It says in the scriptures that in the last days the hearts of men will fail them. Perhaps that is because the last days will involve a lot of camping. Anyone who has been camping much at all will agree. Up until now our worst camping trip was the doomed Alpine trip of 06. It ended up with a ride on a tow truck, a train and a few buses. The children look back at the trip with childlike wonder, which always has Chris and I smiling and rolling our eyes. We remember Chris’ long hike to find a cell phone friendly place, the long wait for the truck, and of course the nightmare trip home with Chris in the tow truck and me with 7 little children (and an angel cousin Michelle). I don’t suggest attempting to catch trains or buses with little children. Nursing twins on public transportation is it’s own unique experience. We did have lots of help along the way; kind people lifting our double stroller, racing ahead to hold the bus and coming to pick us up on the last leg to avoid a long wait and another bus. That camping trip was bad but fun to look back on. That camping trip was a pleasure cruise compared to this.
We had planned to drive about 6 hours to meet Chris near his job interview and scout out the area. We had chosen a more urban campsite with wifi and a pool. It is called Midessa Oil Patch. That should have been our first clue. Who names a campground after an oil patch? That’s not exactly inviting. We arrive at our oil patch after a benign 8 hour journey and start to set up our tents. Well first we pay for another campsite because although the internet said 10 people per site what they really meant was 5. The guy cuts us a deal and we head to the site. There he explains that the proximity to the bathroom is good at these sites (100 ft), but it is a lower part of the campground and if it were to rain that could be bad. I jokingly asked how badly they needed rain…if they need it badly we’ll camp here and bring it on. The higher ground tent sites are about 200 yards from the bathroom and in the middle of the night with 3year olds? That’s not reasonable. We gamble and take the low sites offered. Next he asks if we stake our tents…um yes I say, wondering how else one sets up a tent. He goes on to show me all the areas which have utilities close to the ground and cannot be staked…which leaves us one of three tent spots available for staking. What’s going to happen? I wonder to myself. Our tents aren’t exactly going to blow away with us in them. Kalani wanted to bring Grandma’s A frame tent, so that gets the “staking” plot and we set things up. I set the doesn’tfitourfamily tent under the shade thing provided because it’s rain fly is missing and the shade thing should cover us as long as the rain isn’t seriously sideways right?
At this point the thoughtful reader knows what will actually happen. You’ve all seen dumb comedies staring chevy chase and goldie hawn. You know all these comments are not logical thinking but foreshadowing of future events. Now that you know what will happen you hope it plays out in an entertaining fashion and there are a few interesting twists. But this is our life so we aren’t expecting the comedy gods to take some sort of Truman show like interest in us, so we go blissfully on our way.
Chris arrives and we all change in to swimsuits and enjoy a fabulous swim. The water was perfect. The pool had a great shallow end which Ben particularly enjoyed. He’s more of a runner than a swimmer, because swimming involved actually getting your face….wet. Abi loves water. She is also an independent little soul who doesn’t really want help. She climbs down the steps into the water and is then frustrated when you attempt to hold her before she takes the final leap. I’m not sure what her plan is, but ours is that she NOT drown. Anyway swimming. Fun.
Next we eat, again, and break out the glow sticks. Swirling, light saber fights racing around and general glowing fun is had by all. [Calm before the storm, introduce the family, and set up the action…everything right on schedule comedy gods.]
We settle everyone down and after much shushing and singing we finally get the littles to sleep. GREAT! It’s 11 and we need to talk. We sit in his car and plug in the computer. How was his interview? What does he think about this job or the other one? Frogville or near big blast off? We began pros and cons and salary and compensation and etc. We had a lot to talk about but after just a few minutes we noticed the lightening. No problem. It’ll be a thunderstorm and the chance of rain is only 20 percent. We had bigger problems like how to get the wifi working when we don’t have a contact number for the oil people.
Then the front of the storm hit. It was a doozy. Texas does do everything bigger and that whole wind sweeping down the plains thing? It’s not just for Oklahoma. Over my shoulder Chris sees the “family” tent starting to take off. It only has the three little girls in it, so he hops out and runs over to climb in and hold the tent. Over his shoulder I see the wind whipping the A frame and I know it’s going to collapse because that is what A frame tents do best. It collapsed before I got there. The wind is picking up and the rain that looked so minor on the windshield is pelting. I quickly realize I can’t fix the tent until the storm dies down so I decide to look in on the girls to see how they are doing. As I unzip it occurs to me that the material that tents are made of and the material of parachuts are very similar. With the tent open, it catches the wind and clearly my three oldest girls don’t weigh enough. I try to close it up, hold it down and am meanwhile pelted with hail now. Seriously comedy gods? Hail? Hail hurts. “Forget this” I say, we’re getting into the van. I splash back to the family tent (at least 3 inch deep puddles by now) and ask for my keys. Chris hands me becca’s glasses and I say no put those back where they’ll be safe in the tent pocket (wave goodbye to glasses audience). The older girls run to the tent, dodging hail and I fold up the A frame and stick it on the picnic table.
Chris had been planning to ride the storm out in the tent, hoping the three sleeping girls would stay quiet, we’re campers, we can do it. I inform him of lake oilpatch so we begin to formulate an evacuation plan. I carry the younger girls to the car in the hail. We take a few bags and such out of the family tent and plan again. The hail is stopped but the rain is relentless. Now that the incredible shrieking girls (none of whom was louder than me) are in the van, we are calm. You can only get so wet. Once your eyelashes are dripping and everything on you is soaked , that’s really as wet as you can get.
We get the boys. They were just hanging out in their tent enjoying the show. They stumble into the van. Now what? We decide to fold up the tents, stuff and all and just cram them into the back of the van. We have enough adrenaline that we may get a head start on our long drive. It is about this time that we realize two things. First of all playing in the rain is fun once the children are all snuggly in the van, and secondly we have key trouble. Somehow during all of the carrying of children and smushing of tents one key has fallen off the key ring I’m holding. I didn’t put my keys in my pockets because I’m wearing pajamas and it is well documented that pajamas don’t need pockets. Which of my keys has fallen off? The van key. Chris only has the keys to the rental car (because I lost his keys last week-Hello my name is britt I can’t keep track of keys-but hey, normally I don’t lose them WHILE I’m holding them). Oh and where are Chris’ keys? He had put them down in the tent when he was holding it. Apparently neither of us can keep track of keys. His keys are now stuffed in the van with the wet, muddy tents. Of course we put that tent in first so that would mean it’s on the bottom. Oh and Becca’s glasses are also in the tent.
So much for singing in the rain. Into the tent muck I go. After a good thirty minutes of searching I found the keys. HURRAH! But Becca’s glasses are still missing. Who leaves $300 dollars just lying in the tent…then again I have frequently wondered who in their right mind would hand their 3 year old $300, but what do you do, we do want her to see things.
We had called AAA and they will be able to replace the Van key in the morning. We shuffle around in the muck hoping for a sight of silver, picking up whatever has blown around in the scramble, then give up. We change into “dry clothes”.
We shuttle everyone to a hotel and collapse on the bed. The children are full of adrenaline and not at all willing to sleep. Finally at 3am we settle down.
We get up and get ready to go to breakfast. There is a morning after realization that what you think you need at 3am (nothing but a hot shower and a bed) and what you actually want when you wake up the next day (at least dry shoes!) are different. Not even one third of us had shoes and only one pair of shoes were dry (Hi Natalie! Good thinking!) Most of us were stuck in pajamas
Just for the record leather clogs chafe when they are soaking wet. After breakfast we all feel a bit better and the children and I check out the KID DOME! (exclamation mark their’s I only felt much excitement for SLEEP! Or BED!)
There was a play structure (like a McDonalds thing), miniature golf, ping pong and a pool. This kept us busy and happy (aside from the great Abi diaper escape).
Meanwhile back at the campground Chris was surveying the damage, airing things out to dry and looking for the van key. Much of the water was gone but the key was still not to be found. Wonderful AAA guy came and brought us a replacement key. We hurriedly checked out of the hotel, packed up the semi dry stuff and took off on an eight hour drive-which really was quite a pleasure compared to the camping trip.
Looking back we can be grateful for a few things. We did not fall face first in the muck (ha take that comedy gods). We have eight wonderful children who both complicate things and greatly increase the joy. Chris found the glasses the next morning as he was airing out the tents. The comedy gods left us alone for the drive.
The greatest casualty was most likely Kalani’s scriptures. She had left them in the van and we nicely placed mucky tents practically on top of them. Grandma’s A frame tent also died. Somewhere in the wind or hefting it ripped in quite a few places. That’s okay though because A frames require stakes and really who stakes their tents anyway?
As we drove away we asked the children if this was a sign that everything was happening so we would be stuck here, or everything was happening to drive us away…what do you think?