Saturday, July 12, 2008

Road Trip: Day 5

Our next destination was about 3 hours north to Manistee, MI. We've been coming to this quaint town on the shore of Lake Michigan for a few years now. In an effort to save some money this year, we decided to make it a camping trip instead of staying in a hotel. We've never camped with the kids, and we have very little equipment, so Marc and I were a little nervous. The kids were so excited that they were going to get to sleep in tents at a real campground. So as we pulled into Orchard Beach State Park, expectations were high. We set up camp and then had a lovely meal of roasted hotdogs and watermelon, followed by the best s'mores ever. Our camping experience seemed official.

We still had time for a dip in the lake before sunset. As we walked through the campground, seeing kids playing everywhere and adults relaxing around fire pits, I said to Marc, "I'm sold on this camping thing -- why wouldn't anyone want to do this?"

And then things started to go downhill. Gracie puked all over Marc and I in Lake Michigan (at least the clean-up was easy). We headed back to camp, and took showers in the dark (that didn't stop the mosquitoes from finding us). Marc and the kids headed to bed, while I stayed by the fire to read a bit. Then the rain drops started falling. I quickly pulled all the wet towels off the clothes line and threw them in the car, and then looked for other things that needed to go in the car.

We only have two small tents, one of them not even big enough for an adult. So we had put Anna and Ryne in that tent, while Marc, Gracie, and I were to sleep in the other tent. I had been a little nervous about this arrangement, so I had Marc set up the tents close together with the openings facing each other. After getting everything out of the rain, I checked on Anna and Ryne. They had only zipped the mosquito net, so one of their blankets was already wet. They were sound asleep, so I shook off the blanket and closed the tent tightly. When I got to the other tent, I could already feel some water on the floor -- the tent hadn't been zipped all the way. Our inexperience was showing.

About an hour later the rain turned into a storm. And then the storm turned into WWIII. There was not much wind, but the lightening and thunder was right over us, and the rain felt like a waterfall on top of our tent. Marc and Grace and I were all awake and panicked. The lightning and rain were so intense that we dared not leave the tent to check on Anna and Ryne. But the storm was so loud I wasn't sure I'd be able to hear the kids call for help. I think this was the first time I've ever seen Marc as scared as me. With complete seriousness, I pleaded with God to show us mercy. As the storm progressed, our tent filled up with water. We were sleeping on an air mattress, but there was at least a couple of inches of water all around the mattress. Water was dripping in everywhere. Everything was soaked.

And then, finally, around 3 a.m. the storm let up. We were able to check on the kids. They were damp, but sound asleep! We moved a bunch of stuff out of the car and into our tent, so we could sleep in the car. We decided to leave Anna and Ryne in their tent since they didn't get nearly as much water in their tent (which was a little more elevated than ours), and because it would take too long to move all the stuff out of the car to make room for them. Of course this made me very nervous, so I stayed awake for the rest of the night.

So am I exaggerating about our first camping adventure? Below is our campsite at daylight. Most of the water had drained away by then.

In this picture you can see some of the standing water behind our tent. We certainly could have had it worse.

Like this couple! Their campsite was just across the driveway from us.

And this was just behind them.

Anna and Ryne woke up and they were much wetter than I had originally thought. All our sleeping bags, pillows, etc. were soaked. The park ranger showed up and said it was supposed to rain off and on for the rest of the day, with 80% chance of storms at night.

Thus ended our first camping adventure. We checked into a local hotel for the next two nights.

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