Camping in a Watery World
I had off last Friday so our family planned to use the long weekend to go camping at Killens Pond State Park in Delaware. We’ve only been camping as a family once before. That was three years ago in October at a state park here in Pennsylvania. That time, the trip was relatively easy, the temperatures were cool, the campground very conducive to newbies. We made some mistakes and learned some important lessons but overall it was a positive enough experience that we wanted to try it again.
Things were a little different this time.
We got a late start on Friday. We wanted to leave before noon but for various reasons didn’t get on the road until around 1 pm. There was nothing to worry about, though, as the trip was only supposed to take us around three hours, leaving us plenty of daylight to set up the tent, establish ourselves, and enjoy the evening.
But things don’t always work out as planned. In fact, with this trip, little did.
Our drive was going okay until we hit the Baltimore beltway. I-695 circles Charm City like a moody serpent. Come upon it at the right time and it’s as docile and harmless as a garter snake, but hit it while it’s waking up and you find yourself tangled with a python. And the deeper we got, the tighter that snake squeezed. At one point, it took us three hours to go twenty miles.
Try being stuck in a car, in the rain, windows fogging, toddler screaming that she’s “done” with this trip, and all you can see is a four lane parking lot.
Finally, we got across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (a bridge, by the way, that drives like a 4-mile long sidewalk suspended almost 200 feet above the bay) and found our campground around 8:30 pm. We wound up assembling our tent in the dark by the light of car’s headlights. Not ideal.
In spite of our rough start we did manage to get a decent night’s sleep and set out Saturday for the Cape Henlopen State Park beach. The weather forecast had called for isolated thunderstorms all day but at the beach it was sunny and pleasant with a gentle breeze. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.
But the sunny disposition of the shore lulled us into a false sense of hope regarding the weather back at the camp. In the woods it felt like we’d been transported to the deepest jungle in South America. Hot with humidity so thick you could spread it on bread and make a sandwich out of it. We could tell it had rained there while we were enjoying such perfect weather at the beach. We had no idea how hard it had rained, though.
It wasn’t until our oldest daughter ventured into the tent that we knew just how bad things had gotten. “Uh, Mom, Dad, your sleeping bags are soaked, and your clothes are sitting in puddles of water.”
Not the words one wants to hear at 7 pm. Indeed, it had rained so hard the tarp covering our tent was not enough to hold back the water. So we made the decision to throw in the towel, pack up, and go home. We were done. Uncle. But first, determined to do something fun on the camping front, we made a fire and roasted up some smores.
I learned an important lesson Saturday night. Packing up a wet tent in the sand is about as fun as wrestling a soaked dog in your church clothes.
It was after midnight when we finally arrived home, tired and in desparate need of a shower and a soft bed. (A big thank you to Mountain Dew and Starbucks iced coffee for keeping me awake.)
Will we go camping again? Probably. We don’t give up that easily. And you know what? We made a memory. We’ll be talking about this trip for years to come. And that makes it all good.
Posted on July 15, 2013, in Family, Life in General and tagged Camping blunders, Camping trip, Cape Henlopen State Park, Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Delaware, Killens Pond State Park, Pennsylvania. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.