Wet campers come home early....
tired, cold and hungry, but ready to head out on another adventure. We watched the weather all day yesterday and debated about making the 3 hour trip to the river only to be caught in bad weather. The radio reports in the car kept saying "chance of thunderstorms, some of which may be severe", but there was no immediate threat, UNTIL... we got on the river.
Sure we saw the black clouds, sure we heard the distant thunder, but we are river gods and goddesses; we can set up before it hits. After about 3 minutes on the river, lightning struck about 2 miles away. Where is the most unsafe place to be in lightning? WATER! Here we were with both girls and the dog, floating away. DH and I paddled our hearts out to get to the island to set up, but reality struck. This was dangerous. We turned around and stashed the canoe under a bridge while we sat in the car as the storm passed. Afterwards, the sky to the west was even darker and we heard the radio change it's tune..... "Severe thunderstorms in the area, many have a history of damaging winds, hail the size of nickels, deadly lightning strikes and torrential rainfall. We have already received 1 1/2" of rain with the storm that came through a few minutes ago."
Do we really want to be on an island in the river, trapped during a thunderstorm? Do we really want to take a chance with river levels upstream making our island disappear? Do we really want to stay up all night on the river, afraid of what is coming? I don't think so!
We packed up and decided, rather than heading home, we would tent camp the night at a local state park. We arrive and find a site close to the bathrooms so that we have easy access to shelter if we need it. With thunder beckoning us to set up quickly, we get to our site and begin putting up the tent. As we are raising the poles, our lovely neighbor comes by to warn us that bad weather is approaching. "You should get that tent up quickly," she said. Oh, really? You mean that the black sky and taunting thunder mean that bad weather is coming? We had no clue! Why didn't she try to help us rather than stand there and give us a weather report. But, I won't get angry.
We set up before the rain came. All four of us huddle in the enjoy the storm inside the tent. Two minutes into the storm we realize that this will not work.The tarp I had rigged up was doing its' job, but we were exposed to the wind on the opposite side that I had projected. The tent was blowing over onto me. I held up the side while the family bailed into the van. I joined them and we sat as one of the worst storms I have seen in years went by. The ranger came through about 5 minutes later with his lights on announcing, "There is a severe thunderstorm warning for the area." Gee, we hadn't noticed!
Well, the rain never really let up, but I put on my poncho and went outside to check the damage as lightning skidded around me. DH came out, too, and after seeing the tent completely on the ground with about two inches of water on top, we decided that this was not going to work. There was water inside the tent. One pillow had become a sponge, and my cot also had a few inches of water in it. We were going home.
I won't even describe packing up that wet tent and stuffing it into the van. I won't describe driving back through the storm for two hours of the three hours with the canoe jumping around on top of the van. I also won't describe how every time we exited for a fast food restaurant, there were no signs pointing to where the restaurant was. At midnight, we arrived home to tuck in the girls and unload the wet stuff. The storms across Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Canada were what we dealt with yesterady. They haven't let up much.
This morning, we have dried out everything and I need to shower so that we can head out there again. We had talked about waiting until today to go on the river, but after checking the weather channel, the internet, and local forecasts, we thought the storms would go through that area in the afternoon. Yesterday we left at 1:30pm and spent the entire day in the van. Isn't it amazing that our girls were the first ones up today, begging to go back? They are true campers!
For Elizabeth: Can you believe that we have NO FILM? We are taking our video camera, so I will have someone videotape me knitting in the canoe! Maybe I can get a picture from that somehow!
Bye... and wish us good luck!