Birthday Part 1

For the past five years I've gone camping over my birthday weekend.  My mid-May birthday often falls on Mother's Day, but sometimes it'll be a Tuesday and I'll celebrate from Friday through Tuesday and I have no shame about it.

My first Birthday Camping trip, I camped alone.  I drove up to Kohler-Andrea outside Sheboygan.  I had with me the tent I received for my birthday in 4th grade.  

Side: my fourth grade birthday was fine.  I think I got a bookshelf or something and that was all well and good, but what I really wanted was a tent.  The night of my birthday, with a big sigh with a hint of disappointment for not receiving my tent, I removed myself from my typical spot on the couch and went to brush my teeth.  I came back down to join my family for our nighttime prayer and to say goodnight, and my mom asked me to fold my blanket or something.  I picked up the blanket.... and underneath was my Tent!! Joy!  We all went downstairs and set it up immediately.  I used that tent for many camping trips, often with my best friend Adrienne, whom I am fortunate enough to still be celebrating my birthday with!

I packed the sleeping bag that I had been using since memory begins.  I also packed a chair, a book, my journal, some food (about three heaping servings of campers stew/hobo dinner, whatever you call it), and two 40s of high life.  

The wood was wet.  It was cold.  I think it rained.  I slept on the ground and -surprise!- it was not comfortable!  I got drunk.  I was reading The Time Traveller's Wife and so I cried a lot.  I got really drunk.  I was so drunk that I called my mom while drunk.  (Who does that?)

Does this all sound pretty miserable?  Because this trip was truly miserable.  I was miserable.  I needed to say goodbye to part of my life that needed to be deleted and "empty trash," so when I say I was miserable, I mean actually miserable.  So I went camping.  Alone.  For my birthday.  And through all the misery, I was able to reconnect with myself.

I made a hot albeit smoky fire (granted with help over the phone from my dad and uncle who were at a different campground on my brother's bachelor camping trip).  I successfully cooked my three heaping servings of campers stew, and I ate it all.  I washed away all the bad with my tears.  A cardinal quietly visited me.  I was alone and happy.

The next year I had a new sleeping bag.

The year after that I had a new tent.

The year after that I had hiking shoes and wool socks.

The year after that I had a rain jacket.

And I'm not camping alone anymore on my birthday.  I surround myself with the best people in my life.  We hike.  We eat.  We drink.  We laugh together, and we get a little deep.

My dad isn't in this pic- he was taking a little nap!  And Adrienne and her bf Mike had already left, boo.

Every year I am grateful to have amazing people to share my time with, many of whom are not in this darling picture.

A Favorite Ritual

I want a bumper sticker that says, "I'd Rather Be Camping."  I would rather be camping.  Not just right now, but yesterday, last week, next week, in October, next May.  Everything is brighter sitting around a campfire alone or with friends.  

Every May I spend my birthday weekend camping with my friends and family, and it's most definitely my most favorite weekend of the year.  In May we went to Devil's Lake.  I looked forward to hiking around the lake and enjoying time with my closest friends.  

These are my parents :)

Devil's Lake State Park is in Baraboo, and is the third oldest state park in Wisconsin.  Hikable bluffs reaching 500 feet high surround a 360-acre lake.  When I was a child, this lake gave me a horrible case of swimmer's itch (which has been eradicated); now the lake is the most refreshing thing after a morning of hiking.  

And as birthdays should be all about doing your favorite things, I spent part of my big day at Shooters Supply, gun in hand.  Favorite day.

For Ben, we usually go skate at the Pettit, and out for hibachi before we celebrate the New Year.  What are your favorite birthday activities?  Do you do different things each year, or do you have a celebration ritual?