We love to camp. Roasted marshmallows, camp songs, and long hikes really bond us as a family. Last weekend, I decided we needed to be joined like glue again, so we packed the car and prepared to leave for two days of fun. Just as I slammed the trunk shut, my son said, "I have an earache."
I said, "You do not."
"I do too!" he said emphatically.
I ran inside and called the doctor who, after much begging and crying, prescribed medicine over the phone. My husband dashed off to the pharmacy while I packed four other bottles of medicine.
"I have a sore throat," my daughter said.
"You do not," I answered.
"I do too!" she replied.
I sighed and packed another bottle of medicine. Two hours later, we pulled into the campsite and began setting up our tent.
"I feel dizzy," my daughter moaned.
"My ear is killing me," my son cried.
"I can’t find Pole A and it’s the nucleus pole!" my husband exclaimed.
A few hours later, after we found Pole A under the tire iron in the trunk, the tent was up and all the medicine was beginning to work. "I think that tonight, for the first time in 10 years, we’ll be able to sleep without the rain fly on," my husband excitedly said. "Just look at the beautiful blue sky!"
I agreed. A soft breeze blew, the children were unconscious from the nighttime cold medicine I accidentally gave them during the afternoon, and all was well. We fell asleep at 9:30 p.m. to the sound of howling coyotes. At midnight, my husband and I both woke up at the same time and looked at each other with wide eyes as we simultaneously yelled, "MOTHER!" Lightening illuminated our rain fly-less tent. We unzipped the tent and torpedoed our bodies out of the small opening and on to the already wet grass. I grabbed the lantern and tried to hold it as we somehow managed to secure the rain fly to our tent during 50-mph winds. "I think we’d better go to the car," I yelled over the thunder. "Dangerous lightening. Don’t want to burn up. Need more life insurance first." We grabbed the kids and ran to the car. We slammed the doors shut and sat there. Dead silence. "Isn’t this fun?" I asked. Dead silence. "Kum-ba-ya, my Lord, Kum-ba-ya," I sang.
"If you don’t stop that singing, I’m going to stuff a marshmallow in your mouth," my husband muttered.
I heard nothing from the backseat except, "Cough, cough! Sneeze, sneeze! Sniffle, sniffle!"
"Sounds like a darn infirmary back there," my husband said.
An hour later, the lightening still lit up the sky all around us. "I don’t think the storm is going to hit us directly," my husband mused. "Let’s go back to the tent."
"Prepare to die," I said to the children. "Your father has decided we will be safer in a vinyl house with poles made of some supposed lightening-proof material." The children didn’t hear me. They were still comatose from the nighttime cold medicine that I gave them at teatime instead of bedtime.
Obviously, we didn’t die that night, and as we packed up the car to head home, I knew we’d be back. That’s just the way things work in the wilderness. You become one with nature, the howling coyotes, the stormy nights, and the bug bites in places you didn’t even know bugs could reach. Whether you like it or not, it’s all part of the adventure. If nothing else, it always makes for a great story around the campfire the next time you decide to bond as a family.