Tent-Camping Misery

We were supposed to go on a two-week, cross-country, Griswold-style road trip from Indiana to California and back this summer. Research in hand, I was all ready to get the Prius rolling– and then work plans changed for Jeremy taking him away for what would have been the first few days of our adventure. The work opportunity was something that couldn’t be put off or changed, so instead we just shrugged our shoulders and said, “Sad…but another time.”

However, not ones to completely put off some family time together, we decided to give in to the kiddos pleas to go camping. In a tent. For fun. Apparently we don’t really understand the definition of “fun.” More on that in a moment.

Mammoth Cave has also been on Peyton’s “must-do” list for the past year. “Why not start our camping adventure weekend by visiting Mammoth Cave National Park?” we thought. So we did. And awesome-sauce us, when we rolled into the park at about 11am, the tours were all sold out until after 3:30pm {mind you the plan was to drive back up to a campsite two hours away in southern Indiana after a quick Mammoth Cave tour}.

So we did what any family not entirely into the experience would do and just took the self-guided tour. Ehh…it was lackluster. Sure, the cave is big, but it’s also cold and dry and really sort of boring– unless you are WAY into Geology and we’re sorta not so much. Thus an hour after arriving at Mammoth Cave we checked off our “Saw Mammoth Cave” bucket-list box and continued on to the campsite.

This part wasn’t so bad. We set up the tent, made a quick Wal-Mart run for food and grabbed Subway to take back to the campsite so that we could haul four chairs and other assorted items down to the amphitheater for a campground screening of Rio 2. Ok. Good times. Afterward we traipsed back to our site and crawled into our tent where we attempted sleeping on our personal twin sized air mattresses {also, not so bad aside from the part where Jeremy pinned his bum knee under himself and I thought I was going to have to get him to a hospital stat. I digress.}. Even the f-bomb dropping brood of tweens next door didn’t put too much of a damper on it {this is inevitable campground behavior and thankfully our little ones were FAST asleep}.

So where did this camping trip turn miserable? Two words: Leg hair. {probably not the same reason for the experiential down-turn for Jeremy}

The next morning started out groggy but decent. We trekked down to sign up for a boat cave tour at our campground {which was AWESOME actually– much better than Mammoth Cave} and I knew that the kids wanted to go swimming after the tour. No problem, right? WRONG. HUGE problem.

You see, maybe this is true for you– maybe it’s not– but either way it’s probably TMI, but I just plain don’t care. The problem: Caves are cold. My leg hair grows at otherworldly rates when I get goosebumps. No one wants Mrs. Hairy-Legs frolicking in the swimming pool. Campground showers are disgusting, but necessary for said leg hair removal. Oh wait, showers don’t have a place to put my toiletry bag? Goody-goody gumdrops. Super. To the pool bathhouse it is. Oh wait, it costs $3 per person to swim?  I still have ape legs and I’m drenched in sweat from having to wear jeans just to cover the leg hair during the cold cave tour and now this madness?!?! AGHHHH… I do not want to pay even one buck more for this inane misery! I’m just done. There were tears and much wailing and gnashing of teeth {maybe not}.

This little trip needed an injection of fun pronto. A hotel with a pool and Holiday World had to happen. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing– even “not really vacation vacations.” This is why travel agents don’t tent camp! I typically spend hours planning ahead so that we don’t have to endure misery. Alas, we drove into town just to sit in the McDonald’s parking lot to secure a WiFi signal and book a hotel room.Things were looking up. I started dreaming dreams of hot showers and silky smooth legs.

The kids were fine with the change of plans under the condition that we check off the “roast hot dogs and s’mores” box before we packed up camp. Check.

By 4pm we rolled in Jasper, Indiana, and I took the best shower of my entire life {including post-international trips and following child-birth}. Then, I swam without assaulting my family with prickly pear calves. Bliss, I tell you. Bliss.

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari made for a great end to the trip.

Now I know why everyone over 30 purchases a camper if they want to go camping. Either we buy a camper in the coming years, or we eschew camping altogether. Ahhh…memories.

P.S. This trip was so awesome that I didn’t even get pictures. #parentfail #notthefirsttime


  1. says

    Oh no! I hope you will reconsider your perspective on Mammoth Cave! You really can’t base your opinion based on the one room you’re allowed to enter on the self-guided tour. Mammoth Cave is the worlds’s longest cave system, and that one room is not at all representative. We’ve been many times and have done several different tours seeing different parts of the cave each time. You don’t really see anything at all without a ranger-guided tour. And did the kids do the Junior Ranger program? I’m pretty sure you can do that even without a tour. Kinley and Knox do those every time we visit a National Patk site. I think maybe next time you should book your tour (or tours since you could easily do more than one if you book ahead) online ahead of time and plan to stay in Cave City. It really is a great National Park! Give it another chance!

    • says

      We will definitely give it another shot one of these days. For all of the time that I spend planning, apparently my heart just wasn’t into Mammoth Caving-it this past weekend because why in the world would I NOT have looked to see if we could pre-book the tours online?! I mean, really…*facepalm*

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