Aug 18, 2014

Camping Misadventures

This was it.  This was the weekend we had all been waiting for.  It had been a whole year since our last, great, Mallott family camping adventure.  We were poised to deliver great expectations on this blessed trip.  However, we have noticed an uncomfortable trend infringing on our glorious camping experiences the last few years.  The trend (or curse) is that of rain.  It seems that no matter when or where we plan a camping trip, it rains.  Not just rain.  Thunderstorms.  This trip was no exception.  Not that it had rained at ALL for the past month.


We decided to head out early on Sunday since the forecast showed the higher percentage of rain for later in the day.  The entire drive to our destination - it rained.  That should have been clue number 1. Oh ya, and it was like 55 - 60 degrees...in August!  We could see our breath people! Our breath!!  This should have been clue number two - just turn around and go home now.  But no, ever the optimists we're all like, "Oh this is perfect hiking weather, we wouldn't want it any hotter - this is just great." Whatever.  Apparently, being outdoors does something funky to my brain and makes me question all things practical and wise.


Hiking in the cool fall-like weather of August with complete cloud cover and the occasional sprinkle was wonderful.  We were lost in the beauty of nature and rock climbing (please don't assume these are vertical levels we are attempting here, they are simply lots of rock outcroppings on a horizontal plane - much easier for us novices to handle).  We are out for a day of adventure and gosh darn-it, we will have it rain or shine!  We will not let the weather control our attitude - even though Chuck and I are giving weary glances back and forth wondering if we'll actually make it all the way through till the next morning.

This is the type of hiking we live for...off trail, climbing, a hint of danger involved and the smell of the great outdoors surrounding us.  A little sun and warmth added to the mix would be nice, but we realize we can't have it all. 


However, we were lucky enough to find the door to the woods, so we felt rather special.


This is the depth of hiking we had at our finger tips.  Too bad our finger tips and the rocks were too wet to climb because of all the rain!  And if it wasn't rain, it was fog.  The fog on the morning we woke up was so thick you couldn't see the other side of the river.


Like I said, we live on the edge.  If you have a teenager around (or Chuck), you know that if there is a sign that says something is probably hazardous, then we have to immediately head for that area and explore it and mock the sign that was meant to keep the weak minded away.  We made it half way down this cliff face before we realized a few important items: 1.  it was already starting to rain and the path was mostly a mud slope with an 10% grade, we might not make it back up.   2. Since it's so steep, it might be painful to (adult) muscles to have to climb all the way back up on slippery mud.  3. We didn't bring any rope, first aid kits or water....so if we got stuck in the 'hazardous' area Bear Grylls might think we hadn't been paying attention to all his hints and tips he so readily gives on all his survivor shows and we wouldn't want to disappoint him.


But oh, would Bear be proud of my husband for thinking up this little trick.  If there must be rain, then we WILL outsmart it.  Never again will we be caught sleeping in a water filled tent (yes, it has happened at least 2, maybe 3 other times to us).  This is the Tarp From Heaven.  It kept us dry all night long.  I was truly impressed with my husband's rope tying skills and ability to keep me from an utter melt-down in the rain.  


Unfortunately for us, we couldn't start a fire in our fire pit at the campsite.  Fortunately for us, there was a 'lodge' on the campgrounds with a massive fireplace.  We improvised and voila....we still had fajitas for dinner....even though we had to cook the teeny, tiny strips of chicken one at a time speared on a k-bob holder.  Our hands were getting slightly burnt being so close to the fire with our one slice of chicken.  Necessity is the mother of invention - thus, that is why our hands are wrapped in our table cloth.  Problem solved.  It only took us a hour to eat one at a time.  Each person got exactly one fajita with one piece of meat but hey, at least we got to eat, stay warm and dry for a while and even had ample space to play our family game of nertz after dinner.


Once we got back to our campsite there was really nothing left to do but read.  It was already getting pretty dark even though it was only 7:00 because of the storm outside.  We kept telling the kids, "We're making memories, so enjoy it."


Bennett took it seriously and decided he would be happier making memories if he could eat all the doritos and oreos he wanted inside his sleeping bag that comes equipped with arm holes.  He certainly was a Happy Camper.

Chloe was so disillusioned that we were going to bed so early she would have none of that (plus, she finished her book and hand nothing left to do).  She decided to run away.  At least as far away as the car and try to come up with a better plan.  There was alot of huffy breaths, crocodile tears and drama involved.   She felt we were all party poopers.  So she took it upon herself to try to get our campfire going.  She noticed that when she left the comfort of our shelter that it wasn't raining.  So even though the fire pit was soaking wet, she deduced that a fire would be had.  THIS is what camping is all about - sitting around the campfire at night talking and eating smores.  Thank God for her persistence and strong will in this because she won out, succeeded in dragging us all out of the tent and had (with a small bit of help from Daddy) gotten the fire started and all the chairs set up around it.  We enjoyed our last hour of no rain gathered around the fire talking.   

And then we lie in the tent for the next 8 hours listening to the rain pelt the tarp and the wind howl.  If I fell asleep it was on accident.  I don't know how it would have happened because all I remember was looking at the ceiling and trying to guess what time it was all night.  At one point I rolled over and told Chuck, "I feel like I'm an NFL coach who is waiting for the team to dump a cooler full of Gatorade on me."  I just KNEW all the water gathering on the tarp was going to somehow seep through and shower us from above.  We were all miserable, but made it through the night dry, much to my surprise.  We did a HARD thing.  It wasn't the optimal circumstances, but we indeed made a memory and tried desperately to make the most out of it.  

We were out of there, packed and on the road by 8am.   Maybe the Mallotts will only camp in cabins from now on.  This whole tent/rain thing is getting old.  Every. Time.

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