Surviving the end-of-semester push through drastic means: camping

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgI've noticed that a certain grimness has entered my colleagues' and my attitude over the last week or so. It's a "there is only (X) days/weeks left, we just have to finish" attitude, similar to what I anticipate marathon runners experience around about 24 miles or so. A just keep going, don't break down now, you are mortgaging your body with lack of sleep and too much effort, but keep going, you only have a little bit left, and then you can sleep kind of thing. Does that sound familiar?

Well, to try to combat this attitude in myself, my husband and I took ourselves camping this weekend. Luckily, there were not too many panicked emails from students while we were away from the Interwebz, and we refreshed ourselves pretty well to keep going over the next two weeks. I think. I hope.

Our strategy was simple: leave work and town about 2 pm on Friday, and drive to a nearby state park (~ 1hr away). The idea was that then we wouldn't spend our whole weekend driving, and if the weather turned bad (which it did) we could bail and head home quickly if needed.

My husband pretty much carried the entire camping load -- packing, driving, setting up, cooking, dragging me on hikes, more cooking and general cheerfulness made the afternoon particularly lovely, even though I had yet another headache (at least they're not migraines anymore). We had a tomato curry for dinner, and sat around the campfire and read our books/did our crosswords as the sun set. Unfortunately we also had loud neighbors who kept yelling at their kid, but we managed.

We both slept really well the first night, an unusual occurrence (usually you sleep better the 2nd night because you're so tired from your bad first night). We had a breakfast of fried vanilla-almond bread from Great Harvest (this tasted like doughnuts and was probably as good for us as doughnuts too) and bocages (our first indulgence for months), then headed out for a hike that kept getting longer and longer until it had taken 4 hours. We walked up canyons, forded rivers, walked through fields of Virginia bluebells and other wildflowers, had a generally pleasant time until we reached a traffic jam of idiot stupid people trampling all over off the trail around these canyon ladders.

Dutchman's breeches

Dutchman's breeches

Fields of Virginia bluebells

Fields of Virginia bluebells

Trout lilies

Trout lilies

Ladders in Bear Hollow

Ladders without people - don't ask how I managed to get a photo with no people in it, because they were there in swarms.

The rest of the hike we just wanted to get home and forget about the idiot stupid people; unfortunately, when we arrived back at the tent, we discovered 1) a bulldozer was laying asphalt at the closed campsite across the valley from us - on a Saturday, yet! and 2) the Hullabaloos in their Tent Margoletta had arrived, and were playing loud music that clashed with the bulldozer engine. We were not happy. In fact, we jumped ship - we put our camp chairs in the car, and then drove to The Shades, another state park about 20 minutes away. Note to self: do not get put off by the former name of park as "The Shades of Death," (no kidding!) as the campsite was non-electric, so there could be no Hullabaloos with their loud music. We set up our chairs facing the forest, about 30 yards away from the parking lot, and had a very pleasant read until it got cloudy and we got cold.

We headed back to Turkey Run, and decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Inn. It was another rather Hullabaloo-ish time, full of people, and there was no vegetarian food. However, there was my new favorite dessert, which is this sort of doughnut you put fruit butter on. We had it somewhere else where they served it to us as *bread.* Wowza.

Turkey Run Inn

The Turkey Run Inn

We headed back to the campsite, and got progressively more irritated with the Hullabaloos as they kept their music cranked until well past 10 pm - we gave up on our fire and headed to bed. And then felt virtuous when it started to rain -- some of the Hullabaloos seemed to be rookie campers, and had not tucked their groundsheet under their tents, providing a funnel to direct all the rainwater directly into their sleeping bags. Ha ha ha, serves them right. Camping karma.

My husband had presciently packed up the tarp and all the gear that evening, so all we had to do when we woke up was get dressed and take the tent down. Our tent did very well, especially with the guy lines pulling out the rain fly. We dumped the wet tent into a plastic bag, drove back to West Lafayette, and were back by 10 am, in time for a brunch of the eggs and veggies we hadn't cooked already. The rest of the day, while it poured with rain outside, was spent pulling ourselves back together for the rest of the week: laundry, hanging up the tent/rain fly/tarp, grocery shopping and making food for leftovers, and still ignoring email as my vacation message said I wasn't going to be back online until Monday (this actually worked in terms of me feeling like I didn't have to check it obsessively! I wonder if I could do this most weekends?)

It was hard getting back into the work mindset this morning, but all in all it was a good weekend, and I feel a bit more like I can carry on through to the end of next week. I hope.

All the photos, including more wildflowers

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My husband and I do a similar weekend/nearby camping getaway quite regularly. It definitely helps with relieving burn-out (at least temporarily) and it especially helps me that he usually does all the work.

Your title had me going, I have to admit.

One too many industrial "death marches" where "camping" meant setting up a cot in the office.

Glad yours was of the enjoyable kind!

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 20 Apr 2009 #permalink

Ooh - Tomato Curry. Care to share a recipe?

We have a glut of tomatos - ripe and unripe.

We are deeply into Autumn here, so will have to harvest some while still green. Any recipe suggestions gratefully accepted.
Thus far: semi-dried in the oven (yummy), tomato sauce used in Lasagne, and Tomato Soup with Rice have been big hits.