Monday, June 22, 2009

When it rains....

It pours! (A little foreshadowing there, to keep you reading...)

This past weekend, we headed to Virginia Beach for a beach getaway at our favorite campground and state park, First Landing. The forecast looked good; the kids were psyched about sleeping in the new tent we got for Christmas, and Jeff and I were excited about sharing the joys of outdoor living with Aidan and Leo. Here you'll find our new, Top 10 Rules of Camping:

Rule #1 of Camping: Expect the unexpected. This ranges from expecting your children to ask "Are we there yet?" before you've reached the gate 1/2 a mile from your house to doing things you swore you would avoid at all costs (more details on that to come.)

Rule #2 of Camping: Put the rain flap on, even if there is not a single cloud in the sky. Miraculously, we followed this rule - but only because we interpreted "rain flap" to be "shade provider" in the blistering sun and muggy heat.

Rule #3 of Camping: Anything you think is really cool and possibly your favorite parts of camping, your children will not agree. Case in point - cooking and eating outdoors. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts. Aidan and Leo were completely nonplussed by the meals we prepared and the cool camping gear we got to use. Instead, they were fascinated with the clothes line hung up for wet towels and the camping trowel formerly used to bury unmentionables when camping backwoods on canoe trips.

Rule #4 of Camping: If you think to yourself, "This is so much fun! Everyone is having the best time! What could possibly go wrong?" pack the car and head home immediately. I think this is what did us in, our fatal error on this trip.

Rule #5 of Camping: If your campsite happens to have showers, go ahead and enjoy them... as long as you're prepared to continue to enjoy the shower long after you've turned off the faucet. Case in point: after hosing down the kids after dinner (they'd been playing too close to poison ivy, and I was envisioning weeks of itchy rashes) we heard a loud PLINK PLINK PLINK on the roof of the shower house. Jeff and I looked at each other in dismay - could it be? - and opened the door to see the deluge that was just the beginning.

Rule #6 of Camping: If there are hotels nearby, forget about even thinking about getting a room. Hotel owners know about desperate campers who hydroplane their way into parking lots after attempting to weather a storm for 3 hours. Not even these desperate campers were willing to fork over $200 - and our pride - for a mediocre room.

Rule #7 of Camping: If said Hotel Room option fails, consider options you never considered before (see rule 1). In our case, it was one of three options. 1. Drive home. (And lose all street cred as campers. No way). 2. Transfer sleeping kids into tent.... and pile them, sandwich style, in order to avoid laying in the gallon-sized puddles lining the sides. 3. Sleep in the - gulp - car all night. We chose option #3, although I'm not sure I can really qualify what I did in the front seat as "sleeping." Pregnant women stuffed in the front seats of cars, along with all the camping gear and bags, do not make for good sleepers.

Rule #8 of Camping: Rain brings out the mosquitoes two-fold. It does not matter how clean you feel after your shower. If you feel too clean to apply more bug spray, you should not have showered in the first place. (I have precisely 57 bug bites to prove this rule)

Rule #9 of Camping: Enjoy the moments and find the humor. Sometimes, things end up funnier the more tired you are. Cases in point: Aidan woke up in the wee hours of the morning, complaining that everything in the car was "stinky." He went on and on until Jeff found a bandana for him to sniff. Oddly, this was the cure. Point 2: Leo's pacifier was wet and therefore especially noisy as he sucked on it all night long. There was nothing rhythmic or soothing about it, but Jeff's imitation of the noise kept both me and Aidan in stitches. Point 3: Surrenduring to the sleepless night, we wimped out on those lovely outdoor meals and headed to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast instead, where Aidan announced that he "looooved sleeping in the car - it was so cool!"

Rule #10 of Camping: Take what you can get. If you're disappointed that the torrential downpour, huge gusts of wind, and relentless flashes and booms of lightning and thunder prevented you from enjoying your tent, take heart that your children loved the adventure of sleeping in the car. If the huge storm affords you the beauty of a calm, cool morning before a muggy Virginia summer day, savor it. If the skies clear and the sun shines warm on the beach, relish the time to play in the ocean, no matter how tired you are. If you intended to stay longer but bailed early, know that your kids enjoyed every minute of the adventure - and laugh at how excited they were to sleep in their own beds again.

Although we bailed early, due to our wet stuff and spirits that were spent, our adventure continued at home. In the end, roasting s'mores on the outdoor fireplace on the deck, we were all such happy campers.

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