It was the farthest thing from a dark and stormy night as you can get. The sun was shining, the air was dry, the day was cool and the birds chirped away as the trees swayed gently in the fall breeze. It was the perfect day for camping or hiking or bicycling. Was I doing any of those activities? No. I was digging in the garden, grouting some tile and inhaling paint fumes all while running back and forth to Lowes. Whee!
Kids rode bikes and skateboards up and down the street, or played basketball in any number of driveways. The smell of the odd Charcoal grill wafted in on the breeze. In the distance, a dog barked. And I’m stacking stones in the garden. Well, at least it was a nice day to work in the yard. It was a nice weekend, actually. Really, it was a perfect weekend. I just wish I could have been relaxing somewhere and enjoying the weather.
The last camping trip we took was last summer to Lake Summerville. Nice, cool clear night when we set up camp (and really, it was one of the best camps I ever set up—the tent was taught, the tarp was tight, and the lantern and Coleman kitchen were in the perfect geometric balance for optimal efficiency) and we went for a nice walk with flashlights.
We bunked in for the night thinking of the next day’s activities. No sooner than we closed our eyes, the wind picked up off the lake. As the tent and tarp started moving and flapping, I tried to assure my wife that it will be fine. This was surely just a fall shower that would blow by quickly. Have you ever been wrong…not just wrong but so wrong that you ever wonder why anyone listens to you? Folks this was one of those time for me. Within minutes, the wind was near gale-force and it knocked down the tarp and the second of our adjoined tents. The rain started falling as we began to tear down the camp. Fortunately, there was a covered pavilion next to our site and we gathered our gear under there and hunkered down as the wind-driven rain sliced into the tarp we wrapped around ourselves and the sky filled with lightning and booming thunder. I half-expected to see a cow flying around.
Once the storm let up enough for us to throw our gear in the truck, we drove to the nearest hotel and spent the rest of the night there. I must have been a site walking in at two in the morning soaking wet, but the night clerk took pity on me after I explained our dire straits and even gave us a break on the room rate. The next day was beautiful weather: sunny, warm but not hot and the perfect weather for hiking, or bicycling, but we were already on the way home.
So, I have been jonesing for a camping trip all year and the perfect weekend for it comes along and what am I doing? Digging in the dirt and painting. To me, fall is the best camping time. The air is typically dryer than the spring and the weather seems more stable. We will go camping some time (I hope) once all these honey-dos become honey-dones.
The good news is that we made huge progress on the list. The garden just needs plants and the kitchen is painted, the tile work is done and aside from a few minor touches, the kitchen remodel is done. So, once we find a weekend that we do not have something else planned, we are loading up the tents, sleeping bags and Coleman kitchen and heading out to the wild. That would be the wild with showers, electrical hookups and nearby attractions—like a hotel—just in case.