On camping

My favorite thing about camping is making a fire and cooking and eating outdoors. Before setting up camp at Bryce, we drove over to the Camper’s General Store and picked up some hot dogs, buns, and their last bag of marshmallows—all Stephanie’s idea, after seeing that our campsite had a firepit with grill. We already had two bundles of wood, which we’d been hauling around with us since we weren’t able to camp at Arches.

It gets pretty cold at night in Bryce, the elevation is like 9000ft, so the fire was crucial. After we’d gotten a good pile of glowing embers, we were actually able to roast the hot dogs and toast the buns on the grill. I say actually because I’ve never grilled something over anything but charcoal or gas—aside from the occasional wood chip smoking experiments in Texas. Hot dogs with buns toasted on both sides and slices of our leftover emmentaler cheese on a cold night: that’s heaven. Afterwards we roasted marshmallows, skipping the graham crackers and chocolate altogether.

Hot dogs on the firepit, camping at Bryce Canyon National Park

One of my least favorite things about camping is the sleeping part. We’ve got Thermarest pads and pillows, and decent mummy sleeping bags, but I always eat and drink too much right before going to bed that makes an already uncomfortable experience more so. This time there were no chips and guacamole, and I limited myself to 2 hot dogs and a beer and a half. My stomach was happier, but I still haven’t learned how to sleep in a sleeping bag. I’m a rotator. I constantly turn around during the night, and I usually have my legs spread in a position not amenable to a mummy bag. As a result, I find my camping sleeping experiences to be semi-conscious affairs. Sleeping pills might be in order. Or muscle relaxants?

Of course drinking too much (of anything, water or beer) leads to another problem, which I’m surprised I don’t hear my more camping-savvy friends talking about more often. Well, let me break the seal. Usually about part way through the night, my bladder fills up, and alerts my already uncomfortable, semi-conscious self of its state and impending needs. Of course I’m in some state of undress, wrapped in a mummy bag, inside a tent on the ground in the middle of the woods where invariably it’s cold out. Getting up to pee never seems to be an option, so I usually suffer the rest of the night holding my bladder until some point when I notice it’s light out which means: safe to wake up and pee. This time however, vowing not to be disturbed, I brought some old soft drink cups with lids into the tent, and though the urge to pee didn’t wake me this time—due to drinking in moderation and peeing right before bed—I did use the cup after I woke up, for science.

Why do we endure all this? Well, it’s really cool to wake up right at your destination for only $10 (plus some fraction of the $80 annual National Parks pass). Stephanie really loves setting up the tent and unrolling our sleeping bags. I love cooking outdoors. And I think part of the reason we’ve thrown ourselves into camping so vigorously as of late is because it provides a contrast from our recently urbanized lifestyles. As we’ve said often, we miss green.

Like any short hotel stay, it’s a bummer to arrive at night and then pack up everything and check out the next morning. So we both simultaneously decided we should stay in Bryce a second night. This meant we could wake up Wednesday morning without having to tear everything down, spend the day hiking the canyon, and then return to our already set up campsite. Incidentally this would be the first time we’d spent more than a single night camping together.

1 Comment


Hi Justin,

I could relate to the hazards of drinking too much liquid before retiring to the tent… too funny! Did you get a chance to visit Kodachrome Basin or Coral Pink Sand Dunes? Both of these campsites are State Parks and have hot showers.


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