Editor’s Note: The Time I Survived a Yurt

'Reader's Digest' Editor-at-Large Liz Vaccariello reflects on surviving her first camping trip.

november editors letterSteve Vaccariello for Reader's Digest

I started to worry when the golf cart taking me, Steve, and our suitcases stopped in the middle of the Maine forest. A yurt is a circular tent tall enough to stand in and wide enough to fit a family of Mongolian nomads. But I didn’t see it anywhere.

“You hike from here,” grunted our heretofore mute bellhop, pointing down a leafy trail. The woods were darkening, and Steve encouraged me to pick up the pace. My summer sandals slipped on the damp leaves, and the Samsonite flipped over whenever it encountered a root. Steve and I bumped and bickered for a good half hour until we spotted a beacon of white canvas. The yurt.

Steve expertly lit a fire. We ate some sandwiches, had a few beers, and settled in for a good night’s sleep. But I couldn’t relax. I shook Steve awake. “The door to the yurt doesn’t lock,” I said. “What if a bear wanders into camp?”

“Don’t worry. Moose are a bigger problem here than bears,” he said.

“Well, what if someone decides to rob us? Or what if one of the locals wants to teach us high-maintenance New Yorkers a lesson? You know, like Deliverance! I made such a spectacle of myself, I wouldn’t blame him.”

“OK,” Steve said with a heavy sigh. He jammed a chair under the door handle. “There, extra security.” He grinned. “And even if someone gets through the door, you’ll have time to grab that Vogue and use it as a weapon.” I laughed. Sleep moved in. We could enjoy our weekend.

When we “checked out” three mornings later, I was the first one up. That’s when I realized that the door opened … out. The chair had been serving no purpose other than to keep me quiet.

“So,” I said, as we trudged back to meet the golf cart. “How else have you been ‘handling’ me this weekend?”

He smiled. “Well, I decided not to tell you about the snake that lived in the firewood.”

I invite you to e-mail me at [email protected] and follow me at lizvaccariello on Instagram.

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