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My horror tale of the great outdoors

POSTED: July 4, 2012 4:00 a.m.

There comes a time in every parent's life, where you have to share one of your personal brutal life experiences with your child.

Sometimes, it's an experience that is hard, painful even, to talk about.

Mine involved camping.

Cole has been wanting a family camping trip. After repeated pleas for it, I finally had to sit the child down and tell him why, under no kind of circumstances, I will ever go camping again. I had an experience once that scarred me for life.

I was 19 and dating "the Ex." His family went on camping trips every summer and this particular year, I had been invited. Jumping at the chance to spend more time with this boy - clearly a sign of youthful insanity - I eagerly agreed.

Footwear had to be purchased, which should have been a sign this was not the adventure for me. Thick soled hiking boots instead of fabulous heels.

Hot pink strappy sandals are apparently not conducive to traipsing through the national forest.

We left early that summer morning, me with my five pieces of luggage, including the bag containing my curling irons, blow dryer and Caboodle.

The Ex frowned and told me I wasn't going to be needing any of that. Oh no, even if I am in the wilderness, I was going to need my Lauder.

Upon our arrival, I discovered that we were going to be sleeping in a camper. I can endure anything for a week, I thought.

Until I found out said camper did not have a bathroom. The potty was a brisk little mile hike up the hill and had no doors for the two stalls. I don't even remember there being one on the entrance.

The Ex's younger sister promised me I could wake her up in the middle of the night to go with me.

There were no showers; bathing occurred in our bathing suits in the ice-cold rivers of North Carolina.

The Ex's mother said that was a test to see how I'd handle it. I told her it was actually 10 degrees warmer than my shower at home.

Another day in the lake had a pop-up storm that had me clinging to the side of the boat as we raced towards the dock. I just knew the force of the water was going to rip my swimsuit off and all I would have left to hide in would be my life-jacket.

Then it happened. We went on a hike.

A trail the Ex's mother basically blazed herself looking at a map and deciding that's where the path should go. A sure sign the woman wanted to kill me, no doubt.

We had to carefully walk across rocks that lined the rushing river to get to the other side.

Me, being full of grace as I am, fell into the river and got soaked.

Once on the other side, the path was barely flattened, as if no one had ever been on it. Not anything human anyway. On each side of the narrow path were snakes. And I mean a lot of 'em. Literally several dozen snakes.

I shrieked. The river was actually looking pretty good at this point.

"You're not going to let a little bitty snake bother you?" the Ex's mother said.

See, I told y'all this was a plot for my demise.

About that time, one snake uncoiled and slithered over the toe of my ugly hiking boots. I let out the scream of all screams and piggyback jumped over the Ex and all 75 inches of him and tore out of that snake den.

I think I actually levitated over the rocks as I made it across the river this time, not even losing my footing for a change.

When the rest of the group met me on the other side, the Ex's mother took one look at my tear-stained, snake-traumatized face and announced: "Who wants to go into town for frozen yogurt?"

I still shudder at the thought of camping.

"And that, Cole, is why I refuse to go camping to this day."

"What about fishing?" he asked.

"Oh, baby," I sighed. "That's a whole other horror story..."


Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and certified life coach.

 

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