Monday, May 21, 2012

Not quite according to plan

Ah, family camping trips. Fun and adventure. Or something like that.

This past weekend, we planned to take our boys camping for the first time. They were beyond excited. In fact, they were so excited that two weeks ago, Beloved Husband and the boys set up the tent in the back yard to let it air out (I was out of town at the time). Apparently, they forgot it was outside, and a thunderstorm hit around 5:30 in the morning. A few hours later, BH dumped several gallons of water out of the tent. I guess Mother Nature thought it needed a good wash. 

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For two weeks after that storm, we had no rain. Not a drop. Even the clouds - when they bothered to appear - were half-hearted and wispy. Weather forecast for our camping weekend: sun, sun, sun.

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Last Thursday: we get the last of the supplies. Weather forecast for the weekend: wind. Okay. We can handle that. It's always windy here (although to qualify as "windy" with the meteorologists here, it has to exceed about 30 mph). We'll just be sure we've got extra tent stakes. Besides, the tent can't blow away with all four of us in it, right?

Friday: we collect everything we need: tent, sleeping bags, thermarests, yadda yadda. The boys have never been quicker to help than when we asked them to get everything together in one place. Weather forecast: 30% chance of thunderstorms. Hmm. We can take our chances with that, since 30% chance of storms means 70% chance of no storms.

Saturday morning. We pack up the car. The boys are racing to put stuff in the trunk as fast as they can, and they're both itching to buckle up 30 minutes before it's time to go. Just to be on the safe side, we check the weather forecast: 70% chance of storms. Severe thunderstorms. BH and I dance around the issue of whether or not we're really going to pitch the tent and pretend we're going to camp, or whether we're going to crush two weeks of anticipation while the sun is still shining. We give the boys a heads-up that weather might end our trip early.

Saturday afternoon: Keep checking the clouds rolling in. No towering thunderheads, no sign of rain, just a lovely afternoon for fishing, grilling, and other fun stuff. Might be a good night for camping, after all.

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Saturday evening: Burgers for dinner, and the first sign of some seriously dark clouds on the way. News from someone with a decent data connection that a severe storm's about an hour away. Twenty minutes later, huge drops begin to fall, each one wetting a quarter-sized spot on the ground (I'm only exaggerating a tiny bit). We scramble to collect our stuff and hike to the car.

The drops are so cold and so big they feel like hail (the 6YO is convinced they are, until we tell him they're far too wet and don't hurt nearly enough to be hail). By the time we reach the car, we're completely drenched. BH starts the car and we head home.

The world turns gray. Wind buffets the car, driving rain in a constant onslaught against the driver's side. Then the clatter-thunk of hail joins the thrum of rain. Hail stones slide down the windows until they're bounced off by splashes of rain. Ahead of us, the painted line on the road disappears. We see an oncoming car's headlights only when it's about 20 feet away. The slightly rutted road starts flooding.

I spot a stand of trees on the left side of the road and tell BH to pull over next to it. He does, and we wait out the worst part of the storm in the shelter of the trees. Once we can see the road again, we continue on. On the other side of the lake, the roads are dry -  the storm hadn't gone that far south.

So much for our sun, sun, sun.

I blame the tent.


12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great adventure anyway!

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  2. Carrie Amos-MarchalMay 21, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Oh Alison, you're bringing back childhood nightmares for me. I hate Colorado camping for the simple fact that EVERY time we went, it snowed.

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    1. I guess I can be thankful we didn't encounter a snow storm! :D

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  3. Oh dear. Been there and done that. Since, moving to CO. I have learned that it is okay to pack up and head home if wind or storms come up and have done this 2x in 2 years. Glad your adventure ended up with everyone safe.

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    1. Yes, definitely better to be safe, and we've got the whole summer ahead of us. Next time we'll do a short-notice trip, when there's zero chance of rain and we know the forecast is a good one!

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  4. It's so heartbreaking when you have to cancel something that the kiddos have been looking forward to. But as you said, there's still the whole summer stretching ahead!

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    1. Yes! Although given the weather where we are, and the rain-attracting properties of the tent, we might look into renting a cabin instead. :)

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  5. Oh, I can't help it, but I must laugh. Sorry, it is a little funny.

    Did you not have a tarp to cover a picnic table? Couldn't you wait out the storm in the tent and/or car? This year marks our 3rd or 4th year in a row going camping with the family. We go twice a year, but we also cheat because we only travel 10-15 minutes from the house to get to the site. Our first campout? Rain. No tarp. Second campout? Rain. No tarp. Third? No rain, but we had a tarp. Fourth? A monsoon! Thankfully, we have never experience hail.

    Hope it was still "fun" despite all the setbacks, etc.

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    1. It's okay to laugh. It's one of those experiences you look back on with fondness. :) And it was still fun, just not in the way we'd envisioned.

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  6. This sounds like so many of my camping trips - has me wondering if you live in Utah...that seems to be my luck more often than not.

    I love the way you shared this story - just found your blog. I look forward to what you have to share - new follower :)

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    1. Hi Tasha, thanks for following! We're not in Utah. Head east along Tornado Alley and take a left at the far edge of the Plains. :)

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