Camping and Anxiety, Part II
Well I went fucking camping.
Memorial Day weekend. Husband (R) was DETERMINED to make camping a thing. The forecast? Possibly dangerous. Listen, we live in the plains, aka tornado alley, when I say dangerous I mean it. BUUTTT like all things weather, it wasn't a guarantee. To be fair, he gave me notice AND agreed to use a checklist. To be even more fair, I warned him it was an epic mistake.
Thursday, May 23, 2019. This is the spawns’ (D1 and D2) last day of school, and a half day. While they are at school we pack up the truck, and I warn R several times over that even a small chance of damaging storms is too much of chance when camping IN A TENT. He distracts me with lists and organization, and drat, it totally worked. I did demand that we buy some stronger stakes for the tent, and waterproofing spray, just to be sure. Next thing I know, we are on our way to southern Nebraska with the dog and the boys. As we check in to the campground, I ask the lady where the safest place to go if “shit hits the fan”, she informed me it was the shower houses. But she scoffed as she said it and I then think maybe they aren't so safe. Either way, anything with a roof is an improvement so after a squinty look at her urging an elaboration I didn’t get, we went about our day.
As we arrived at our campsite, I realize there is no bathroom. Why? Because he booked an RV site. There was JUST enough room to tent it, but the shower house is our restroom, and it is 1/4 mile away down a steep incline. R knows he has made an error and begins to question the camping. I check out the wood line, I am NOT above peeing in the woods, but it is totally dense with poison ivy, so I know I will be getting my steps in. I should have called it right then and there, but I didn't want to be blamed for ruining the fun camping weekend over a bathroom. We set camp, I obsessively watch the radar. We prepare and eat dinner, then decide on a family stroll after cleaning up.
Around 8 pm, after dinner, we walked down to the restrooms and also to play at the park for a minute. The deer were rushing about despite people, never a good sign. I told R we needed to get back up the hill and secure the camp, since the deer were being weird, and the radar was menacing. He headed up first to get started and I stayed with D2 while he used the bathroom again. When I finally got up the hill, R tells me the neighbors were actively fighting off trash pandas from our site when he and D1 got back. There was no food out left out when we left, but those little bastards know the game. IT WASN’T EVEN DARK. We put a tarp on the bikes and got everything except for one cooler and one table into the truck. No food in the tent.
Just at 9 the rain began with some lighter thunder, an awe inspiring light show in the distance though. We get in our tent just in time for the rain to really get going. IMMEDIATELY after zipping the flaps the trash panda apocalypse descended upon us. They were screaming and battling each other. My dog was terrified, the kids were too. Those little masked assholes were tearing up the whole place. They managed to get into the one cooler, only making things so much worse. There was one, and only one, food item in there and now they smelled blood. Then the storms decided to kick up to level 10. Ridiculous lightning, earth shaking thunder, and every time it would just lull a bit, and I'd start to doze, TRASH PANDA THUNDERDOME BATTLE. The little buggers were relentless. I got up and secured that stupid cooler, thoughtlessly putting it on D2’s booster seat. The boys managed to fall asleep, but me? No sleep. None. Storms and trash battles raging into the night isn’t my idea of a lullaby.
At 4:35 am we heard something strange, sounding like high pitched wind. R gets up with me and we frantically try and see what the status of the storms were on our phones. It must have been a county over, and we were just hearing the end of their sirens in the distance, because at 4:45 our campground got lit up. Sirens start blaring, torrential downpours, D2 is freaking out. I tell D1 and D2 to put on their shoes and run for the truck, so we can get them to safety. D2 screams that he can’t get in and I remember that gods forsaken cooler. I pull the it out of his seat and all of the ice water soaks me. Obviously we didn't have time to grab blankets and such. The camp circle we are on is one way only, so technically we have no choice but to go the whole way around the block. The rain is coming down so hard we can't even see the road, so we were driving on memory, and distant tail lights of other fleeing campers, all the way around to the shower house, where everyone is congregating from our loop. D2 and I are soaked all the way through and shaking violently. It's not warm, like 50 degrees Fahrenheit . We stay there until the sirens end, and the emergency broadcast says we are clear.
5:15 am we go back to the tent, storm is just absolutely raging. At 7 am it tapered off just enough so I started mad tearing it down. We managed to get out of there around 8. D1, being a teen, thought this was awesome. He has a war story for his peers, D2 is “never going camping again, and will always listen to mommy”, R made large promises of me being in charge forever now, and my idiot dog doesn’t know what a trash panda is, but she hates them and hasn’t left my side, she is so loyal. I think camping season may be over here for a bit. -Suzanne