Camping vs. glamping – after the past two weekends, I have an accurate comparison of each to help me form my opinion on the two.
Last weekend, Sean and I joined another couple on a weekend camping trip. I’m talking, like, real camping. The kind where you pack as little as you can into a dry-bag, strap a borrowed canoe onto the roof of the car, and pray for the best.
The last time I engaged in this kind of adventure was a decade ago. Three teachers from the Leadership Development/ Environmental Education course at my high-school loaded up a dozen seventeen year olds and we set out on a week long (or was it only 4 days… either way!) canoe trip at Massasauga Provincial Park.
We had a few things going for us back then:
1. My friend borrowed her sister’s EZ-up tent. This meant that we could get to our site, set everything up, and have dinner going on the single Bunsen burner thing while others were still fiddling around with tent poles
2. We had spent all spring preparing for the trip – including putting in hours on Otonabee River learning how to canoe
3. There were lots of paddling partners to choose from, so I got partnered up with classmates who had comparable strength to me (otherwise known as “weakling level strength”)
So, after ten years, here I was doing a long weekend camping trip in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, on Crab Lake. This entailed canoeing across two lakes (Wolf and Crab) and a short 120m portage between the two. It took us two hours – two grueling, terrible, relationship-threatening hours. Ok, maybe I’m over-exaggerating. But it wasn’t great. We had a tippy, heavy, fibreglass canoe that was over-packed; two novice canoers with disproportionate strength and size; and one canoer with extreme anxiety because they didn’t pack properly (your electronics should go in your dry-bag if you care about them more than your clothes. Note: this wasn’t me).
The night before we left, we decided to get a new tent for the trip. If not, we were going to be arguing to the death on whether to bring a 7-8 person tent or a 2-3 person tent (I was in favour of the small one for two reason: I fit fine in it, and it’s only 6 lbs., which is great for portaging). Thankfully, EZ tents were on sale at Canadian Tire, so we bought the Coleman 4-Person Instant Cabin With Mini-Fly. This tent was an absolute life-saver…literally. After the canoe trip into the site, Sean and I were both at our wits end with each other. This tent allowed us to easily, and without fuss, set our sleeping quarters, so we could be happily in love again.
Along with our “instant” tent and air mattress, which could be considered a little bit glamourous to real campers, we also had incredible meals, thanks to our seasoned camper friends who brought a Coleman double burner propane stove on the the trek. We nommed on eggs Benedict, fried turnip and mushrooms, chicken burritos, spaghetti, and French toast, as well as the usual camping staples: hot dogs and sausages, s’mores, trail mix and chips. I also brought 1 litre of boxed red wine, because what kind of holiday would it be without wine?
About the wine:
For coming from a tetra box, the wine I brought with me was surprisingly satisfying. I went with the French Cross Red. It was medium bodied, went down easy, and paired well with the sausages we had for dinner, as well as the Lays chips and s’mores that followed, and still tasted good the next day.
The rest of the time at the site was spent hammock-lounging, chatting around the campfire, swimming, learning about the campers across the lake from us (Carter, Mia, Lesley and rest of the gang), and restraining ourselves from paddling over to give some lessons in back-country camping and courtesy for others that came here to enjoy the sounds of nature and not screaming children.
Our tent held up (although our air mattress didn’t), we had perfect weather all weekend, and I learned some camping tips and what kinds of gear I should look into if we were ever to take up outdoorsmanship in the future.
This weekend was another kind of “camping.” Even calling it glamping is a far stretch of the word. It is more like staying at at a riverside home away from home, nearer to the woods, with way more mosquitoes, less personal space, and campfires every night. If it was real camping, it would’ve been the worst weekend for it. It was cold, rainy and dark from Friday night all the way to Sunday morning. Luckily, that didn’t put a damper on what I was planning to accomplish this weekend, which boiled down to one word: relaxing.
We ate well (and I even had the willpower to just say “no” to chocolate éclairs), did some auctioning where I got a few deals, watched 3:10 To Yuma and Limitless (auction finds, of course!), slept well, and tried a new bottle of vino that I loved.
I brought a bottle of Sangria, thinking that it was going to get up to 28 degrees and be nice over the weekend. I also brought it because it was white wine and sweet, so I figured my mum would enjoy it with me (or at least have a glass so I wouldn’t feel like such a wino). Unfortunately, as stated previously, the weather was far from that requiring a cold, fruity drink. Instead, it called for hot chocolate, or, in my case, a bottle of red wine.
About the wine:
This time around, I chose Bodacious Smooth Red – a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was smooth, warming, and just sweet enough for my mum to try it and ask for a top-up.
What did I learn about these two weekends?
I love trying new things, even if it’s pushing my comfort zone a little bit. I have a very dominating personality, and believe I was referred to as a “know-it-all” whilst engaging in the old-couple banter in the canoe. I have a hard time not being in control, not planning out every little detail, and maintaining calm, grown-up communication when I’m tired and frustrated. I think I already knew all that about myself, but it was very apparent on the canoe trip. That weekend was an eye-opener for how Sean and I work as a team, and the areas that could maybe use some attention, or where we should tread carefully in the future.
I also really love those laid-back hangout weekends with my family. The ones where we have all the amenities we need, where bad weather isn’t really a deal-breaker, and where we can just be thankful for the people we have around us and the luxuries that life has afforded us.
So tell me, are you a glamper, or a camper?