Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Griswold Family Camping Trip

He said: "I think we need to get away for a few days."

She said: "Yes!!! Let's go to Disneyland!"

He said: "I was thinking we would go camping."

She said (fighting the disappointment that filled her voice): "Camping?"

He said: "Yes, I think some time in the outdoors will do us wonders. And I would love to fish. And just think - s'mores every night!" (He doesn't like s'mores - but he knows she does.)

She said: "Well, camping is alot of work - but if you really want to . . ."

And that's how it happened.

So we borrowed an older, very large camper and began to fill it up with blankets and sheets, towels and soaps, clothes and jackets, food and more food, fishing equipment and books, lawnchairs and bar-b-que grills, and more baby items that they can stock at Babies Are Us for sweet little Miss Ava Claire. We loaded up Buddy the mutt, two yorkies, and my daughter's two chihuahua's.

And we were off. We chose to ignore the huge black clouds forming above us.

Chuck and I drove the truck and camper and my mom followed us in her car with Andrea, Jess and Miss Ava Claire. We left about 4:00 in the afternoon anticipating a 6:30 arrival at the campground of a lake we had not been to.

About 15 miles later the camper blew a tire.

We all pile out of the vehicles to watch Chuck change the tire. We are nothing if not good support people! Suddenly a huge wind began to blow and the heavens opened. It took just long enough to change that tire to get wet and blown with dirt.


So off we went. Again. Just a tad bit deflated - but still somewhat optimistic. As we got closer to the lake we pulled over to fill the camper with water. It was then we discovered that the water tank had a leak. A substantial leak. So Chuck tried to fix it. Again, the moral support team took their responsiblilty seriously and we all stood around him offering great advice like, "Maybe some bubble gum would plug that leak?"

Suddenly a large gust of wind hit and blew the camper door so hard that it knocked my poor mother inside the camper. And the heavens opened. Mom was thankfully not hurt. We all got wet. And we never could plug that hole.

So off we went. Again.

We arrived at the lake about 9:00 that evening only about 2 1/2 hours off schedule. It was dark with rain pouring. We could see just well enough to make out a sign that said CAMPGROUND CLOSED FOR RENOVATION.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Realizing that if one of us gave in to frustration we would all become frustrated we all tried to put a positive spin on the situation. We decided to camp along the side of the road and access our situation in the morning. So we all got ready for bed and listened to the hard pounding soft pitter patter of the rain against the top of the camper. Trying hard not to pay attention to the odor of wet dog.

Morning came and it was still raining. Hard. In fact my mom and Jess woke up wet because apparently the ceiling had a leak in it. We made breakfast and talked about what to do. We decided that we would travel on to Silver Creek Plunge - although it was quite out of our way, Silver Creek features a great pool filled with natural hot water from the springs - it would be perfect if the weather stayed rainy. We could just hang out in the pool.

So off we went. Again.

We stopped off in a town with a hardware store so Chuck could repair the water tank leak. The moral support team decided to take the opportunity to do a little shopping as Chuck seemed to resist all our good ideas. Soon we were all ready, filled with water, and in good spirits again. We made our way through the mountains enjoying the beauty of late spring. The rivers were HIGH and moving fast.
We soon turned off onto the road that would lead us to our final destination. The last nine miles were narrow, curvy, and steep. But at last we made it and set up camp. Whew! It was good to be somewhere.

By the way, it was still pouring rain. Do you have any idea how hard it is to start a fire in the pouring rain? We finally prevailed - but trust me - we were all wet and muddy by this time. And the dogs were soaked and muddy too. It was just a tad harder to stay optimistic. But we were away from the routine and doing something different so we might as well make the best of it. My son-in-law Jayson came and joined us on this evening - he had work/school responsilities that had kept him from joining us at the start. After spending the evening in the hot pool - which felt wonderful - we made s'mores and then we got ready for bed. And we listened to the pounding pitter patter of the rain falling all night long.

We woke up Saturday morning and it was still raining. Mom and Jess were wet again. The repair job we did with a garbage bag and 10 inches of duct tape didn't work very well. We worked hard at getting the fire going again and made a wonderful outdoor breakfast of sausage and eggs and toast. I soon realized it was just not going to work having these very furry dogs in the rain and the dirt all weekend. So we set up a grooming station on the picnic table and Andrea set to work. Nobody lets me cut hair - I have a history of making my poor yorkies look like yaks. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Andrea is really good at dog grooming - yay! It made a world of difference and they looked great.

The rain continued and by Saturday eveing we had had enough. We were struggling to find optimism. We decided we would go home the next day. We all went to bed and listened the the poundingpitter patter of the rain falling on the camper.

We woke up Sunday morning and it was obvious right away that something was wrong. It was too quiet. And what in the world was that sound coming from the forest? Birds singing? Impossible! But it was true - the rain had quit and the sun was shining. We all rubbed the sleep from our eyes - heck, we were packed tight enough in that camper we could have rubbed the sleep from each others eyes. We went outside and marveled at the beautiful blue sky. We decided to make breakfast, have our church service and then decide how to proceed. The sky continued to be blue and we decided to stay. We hiked, we fished, we swam, we read books, we played. Miss Ava Claire delighted us to no end. It was a good day. A very good day. We all longed to be able to wash our hair as we had gone about three days now so after being inspired by the grooming station, we set up a beauty shop. We washed each others hair and it felt so grand!
And for the first time we all went to bed in a quiet camper. Sweet Ava slept all night in her little "moses basket". What an angel she is! When she wakes up in the morning she just lays there talking to her fingers and her bunny and her blankets! There isn't enough money in the world to buy something that sweet!

Monday arrived and it was time to go home. We decided that after breakfast we would take one final hike, have lunch, and then get on our way home. We planned to be home around 4:00.

We packed up and again Chuck and I took the camper and truck with mom following behind with the girls. About 4 miles down the treacherous road I noticed mom was not behind us. We couldn't pull over - the road was too narrow - but we stopped, expecting her to show up. She never did. We had no idea what could have happened - how we could have lost them in four miles on a road that had no other way to go. We both tried hard not to think of what we were both thinking but couldn't say. We both knew the only other place they could have gone was over the edge of the road. Chuck told me to stay with the rig and he would walk back four miles looking for them. Great. Nerves set in and I had to um, use the facilities. So I spotted a bush and began climbing straight uphill. Let's just say it didn't work too well. It was when I was on my way back down I realized what an idiot I was - good grief - I had the camper I could have used! Stress does weird things to a person. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Finally Chuck came back with no idea where they were - but he felt fairly confident they hadn't gone off the road. He had made it about 3 miles back when a car came by and he decided to catch a ride back to me. We took the truck and camper down the final 5 miles and got out to unhitch the camper from the truck. I was to stay in the camper looking for them in case they drove by and Chuck was driving back up to the campground to see if they had left the campground the wrong way. Of course, as we were unhitching the camper - the heavens opened. We were drenched.

About 45 minutes later, I heard a car and I was so relieved to see it was my mom's car. As they were leaving the campground, they realized they had a flat tire. They never were behind us! Andrea had to change the tire and Chuck met them coming down as he was going up. Nobody cared - everybody was all right and that was all that mattered.

We finally made it home around 9:00 that evening. Only five hours behind schedule. We emptied the camper - cleaned the camper - and began the endless piles of laundry.

Next time ---- I'm going to Disneyland!


Dawn said...

Oh my word! I would never have lasted through that ordeal. Perfect title. Great narrative! You are good. I can't even imagine!! I'm with you on Disneyland. Or at least a motel in McCall! That would be my worst nightmare. I don't even like the thought of camping, and that would have sealed the deal forever.

It does remind me of some of our trips as kids - only ours weren't that dramatic. It's bringing back memories, though!

Becky said...

You could not PAY ME ENOUGH MONEY to go camping. We tried ... the Butler and me ... once. We set up the tent, made a fire, and then decided to go to a motel. We said, "I won't tell anyone if you won't tell anyone." And so we did.

Karen said...

I've been camping my whole life and I don't think I've ever had that much adventure on one trip! I loved this story! Grooming the yorkies so they looked like yaks (ROFL!) The last picture of Ava Claire is just too cute. She's a doll.

Michelle said...

That is so funny! Poor Dad, he has been working on you to go camping again for ever and now you will never go again:) But I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventure. Especially the part about Andrea changing a tire!

gail@more than a song said...

Oh bless your heart! I loved the title and laughed just reading it. Camping IS a lot of work, I'm with you on Disneyland! We used to tent camp with our 4 kids and one year it rained every single day, everything in the tent was wet and it was hard to dry out. I'm sorta glad to be done with the camping for now!

gail@more than a song said...

and p.s.....I bet y'all will remember this trip for a long time and really have some great memories from it! It's adventures like those that are fun when y'all get together and talk about it.

Glenda said...

You really ought to write a book!! Funny, funny story!

Dawn said...

I linked back to you in my totally different kind of camping story!

Dawn said...

Re your comment - I'm the one second from the left with the white shorts - not really shorts, but can't remember what we called them in those days - not pedal pushers, not Bermuda shorts.

I always was homesick the first day, didn't like my cabin, wanted to be with someone else. But by dinnertime, I was always in the groove again.

I had Dwight read your post - he really enjoyed it. Says we're going camping soon. My response to that - "Ha! Obviously you didn't read my comment to her!)

Anonymous said...

Mom you left out the part when we discovered grandmas flat tire that she starting chasing after you. I called after her telling her to get back here I will chase you, and I did. I ran and ran. Then dad waved his hand out the window before he turned out of the campground so I stopped thinking he saw me. And then there he went pulling out on the road leaving me, grandma, andrea, and your grandbaby to change a tire. oh boy!

Barb said...

I laughed 'til I cried, reading this. "The heavens opened." LOL I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I've gone on rainy camping trips like this and I know that once you get wet, you pretty much stay wet until you get back home.

I have to say though, I never did it with five dogs! The grooming station was genius and that photo of your Yorkies looking out the screen is one of the cutest you've ever posted.

What a trip. As miserable as some of it sounds, I can tell from the final photos that you all really did enjoy it. For the most part.

And I'm very glad you found your mom. :-)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tale of adventure! It is interesting how everything seems much funnier now that when I was experiencing it(flat tire on a busy highway and laying on back under the trailor in a lake of water, plugging a leak. lol). You are a wonderful writer honey. Love ya,Chuck

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