Katie and I went camping this past weekend. We headed out Saturday morning and got back Sunday afternoon, driving up through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge to a KOA Campground (or, sorry, “Kampground”) near Petaluma, CA. We had recently gotten an REI tent as an anniversary present from my parents, and also purchased various other necessities. We packed up the car, ate at the Millbrae Pancake House on the way, and were excited to experience the great outdoors.

Our Tent

The Awesome? Camping is really fun. We ate hot dogs cooked over a campfire and chili cooked over a very small (and somewhat ineffective) camping stove and it all tasted fantastic. We were able to zip our two sleeping bags together and snuggle in the tent, read (or in Katie’s case, attempt to learn to crochet) without distractions, and just sit around a cozy campfire.

The Lame? KOA Kampsites might as well be resorts. A pool, shuffleboard courts, live music from cover bands, free WiFi. When did camping become about amenities? The whole point is to rough it, to experience nature, to have to walk to a bathroom, to cook over a dinky stove. We were within two minutes walking distance of a “Kamping Kitchen” which we would never have dared to use out of principle. It seemed like a contradiction in many ways.

Verdict: we’d love to go camping again, but probably won’t be making a reservation at a KOA anytime soon. Some of the national parks around here also offer camping sites, but we would have had to reserve them well in advance. I guess we’ll just have to start planning ahead. Oh, and I’ll have to get over my fear of a bear attacking our tent in the middle of the night.