Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Camp Tales IX: I'll Take Some Rain With My Fries

This is what you call a flooded, and evacuated campsite--in case you're wondering.

Summer 2011 has to be the most annoying and wet summer ever. Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain!

So when Dooder's and mine vacation rolled around this year, we were like, "Yippee! We can drive away from all this rain!"

It started off hopeful in Firehole Canyon, WY--dry and windy. Then it rained. It was charming and mildly amusing at first, a few drops splattering here and there. We nobly threw up a tarp over our picnic area and waited it out--until the lightning started. We actually dropped what we were doing and ran to the car.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" I screamed as lightning struck about 100 feet from our car, causing my hair to stand on end. Laughter ensued from the Latinos next to our campsite as apparently it lightnings a lot in Wyoming and they're quite bemused by it.

"I read in the Minnapolis Star that a grandma and her grandson were killed in their Airstream when lightning hit a tree which crashed through their camper," Dooder noted as we hunched under the rain-tarp. "I also read where two campers were electroctued in their tent when," Dooder started.

"I really don't need to hear any more," I interrupted, shifting the tarp so my feet stayed dry.

Then we packed up the next day and drove to Utah praying to Bringham Young for some heat and dryness. To clairify: the days were gorgeous, but the nights? After the second night on top the mountain of continual rain, the bottom campsites actually had to be not only evacuated but sandbagged, complete with state troopers. The "charming" bubbling of the rapids near our tent was replaced by an alarming ROAR. The only thing more terrifying than a bear crashing about near your tent is lightning striking trees next to your tent as you bolt upright, unzipping yourself from your mummy and run kicking and screaming through the slogging mud to the safety of your car.

"AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" we screamed as we ran for the car about the fifth time (beers in hand, as we were getting good at this drill).

After two days of this routine, we broke camp, raging down the mountain, hoping for better weather at Pearl Lake, Steamboat Springs, CO.

The first night was sheer heaven. Stars in the skies, the moon shining on us. Not only were there NO BEARS (allowing me to behave recklessly such as eating jerky in the tent), but there was no rain.

We slept like babes.

Until the next night, that is. We were sitting in the car because, yes, it was raining and lightning again. As I was talking to my new gentleman-friend (yes, you heard that right) on the phone, Dooder slipped me a note:

"Let's blow this popstand. It's gonna pour like crazy any minute."

I read the note and considered the action. Firstly, we're tough campers (remember the bear incident last year?). We don't like to bail. Bailing is for whimps, losers, babies. But our sleeping bags were moist, the rain flies soaked. Even cold beer loses its spark when it's 50 degrees and raining. Cell phone cradled and still listening to my gentleman-friend who was gregariously telling me a story, I penciled back,

"On a scale of 1-100%, how bad do you want to bail?"

She only sighed and wrote, "90%."

I told my man we were bailing and I'd call him back.

Within record speed (12 min. I timed it), we had camp broken down and packed in the car, mud all over everything and gravel flying from under our tires.

Then it proceeded to pour.

Dooder had to drive about 10 mph down a winding treacherous mountain road. We entertained ourselves by hydroplaning into the opposing lane every now and then, mixed with cars blinding us with their brights, the right wheels of the car sinking occasionally into gravel coaxing us into the ditch.

When finally, we reached Steamboat Springs, only to find the only available lodging at . . . The Bates Motel, it was complete with an old German dude playing an accordian at the front desk. Boy, do I know how to pick 'em.

Stay tuned, Folks. There's a part two.

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