Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When campouts self-destruct, Part 2

Our family campout saga continued. (read Part 1 below first, for the full effect)

It was the end of our third day at camp. (Only the third day? Felt like we'd been there a month). We walked down to where a duo called the River Town Rounders were performing folk tunes in the gazebo. Who doesn't love folk music?

As we sat on benches and listened to them sing, a guy in a black Punisher t-shirt openly carrying a Glock with an extra magazine joined the crowd. O-ka-ay. Sure. I mean, it’s legal in Montana…but, wait? Really? Regardless of your opinions on handguns, it was a bizarre sight in the gazebo with the folk singers. Then, even more bizarrely, the Punisher guy's mother asked the River Town Rounders if she could go back to her camp to get her harp and play with them. Because, you know, who doesn't bring their harp to camp, right?

You can't make this stuff up, people.

So, Punisher’s mom lugged her harp to the gazebo to jam with the River Town Rounders, and we decided it was time to hit the hay. Back at camp, we found the rock in the bathroom door had been removed yet again, but the door code was still wreaking havoc. Not only did you have to push the numbers in the correct order (a difficult task for a 4-year-old), but you had to turn the handle just so within a certain amount of time after hitting Enter. Good luck. And if the person before you had failed, heaven help you.

So we decided it was time to get serious. Bladders were at stake. We pulled the door all the way open and dragged over the nearest garbage can AND one of those Safe Smoker cigarette receptacles to hold it open, then sat back to watch.

It wasn’t long before a woman came by loudly wondering why the door was open because “doesn’t anyone bleepity-bleep know that all the critters are going to bleeping get into the bathroom?" Could she be the one who'd been thwarting our attempts to make the bathrooms available to all people, regardless of sex, age, finger dexterity, and number recognition? Maybe. But she made no attempt to shut the door, so I wasn’t convinced she was the culprit. We went to bed without any clear answers.

The next morning, there was once again some sort of activity involving balloons and white canopies going on in the little field next to our sites. What now? A Daughters of the Revolution rally? It could be anything at this point. OH, it's some construction company's annual summer BBQ that apparently lasts ALL DAY, complete with an open bar. Right next to our campsite. Sure, why not. They also have access to the KOA splash park, where one kid split open his chin and another lost both her top front teeth playing King of the Hill on the mini-slide.

At least there weren't any helicopters dive-bombing us, since we apparently were NOT at war, and the hot tub was hot again. But there was a mysterious puddle forming under our tent. Where was all this water coming from? Turned out one small soaker hose came from a different valve than the rest and had been slowly but surely dripping away directly beneath my and Andy's air mattress. No wonder we'd been so cold at night.

My brother's tent seemed to have been spared, though...oh wait, the KOA people set up a giant field sprinkler on the grass on the other side of the trees. Well, that shouldn't be a big deal, the trees should protect us. Except the sprinkler was so powerful it actually shot through the trees and hit the side of my brother's tent with the force of a tidal wave every five minutes. For eight hours straight. Eight. Hours.

The last night finally arrived. My suspicions about the bathroom door were finally confirmed. It was not the foul-mouthed critter-hater shutting the door, but the harpist. The harpist! And what could we do? She was Punisher’s mom for crying out loud. Not someone we particularly wanted to start a feud with. But after she pulled the garbage can and Safe Smoker away and slammed the door with a huff, I snuck over and put them back. I ain’t afraid of no Glock. Or maybe I am, which is why I waited until she left.

Aside from a brief but intense showdown with the fat squirrel, who tried to shred one of our camping chairs to use for his nest, the rest of the night was pretty peaceful.

Check-out morning came. Sleeping bags were rolled up and tents torn down. Finally we were going home. My mom joked about the worst campout of our lives, and my brother mumbled that he was never going camping again.

But I laughed. Because today's series of unfortunate events are tomorrow's fond memories, and there's no one I'd rather make memories with than my family.


  1. Oh. My. Word! What an ordeal. But guess what? You know what one writer is going to say to another writer...right? ;) This makes for a GREAT short story!! For a children's magazine...like Highlights or something equivalent. Send it through Scribes before subbing it and they'll help you polish it to a beautiful shine. :D

    1. You're so right, Laurie! The craziest of ordeals make the best of stories!