The Great Outdoors by Catherine Russell

All my life I’d lived in a giant sprawling metropolis of skyscrapers, flashing neon, and asphalt highways. Most days were spent either at my apartment or my office or somewhere between the two. However, I’d always dreamed of open skies and wide spaces. So when a friend of mine invited me to go camping, I jumped at the chance.

My parents had never been the outdoors type. The most time I’d spent outside as a child revolved around the spinning wheel at the elementary school playground. As an adult, I was too embarrassed to admit to my friend that I’d never camped in my life. Determined to camouflage my inexperience, I loaded my truck with a self inflating tent, copious quantities of trail mix, and a case of water. I looked forward to learning my way around the campfire over the next few days.

Unfortunately, the weekend away didn’t include the mosquito repellent I’d forgotten to pack or bathroom facilities. I did learn that poison ivy makes lousy toilet paper. When I returned home, I kissed the plaster walls of my tiny apartment, had a long soak in the tub, and thanked the gods for calamine lotion.


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23 responses to “The Great Outdoors by Catherine Russell

  1. Randal Houle

    poison ivy = toilet paper… ha!

  2. “I kissed the plaster walls…” Lovely! A great reminder of how we limit our world: either the city – or the countryside! Thank you.

  3. An all-too-real revelation of a first camping trip for a city-slicker!

  4. Pingback: Ganymeder » Blog Archive » Friday Flash: The Great Outdoors

  5. Ha, too funny, but all too true! I dream of big forests and “roughing it” too, as I sit in my noisy apartment. But the reality never matches the dream, does it? :) Great story.

    Good luck on all your submissions!

  6. Pingback: The Great Outdoors by Catherine Russell | 52|250 A Year of Flash « All About the Outdoors

  7. Pingback: The Great Outdoors by Catherine Russell | 52|250 A Year of Flash « All About the Outdoors

  8. Nice story with that ring of the “alternative” life- first time camper! I’ve assisted more than one convert with this (can’t get enough of it!) and have some hilarious stories in doing so. Thanks for those memories.

  9. “Inflatable tent” had disaster written all over it…. maybe a sequel?
    [fun story!]

  10. Ah, nothing like a weekend in the woods to remind us why we created cities in the first place. Good story!

  11. Yes! Camping sucks! I only camped out once in the midst of a gypsy moth caterpillar invasion. Horror of horrors for someone who fears fuzzy bugs. This was really good! I could see her in the midst of that forest and, oh god, no toilet paper! yikes!

  12. Fun. I particularly liked “learning my way around the campfire”. It reminded me of an optional college orientation session I attended where the students camped before school started. One of the students was from new york and had never been outside the city. He became so frightened, he wouldn’t sleep outside, but slept in the dining hall.

  13. Every town has the story of the girl (or boy) who wiped with poison ivy, but I’ve yet to meet the genuine article. Do you think anybody’s actually done that? Gosh, I’m glad it’s not me.

  14. Hi Catherine – I liked this. Easy to read, engaging, works in a very small space. It was funny and I liked the narrator. It is also a proper story – she goes, she comes back, she was changed by the experience (itchy blisters not withstanding ;) ). Very good.

  15. Kim Hutchinson

    Couldn’t agree with this narrator more. Going to kiss the plaster walls now…

  16. Al McDermid

    “I did learn that poison ivy makes lousy toilet paper.” I sure hope this is not based on a true story! I love camping, but being an ‘urban convert’, I get this story as well. Nicely done.

  17. What makes me giggle is that if the narrator had admitted to being a camping virgin, some of the more experienced people out there would probably have happily pointed out more suitable leaves.

  18. SO much to smile at — kissing plaster walls, wiping heineys with three-leaved horrors. This reminded me of my own camping misadventures. Peace…

  19. Man, how I can identify with that!! I’m SO NOT the nature kind of guy… Perfectly written!

  20. Pingback: Ganymeder » Blog Archive » My Writing Niche (podcast): episode #13 – Comparisons

  21. KjM

    Not thinking about poison ivy, not thinking about poison ivy, not thinking…

    Sigh. Now that’s all I can think of! :-)

    A fun read and it confirms why I never went camping.

    Nicely done.

  22. Pingback: Week # 30 – Urban convert | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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