Monday, June 25, 2007

Gone With the Wind

As I said in my last post, during the early years of our marriage, when we camped, we slept in a tent.
Which was an improvement over sleeping on the ground.
Or on a concrete picnic table.
or on a wobbly Army surplus cot, which I had to share with my baby sister or brother.
Wick and I both grew up richer in family and love than money, and for entertainment, our families camped out. We continued to camp out, because we enjoyed being with our families, and wanted our kids to grow up with similar memories to ours.
As if we didn't get enough of tent camping at Toledo Bend, we continued to tent camp.
Admittedly, we would have preferred a nicer accomodation, but hey, the tent was available.
And free, since we were borrowing it from his parents, who had moved up to a small camp trailer, with one real bed, and one that folded up against the ceiling when not in use.
We lived within fifteen minutes of Lake Texoma, which at the time allowed free camping.
And on our budget, free was good.
So as I was saying, we went camping with our kids and parents and siblings and their kids and whoever else wanted to go. It often rained, but since we all had some form of shelter, we didn't let that stop us.
One evening as we were settling in for the night, my brother-in-law mentioned that it looked like it might rain. We glanced up, noticed the rising wind, and the streaks of lightning in the distance, and agreed.
Wick compensated for the threat of rain by tying the tent down more securely. Since the tent pegs had a tendency to come unstaked when it rained, he tied a couple of the tent lines to the bumper of our baby blue Volkswagen.
We settled the kids for the night, sat around our campfire and talked and sang until we were falling asleep, and then joined the kids in the tent.
About two hours later, we were awakened from a sound sleep by the rising wind, hard rain, and lightning striking much too close for comfort.
I reached out to grab Wick's hand in the inky darkness, and asked him if everything was okay. His voice, calm and low enough not to rouse the sleeping babies, reassured me that everything was fine.
I let my head fall back onto the pillow, listening to the gale winds flapping the tent vigorously. Suddenly, chaos.
The tent essentially turned wrong side out, turing our cots over, and scattering our possesions to the elements. Wick grabbed me just as Scott grabbed my leg, crying that the rain was getting his face wet. I shouted, "Where is Jeana?"
Over the roaring winds and rain, I heard her little voice crying for her daddy.
I could hear her.
But I couldn't find her.
My heart jumped up in my throat, choking off my breathing, as I started pawing through the stuff that our tent had vomited out, searching for my baby girl.
Wick too was searching, digging, throwing things right and left.
Finally, we found her, on the ground, under one of the cots, with another cot crossways on top of the first cot.
We hugged both of them close and started laughing, standing out in the pouring rain and howling wind.
Then Wick bundled us into the VW with whatever blankets he salvaged from the disaster, adn we slept the rest of the night in the car.
Next morning, we discovered that we were not the only ones who had slept in their cars, and that at least one family had utterly abandoned us and gone to find a dry motel room.
The tent was still tied to the bumper of the Volkswagen, rather the worse for wear and tear.
By the next camping season, Wick had managed to come up with a cute little cover for the bed of his pickup, so that we were no longer tent camping, but camper camping.
It's an ill wind that blows no good.

1 comment:

Jeana said...

I wonder how old I was? Because I can remember being under that tent and the storm and crying for Daddy. I don't remember anything else about that trip, or camping in the pick up later, but I remember that.