Monday, June 28, 2010

camping's as fun as you'd expect

Packed, caffeinated, The Great Brain in the CD player and sunscreened, Team Testosterone and I caravaned to the Wisconsin Dells. My sons were duly impressed by the roller coasters, go-carts and water park. Especially the wave pool. Imagine an 8 foot wave crashing down onto crowds of screaming, jumping, joyful people. Team Testosterone couldn't get enough. If you've never seen a wave pool in action, here's a video some stranger took and helpfully posted on You Tube. What it doesn't capture is the bungee jumpers overhead or the ginormous waterslides directly behind the tidal wave. Total chaos, total fun, total craziness.




We left the park and found our delightful little campground. The mosquitoes were out in force, but the campground had mini golf, a nice pool and a bath house with flush toilets and showers. I pitched tents for me and my boys, rolled out our sleeping bags, reapplied OFF and enjoyed the Scoutmaster's walking tacos before volunteering to lifeguard for a gang of 20 Scouts and siblings at the pool.

When the kids were waterlogged again and thoroughly exhausted and famished, we returned to the campsites to enjoy a fire and S'mores. Mr. B and Mr. G went to their tents and were dead to the world within minutes. By 10:30 my head lolled back in my lawn chair and I contemplated the status of my bladder. If I went to bed right away, I'd surely wake up in the middle of the night and have to hike back up the hill to those flush toilets. And the mosquitoes would still be out in force. The one girl-sibling was sitting behind me and I mentioned my conundrum. "I was thinking the same thing," she said.
"Let's go now together."

Halfway to the toilets a rumble sounded in the distance. A moment later a flash of lightning illuminated our path.

"Ummm, it's not supposed to rain," I said. "I checked three weather forecasts to be sure. No way would I agree to camp overnight in a tent if there was a chance of rain."

The girl flipped open her phone and looked up a weather radar. Next to our location we saw a blob of green the size of Idaho. Green blobs mean rain. Dead center in that green blog was a red blob the size of West Virginia--heading directly for us. Red blobs mean severe storms. "Okay, now that's not fair."

Back at the campsites I heard the Scoutmaster checking on the weather report. He returned to tell us severe thunderstorms were going to hit us in 7 minutes. We could sleep in tents in the rain, but not in a lightning storm.

Of course.

In pitch darkness I began packing and hauling, rolling and stuffing the sleeping bags, beach towels, lawn chairs, tents and children into the Momvan. By the time I reached for Mr. G's peacefully sleeping body, rain was pelting down on us. I couldn't wake Mr. B for any amount of money. Pulling him across the bottom of his tent, I wrapped him in a beach towel and stumbled with him to the Momvan. By the time I got his tent and sleeping bag shoved into the back, the rain was pounding us.

I drove 3 sleeping boys home through a fierce storm in the middle of the night. The lightning! The rain! I nervously kept watch on the temperature--any sharp drop would mean tornado weather. Thank God that never happened. At 1:30 I carried the boys one by one up to their beds and tucked them in. The storm ceased 5 exits before the one to our house. Of course.

The boys awoke discombobulated and wondering why they weren't in tents. Mr. G was upset he wouldn't get to have Lucky Charms for breakfast (not an option at home, but the Boy Scouts pack it on camping trips). In summary, a great trip with a bad ending. Would I be brave enough to do it again? I think I would.

24 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! Well I am glad everyone ended up safe and sound. The storms were so bad in Chicago too. What is with all the extreme weather this year?

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  2. Oh, that is such a drag! I've been camping in a storm... VERY exciting! No sleep at all, and every single thing soaking wet by morning.

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  3. The last time we camped (12 years ago), we had a terrible storm the first night...I was crying about wanting a hotel and my husband kept saying "we don't leave campsites"...obviously we never left, but I haven't been back eithe!

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  4. Bummer..Now I get it when you said you were home by 1:30..not on Sat afternoon, but Sat. am

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  5. Oh, stinking storm!!! The weather dudes have gotten it all wrong around here. When they say it is supposed to storm it doesn't and when they say it won't is does. BAH!

    I CAN NOT WAIT until the kids are a big older so we can take them to Noah's Ark. That was one of my very favorite places when I was younger and you just got me all excited about it again. And that campground sounds awesome! Well, minus the bugs.

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  6. Alas, the times, they are a changin'! I remember when Wisconsin Dells was all about Indians, Ducks, a German Sheperd rock-jumping, wishes being granted at Storybook Gardens, Black Bart's escapades, Sitting in a tilted chair on a wall at The Wonder Spot, Dancing Waters, and then, watching my Knuckle Matt unsuccessfully scrape the ad-bumper sticker off our car bumper that Tommy Bartlett's people stuck to it while we were enjoying the show the night before!

    It sounds like you and your family had a great time, too! (But things have changed up quite a bit since the Stone Age. Yes, I am a fossil. LOL!)

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  7. Goodness! Do they give scout badges to mom's? If not, they certainly should. Glad you made it home safely!

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  8. Aw man, that's no fair.
    You must be exhausted.

    One of my childhood camping memories that my brother and I still recall is the night we listened to a rainstorm in our pop up camper as the family in the next spot over tried to put their tent together for the first time. "Put pole A in slot B."
    Lightning, however, is scary.

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  9. The last time I camped was about 8 years ago with some of my college team mates. I slept in a tent with 3 other girls and we woke up in a puddle of water. literally! I guess we chose a bad spot to tent. Needless to say i was so cold by 8 am that we packed up and left before most of the other campers were even awake. Now we have the 5th wheel, which I guess is technically cheating but I'm much happier :)

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  10. So sorry that your weekend didn't go as planned.

    You must be Super Woman to have packed all that up in seven minutes and then dragged sleeping boys to the car. I'm impressed.

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  11. I am in awe. You are Super Mom. If all had gone according to plan, it would've made for less Wow in the telling.

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  12. When we went on our 24 day trip a few years ago, we set up camp in Arches only to be pelted in no time with a huge "yes, it rains in the desert" rain and sand storm. Incredible. We watched a neighbor's tent unhook and go sailing through the air. But it was really fun.

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  13. Gah, the worst part about camping in the rain is having to set the tent BACK UP at home to let it dry before storing. Yuck!

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  14. See, this is why my idea of roughing it is no room service.

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  15. You just have to focus on the story you get out of it--and this is a great one!

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  16. That's a shame! I'm glad you had such a great time before all the calamity. I could feel your pain reading about that pack-up and night drive. Yay you to be willing to get back on the horse!

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  17. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, AAAAAUGH!

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  18. oooooooh!!!! BUM.MER!!! I've had my share of rainy camping trips too! I'm officaily retired from camping now! It's just tooooo much work for the mom...before, during and after!

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  19. We call that a swimming coma, the kids are impossible to wake. Glad you made it home. I think I would have slept in the van. I don't like to drive in the dark or in the rain.

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  20. Growing up in a family with 9 kids - camping was what we did for all our vacations. Now, I prefer the comfort of a cozy bed, thunder storms watched through a window, and rain only as the pitter-patter on a roof

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  21. There's nothing like packing up a tent in the middle of the night in the pouring rain...

    And I learned a new word: discombobulated. Thanks! :-)

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  22. What an adventure! I'm glad to hear everyone is ok! =)

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  23. Unbelievable. As I was reading your post, I was thinking, what? did they spend the night in the van then? And then of course the Arkansas camping tragedies entered my mind and how close were you to the WI River and Lake Delton? What you left out that makes the story more dramatic and what people reading this post from outside WI wouldn't understand is that it was a 2 hour drive home under normal conditions on mostly 2 lane highways and not an easy drive AT NIGHT IN THE RAIN when you have been in the sun ALL DAY chasing BOYS! So I think you deserve a mother of the year award!

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  24. Quite an adventure!

    What campground did you go to? We've been thinking of getting up to the Dells this summer. I'd rather do camping than a hotel.

    Feel free to email if you'd prefer: ashjray@gmail.com :)

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Spill it, reader.