Mud, mud, glorious mud* -- Days 3 &4 of our camping odyssey

(This is an old post, but couldn't think of a better one to fit the category and link up to, "No more perfect vacations".)

Much of our campsite looked like this after several days of rain.  It was the kind of mud that is so thick and oozy that it could pull off the shoes of an unsuspecting person.  (And now you can understand why the babies stayed strapped into their chairs for nearly the entire trip.)  But I get ahead of myself.

After a soggy night, the next morning was dry if not sunny.  We spent a good deal of the morning hanging things up to dry out and working on making the living situations a bit more waterproof.  Due to the wonders of technology, we knew we were not done with the rain yet.  A brother-in-law had an iPhone and was tracking a storm, much larger than the one we just had, which was coming directly for us.  Heavy rain, wind, and possible tornadoes were forecast for late in the afternoon/early evening.  But we were ready.  Tents were covered, things were dried, and we planned a very early dinner so we could be done eating by the time the storm hit.  Boy, were we glad we did.  It came with very little warning and hit at full force.  We had just finished tucking children into tents and getting things under cover when the rain came down.  Well, not down so much as sideways.  The winds were incredible.  Poor little L., who we thought was OK being under the dining fly, got a second drenching in so many days, due to both the rain blowing in and the dining fly being nearly carried away.  This was a heavy-duty fly and not overly light and the wind picked it up and would have taken it to the next county if several adults hadn't been standing under it and been able to grab a leg to hold it down.  The tents looked as though they would have collapsed if there hadn't been children in them to hold it down.  It was fairly intense.

The wind let up a bit, L got dried off and tucked into bed, and the adults (plus B., who was incredible help on this trip) were standing under the fly continuing to do the dinner dishes, when out of the woods appeared a very wet P. coming for help.  In the wind a branch had broken off of a tree, fell on the girls' tent, and hit A. on the head.  A. and their cousin were very upset and so P. took it upon herself to go get help.  (P. is the child you want in a crisis; I've never seen her panic.)  B. followed P. back to the tent to see what the situation was.  It seems there was a very dead tree right by the tent and a fairly large branch was blown off.  The tent the girls were in had rigid metal poles instead of shock cord and the metal broke the fall of the tree a bit so A.'s head did not receive the full force of the impact.  There is a significant dent in the pole, though.  B. saw they were alright, helped them find their flashlight and headed back with P. following along.  It wasn't until everything was OK and P. was back with us that she allowed herself to break down.  She was very brave.  We are still watching her process the whole event even now; crayons and paper can be good therapy.

As soon as the storm started it was over.  The entire storm lasted maybe 45 minutes, tops.  It was only 6pm and still light.  We had no choice but to let all of the children, who we had put to bed, back out of their tents.  So we made a fire and had some more s'mores.

The next day, we woke to more rain.  Many of us were done with rain, particularly when thinking about the prospect of eating breakfast in the rain.  So we all loaded in the car and drove to Pennsylvania for breakfast.  That's where the closest breakfast restaurant happened to be and the staff was quite accommodating to a group of 8 slightly damp and grubby campers who happened to have 17 children in tow.

By lunchtime the rain had finally left for good.  We could finally engage in more traditional camping activities.  Such as fishing:

To be continued (the really nice day)...

* From the Hippopotamus Song by Flanders and Swann.  If you've never heard of them or their music, you should really check it out.


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