostino October 19, 2011 / 4:17 AM

    Rather sleep with a centipede than a scorpion. One got me while sleeping 20 years ago. Still hurts.

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2011 / 8:16 PM

      I agree 100%, Carl. I believe I’d take the centipede over the scorpion, too. They scare me!

  3. suzicate October 19, 2011 / 4:27 AM

    …and I thought beach camping was tough! I never considered desert camping. Just send me to some pretty mountains on the East coast.

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2011 / 8:20 PM

      At least you have water and cooler temps camping on the beach. We had a canyon that some of the boys hiked down to. I didn’t go, but was told that it was a lot cooler. Although there was only a little bit of muddy water and a smelly bones from a dead animal. (I saw a photo of my son holding the skull bone of whatever it was. Gross!)

      I like your mountains a whole lot more than dusty camping, Suzicate!

  4. nrhatch October 19, 2011 / 8:23 AM

    We’ve camped in the desert . . . right outside the Circus Circus Casino in Vegas. We plugged in the camper, turned on the A/C, and headed for the blackjack tables. Not bad.

    The best part of real backwoords (or dry desert) camping is getting in the shower, at home, to wash off all the FUN. 😀

    You rock! As a mother and a den mother!

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2011 / 8:27 PM

      Hmmm…technically, that is the desert, but you haven’t been real desert camping until you’ve traveled at least five miles on a dirt road to get there. And a camper with A/C outside a casino changes the game (in a good way.)

      You’re right about the shower, Nancy. We stopped at McDonald’s to use their restroom and get somethign to eat on the way home. I noticed people didn’t get too close to me – I suspect the scent of my FUN had something to do with it.. I’ve found my strategy for going in public during the holidays 🙂

    • nrhatch October 20, 2011 / 7:05 AM

      Wait! Are you saying that camping in Vegas doesn’t count? 😉

      That’s a good plan for the holidays. People will steer clear of your No Wash Zone.

      • jannatwrites October 20, 2011 / 10:11 PM

        Camping in Vegas is like ketchup on buffalo wings…to get the three-alarm fire, you need to camp in the middle of nowhere off a long dirt road.

        I don’t care for spicy food, so I think Vegas is more my flavor 😉

  5. cuhome October 19, 2011 / 3:06 PM

    Hey!! I just had a thought after reading about the dusty filled creases in your neck/face/everywhere ~~~ you could develop a pricey $$$, sophistically named facial (Dusty Desert Dreams) ~~ just add a bit of cream and leave on for an hour. I mean, if nothing else, the person using it would be soooo wanting to get that stuff off their faces after an hour, that once they did, they’d believe their skin felt and looked better because of that awful hour-long stint covered with the stuff!!! You could even add in the instructions that, itching, a gooey feeling, warmth, are normal reactions that indicate the product is doing its youth-restoring work!!! What dya think?

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2011 / 8:34 PM

      Cuhome, I think I’ve bought that cream under a different name 😉

      Thanks for the laugh. It sounds like a rock-solid business plan to me! Sadly, I don’t think you’re far off from what the beauty industry does. It’s amazing how our minds can deceive us…

  6. jeanne October 19, 2011 / 8:21 PM

    A couple of words of camping advice that my Mother-in-law (she had 5 boys) shared with me, bring a broom. These are truly pearls of wisdom from a woman who could pack a cooler and a car with 5 boys, a tent and of course a broom and camp for a week. You will thank me, I promise.

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2011 / 8:46 PM

      Five boys…wow! I can’t argue with her advice.

      So is the broom for cleaning, or convincing the kids to mind? (Put down the phone…I’m only teasing.)

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing the camping advice, Jeanne.

  7. Debbie October 21, 2011 / 5:10 PM

    After your story, Janna, I’m ever so thankful my son didn’t want to join Scouts! He spent his time doing athletic and musical things, none of which required me to endure centipedes or camping in the great outdoors! You must be bucking for sainthood!!

    • jannatwrites October 21, 2011 / 8:41 PM

      In defense of Scouts, I think it would be more fun in a different part of the country. As far as I know, the centipedes stayed away from our tent (ignorance is bliss.)

      As for sainthood…I suspect a more likely explanation might be some kind of undiagnosed mental disorder 😉

      Thanks for reading this nutty lady’s story, Debbie!

  8. journeytoepiphany October 22, 2011 / 5:43 AM

    This is so fun and clever. I’m glad you made it out alive!! PS I love the creases in your neck part. As I’ve gotten older the skin tags on my neck are on the increase. Yikes!

    • jannatwrites October 23, 2011 / 1:00 AM

      Yep, I have a few skin tags, too. And sun spots. Aging is so much fun 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Journeytoepiphany. I am also glad we survived to camp again!

  9. Judith November 1, 2011 / 2:37 PM

    Aging is so much fun especially when you realise your kids are grown and neither they nor their kids want you to go camping with them. A couple of years ago two grandsons asked why Granma didn’t come camping with them? After she picked herself off the floor with laughter my daughter explained that Granma didn’t know what camping meant. So no more requests to join them. Oh I did go camping with the Girl Guides aeons ago!

    • jannatwrites November 1, 2011 / 7:29 PM

      I wouldn’t admit to your prior camping experience, Judith, or you might get roped into going again 🙂 It’s funny because my parents have lost all recollection of how to camp even though I remember going with them when I was a child. It’s good to know I can play that card when my kids grow up!

  10. pattisj November 10, 2011 / 4:51 PM

    You are such a trooper. Glad to see you survived. 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 10, 2011 / 5:58 PM

      Thanks, Patti. I’m glad I made it, too!

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