Camping, Take Two

3 10 2010

In which Mother Nature does a little more friendly hazing.

We had been planning to go camping the first weekend in October, we wanted to get in one more trip before winter set in (and don’t you go mocking me about our winters, sometimes it even SNOWS in the mountains). We weren’t sure where we wanted to go this time and we threw out various ideas before finding out that a bunch of moms I knew (and some I didn’t yet) were all going to camp at one particular place near Julian – a place which had been on our list. So we booked one of three remaining spots in the camp ground which happened to be smack in the center of three sites occupied by our friends. Perfect!

And then Thursday happened. As Thursdays, do. But in this particular Thursday, Nature was all violent and unusual. San Diego is made up of four microclimates – coastal areas, the inland areas which are 10-20 degress hotter than the coast simply by driving ten minutes east, and the mountains and the deserts. The further east you go, the more weather you’ll find. In my town we get even less weather than the rest of the coastal areas for some reason (probably because God loves us more) so it was a pretty big surprise when we had thunderstorms all.day.long, including one big scary strike about two blocks from my house, as the crow flies. That strike blew out the windows in three nearby homes!! Before this news story I had no real idea of the power of lightning. That, even without directly touching it, it could create this kind of force surrounding it. I guess it’s pretty dumb to not have realized, but we generally get maybe 3-9 claps of thunder a year, and certainly rarely in the city.

So we weren’t sure what this would do to our camping trip. On the one hand, such a strong and unusual storm was unlikely to repeat itself the following day, but the system was just sort of hanging around like an unwanted relative staying in your guest room. In the end, we decided to just drive up and see what we’d see. This is what we saw on the drive up:

storm clouds

storm clouds

That’s not ominous at all. And, naturally, it started raining LIKE MAD shortly after these photos were taken. It was still raining as we arrived, but not thundering, so we set up the tent. Our first friends were setting up just across the street from us and told us that it was downright pouring when they arrived. We were still uncertain, but the kids were champs and paraded around in hoodies and umbrellas.

And then the sun came out.

pine tree

The grounds dried up pretty well, and it even became quite hot for the rest of the afternoon. My kids had met the kids across the way before, but it had been so long they had to get to know each other all over again. But that didn’t take long and the kids all got along FAMOUSLY. They played all afternoon and before we knew it, it was time for dinner and then our camp fire.

trunk & leaves

As we were roasting our marshmallows and the sun was setting, our other neighbors began to arrive so The Husband helped them with their tents. My kids were tired and slept shortly after, but everyone else stayed up until the very last hour of the fires. As we headed into our tents, my friend Tara and I stood to watch the sky flash beyond the trees, wondering what this would mean for our evening.

sunset clouds

As it turned out, it meant incredible anxiety and downright terror on my part. I did not sleep well, listening for thunder and, on the rare occasion that I actually heard it, counting to see how far away it was. It came no closer than sixish miles, and if I’d been able to read the future I could have enjoyed it, but I was diligent in keeping my family not dead and, in the end, got less than three hours of sleep.

pine starburst

That was enough to enjoy the next day, though. We had breakfast, coffee, took a short morning walk in which we were greeted by one dot of rainbow in the sky (yes, a dot), sat on a damp log and enjoyed the cool air and the golden morning sunshine, and once the neighbor kids were released from their sites, a mad game of hide and seek ensued among all the tents. We went for a hike with a friend where we observed moss and lizards, collected acorns, and laughed a lot.

leaves

nature trail

By the time lunch was over my kids were melting down. We had to pack up the tent because our spot was taken for Saturday night so we could not nap and recharge. Instead of staying the afternoon with our friends, we headed for home.

oak leaves

While I was happy to be safe from lightning in my home, I missed the mountain greatly. This camp ground is beautiful and forresty. I hope we go back often. But not until Spring.

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4 responses

10 10 2010
Oh, I’m living dangerously now! « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] that I survived sea kayaking, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve now spent the night in a tent with lightning flashing all around us, of if it’s simply that I know my kids are old enough to not jump out of the sky car, but it […]

22 02 2011
Day o’ Snow! « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] out to be awesome. We went to William Heise Park again, which is where we’d camped during the Big Scary Thunderstorm back in October. There were people around, and Alex was disappointed to find the snow already full […]

20 08 2011
And then we went camping. « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] love camping. LOVE. Even when Mother Nature’s all scary n shit. So to say I was dreading this trip is indication of just how shitty life is right now. I had […]

12 08 2012
Girl Camping « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] tradition, I didn’t sleep much at all. At least this time I wasn’t stressing over possibly dying from lightning; I was just… not sleeping. Around 3am I bravely walked to the bathroom all by myself with […]

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