The Storm That Emptied a Park
Lightning! Crashes of thunder! The storm rolled in rapidly. The night sky lit up like a massive theatre screen. This tempest gained our full attention. The wind strained the trees overhead as they moaned, bent, and rocked back and forth overhead. Our parked van swayed from the force of the mighty wind. We groaned with disappointment. The upcoming campout was our family vacation time – and our first attempt at camping.
The deluge started! We watched as the intermittent lightning flashes lit up the park revealing the predicament of the surrounding campers and tents. Our whole family peered uneasily at the encampment outside the windows of our Dodge van. We prayed for safety. With tears streaming down their cheeks, our young daughters asked, “Daddy, what will happen to us?”
The vehement wind and driving rain were collapsing tents all around us. Frenzied campers struggled to gather all their belongings and put them in their cars in the drenching downpour. None of them had raincoats or any other protective gear. Rain-soaked, slippery camping gear and supplies often slid out of their hands, forcing them to stop, pick up their gear and start again. In addition, the newly created mud stuck to their shoes and made their movement more hazardous.
One camper had different concerns. It appeared that he had a case of diarrhea. He made frequent mad dashes to the public restroom in his sopping wet clothes, slipping and sliding as he went. He made it safely on each trip.
Trouble had also found us. The deteriorated door seals and weatherstripping on our recently purchased used van allowed the rainwater to penetrate, drip, and blow into the interior. All of us were wet and cold. Blankets that had somehow remained dry were used to wrap ourselves to keep warm. We kept away from the doors. It was challenging to find a dry place to sit or lay down.
Rearrangement time! We used the air mattress in the middle back of the van for refuge. The girls slept there. We searched for other dry spots on the seats, sat down, and endured through the night. Sleep was often interrupted by a new burst of thunder, lightning, and rain. We did manage to keep ourselves partially dry the rest of the night.
Cars and campers were leaving all through the night.
Morning finally came! We got out to explore. The night before, we had moved boxes of food and clothing out of the van so we could sleep. But because of the expected rain, we had put those boxes under the truck. The storm created small streams all over the park. The rain had gouged out several little streams and gullies under the van. As we pulled the boxes out, they were now like soft, wet rags, dilapidated and falling apart. The food and clothes were all wet.
The campground was a mess! Debris from food, boxes, and trash lay all over the grounds. The park was almost empty of campers and appeared to be like a city dump.
We gathered up our few usable pieces of boxes, food, and clothing and placed them in the van. We were thankful to the Lord that there were no worse damages or losses. Then we traveled on our way to more enjoyable places and times. We were pleased to make our exit from this state park, and our girls were thrilled to leave it behind.
This long-ago night was our first attempt at camping. It did not go on our list of favorite vacations. As we look back at it now, it is funny, but it wasn’t funny then. We determined then that our next camping endeavor would be at the Holiday Inn Express.