Never picture perfect fall camping trip

For fall break we went camping in Fall Creek Falls State Park.  It’s beautiful this time of year, and can be crowded so went last Wednesday so we could get a good site.  When we were planning, the weather looked perfect–low eighties/upper seventies during the day, forties at night; no rain.  The day before we left, a 40-50% chance of scattered showers popped up.  No biggie. Husband said we’d pull out by 8am. My bet was 10am.  It was 10:30. I drove the van with the kids; he drove the borrowed pickup with all the bikes, pulling the pop-up camper and accompanied by the nauseated dog.  Fortunately Dramamine makes all the difference in the world for Buckeye.

We pulled in to very light drizzle and started choosing campsites.  We made our choice and husband starts backing the camper into the site while I direct.  He thought my instructions were bad; I thought his backing was very bad. Finally I backed the camper into place (it’s apparently one of the few things I do really well) and left to pay for our site.  When I returned, there was a problem: the camper couldn’t reach the water or electrical sources.  We had to change sites. By this time our friends arrived and I backed the camper into a new site and then the fun began.

My list of set up chores put me in charge of organizing the outdoor kitchen and the inside of the camper. I asked for the kids’ sleeping bags–they have really nice warm ones and I thought it would be easier for them to sleep in those instead of fighting over covers. They didn’t get packed. Bedding was crossed off the master list and my husband assumed it meant sleeping bags too. So the kids had no sheets, blankets or sleeping bags.  Our friends, meanwhile, set up their tents and their air mattress pump doesn’t fit into the hole of their mattresses.  The men take the kids to the playground while the mammas get ready to go to the nearest Wal-Mart–30 miles away.  Before we got out of our campsite, it started sprinkling. We quickly zipped up the camper and put the rain fly on the tents and made our escape.  Twenty miles into our journey we saw a Fred’s and stop in there, hoping for camping equipment and bedding. We got sheets and drove back. It was 7pm and raining hard by the time we drove in.  Our husbands put up a shelter, cooked dinner and were feeding our 6 kids.  I was so proud!

The kids played Uno in the camper while we cleaned up and got everything ready for bed.  The tents were wet, the mattress pump was now totally broken and my friends were getting ready to sleep on towels.  We tried to convince them to come sleep in the camper, but they were set on the tents. Once we got the kids in bed, we realized the camper roof  leaked right over the kids’ beds.  We stuffed a towel over the leak and tried to get some sleep. By  6, I realized the girls’ bed was wet.  Both girls got in bed with us, then all three of us girls needed to potty, so it was up the hill to the bathhouse. When we got back, my older son had joined us in bed as well.  That’s a lot of people in one bed, even a king size, so I decided to start setting up the kitchen again, now that the rain stopped.

It sounds like a disastrous trip, but it got better.  We had a great couple of days hiking and biking.  We had fun with our friends and our dogs.  Our friends got a new air pump and got to sleep on mattresses instead of towels.  And there were other ummm…interesting moments.  It was colder than we thought it was going to be, so my kids wore the same cool weather outfit several times. I got to do laundry (my life would be incomplete without at least two loads a day:).   The last night was only about 41 degrees and we ran out of propane, so we had no heat. We started on a hike, thinking it was a loop, but realized it was one way–and way too long for our kids, so we had to abandon it part way through.  I saw my first black widow spider–dead thank goodness. But the trees were gorgeous and the sky was blue (after the first day) and it was a fun way to spend part of fall break.

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