There are people who hate camping, and there are people who LOVE. CAMPING.
The first time Joe and I went camping together, was the weekend of August 5th-7th, 2016. Yes, that’s right. If you’re thinking, “didn’t you only start dating, like, 5 weeks before that?” you would be right! It was a bold move. In fact, it was a really, really sneaky move on my part.
My friend was getting married in Cape Breton on August 6th. There were cabins and rooms at the hotel set aside for her guests, but I didn’t really want to spend that much on a room, especially if I was already going to have to rent a car for that weekend. So I found a campground nearby and decided to take the opportunity to do some tent camping!
I asked Joe if he’d like to go camping with me in Cape Breton that weekend. He said yes, immediately.
A few days later, I told him that part of the camping trip involved a wedding, but he didn’t have to go if it was too soon for something like that. But I would be going.
He said “is this your super-chicken-shit way of inviting me to a wedding, without actually inviting me to a wedding?”
“Yes,” I said, “and I’ve already RSVP’d for you just in case, with a vegetarian dinner. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
So… 5 weeks into our “relationship”, we embarked on a 6-hour road trip to Ingonish, Cape Breton. We talked the entire way, stopping at the Merb (Melmerby Beach) for a soak in the sun and a dip in the cold, cold ocean, and navigating the twisty-turny mountain roads of the Cape as the sun was disappearing.
I think perhaps Joe was wondering how long it would take to set up a tent in the complete darkness of a campground, since he repeatedly offered to pay for a night in a B&B instead. I insisted on the campground.
We pulled into our little campsite and left the car lights shining on the spot where I’d set up the tent. I’m not entirely sure what he’d been expecting, but he was pretty pleased that I had the tent up in about 8 minutes. Not my first time at the rodeo, Joe! 😉
The next day, we got up with the birds and found the only breakfast spot open that early. We explored Cape Smokey, jumped in the waves at Ingonish Beach, and basically had a wonderful day in the sunshine before going back to the campground to shower and clean ourselves up for the wedding (which was a blast, despite the fact we’re terrible dancers).
Sunday morning we were up early again. Not due to any virtuousness here, but actually because there was a man we swear must’ve had TB sleeping in the Taj Mahal-sized tent next to us. We still make fun of him. Poor guy. Hope he’s well.
We found a great breakfast spot on the way home, The Clucking Hen (clucking awesome, more like) and once again enjoyed a chatty and fun 6-hour drive home.
What’s the point of this story?
- One of us could have insisted on a real hotel room, or scoffed/moaned at the idea of CAMPING.
- One of us could have been bored to death by laying in the sand, driving for 6 hours, sleeping in a 6’x 6′ nylon bag, walking in the woods, staring at the ocean (I mean really, these are not necessarily everyone’s cuppa…)
- One of us could have wanted to go shopping, go to a museum, find a mall, eat at McDonald’s, go to a bar, get pissed drunk, etc. etc. etc.
The point is, none of that happened.
We both enjoyed every free activity that nature provided, we both wanted to support small and local businesses, we both enjoyed coffee over booze, we both had fun sleeping in the woods, we both enjoyed talking to each other for long stretches of time, we both got excited over ice cream, beaches and walks in the woods, and we both danced terribly and loved every minute of it. Essentially, spending time with each other, doing anything at all, is all that mattered.
It’s true, and I was warned, that it could have been completely disastrous. We could have argued or complained or disagreed the whole time, and broke up as soon as we returned home.
But it wasn’t, and we didn’t. We discovered a lot of shared values, new shared interests, and created some big goals from that weekend, and neither of us felt dissatisfied by doing things on the cheap.
I’m not saying you should go on a trip a month after you start dating someone… I mean… that’s your call! But it was a really effective and efficient way for us to realize that we were on the same page when it came to how we like to travel, what we’re comfortable with, what we find fun, and what we want to do next!
Of course, after that, the travel bug bit and we’ve been getting restless ever since. Hence… the trip fund. 🙂