The Weston A. Price Way

Friday, July 12, 2013

"The Things We Do"...or..."My Camping Horror Story"

Oh, the things we do. Things like camping in hot, humid, 90+ degree weather with four elementary to middle-school aged children. In a pop-up. Which for those of you who do not know, is just a step above a tent. Or maybe, a half-step.

Of four nights, there were major storms, three. 

It didn't get scary, really scary, until Night Number Three. There was a beach party at a family-turned adults-only pool/bar nearby. They had a special guest that night. Oh, lucky, lucky us. The sun had barely descended as the muted rhythms began...The sound of drumbeats...very similar to those you might hear in an old Tarzan and Jane movie.

You know. The ones where the village natives have tied up Tarzan and Jane, and maybe even Cheetah and Boy, and are about to throw them all in a pot of churning, bubbling, boiling oil. Yeah, that one. It wasn't so bad, sort of fun, even, while we were in the awake hours. But along come eleven o'clock the fun begins to sour a bit, you know? And the drums beat, beat, beat into our weary heads. Sr's. and mine, I mean...the kids were long gone to the blissful mindlessness of La-La Land.

Accompanying the beat, there arose sounds I can only relate to moaning. Undulating sounds like ebbs and flows of the tide on a mystical windy night...Only the sounds were made from voices, not wind. "Ahhhh....oooo....ahhhh....oooooahhhh"...And then there were the occasional chants thrown in...or something like chants..."Oooonga, ooong...cahba! Oooonga, ooong...cahba!"...I can't say exactly, as the wind around our tiny home on wheels began to intensify and soon all the drumbeats, chants and moans began to mesh with the whistle of wind and groans and creaks of an achy trailer that would prefer to be parked back in our cozy driveway.

Like a boat adrift on high seas, our canvas-clad  fortress rocked and rattled, temporarily waking one child with screams of terror. Sr. Chief and I fully expected the wind would cause sand to bite and scratch at the legs of the party-goers putting a quick end to what now sounded like a full-blown effort to waken and raise the dead. The literally dead, I mean. But no, it seemed the drum-beaters had other plans...

...Their rhythm grew frenzied, causing me to wrestle with my problematic imagination regarding what they must be doing over there in the dark, wet and windy night. Thank God for the wet...That would mean no means for a gigantic campfire with which to boil their oil. I didn't say what I was thinking...but Sr. Chief, with his penchant for thinking aloud, asked, "What do you suppose they'll do when they leave??" 

Suddenly grateful to have his bulk beside me on the too-small brick we named, 'bed', I giggled nervously, "I don't know, but when it's over, I sure hope they turn left out of the club's driveway and not right!" (Which would have brought them straight to us.) In spite of it all, we couldn't help laughing.

Which led me to realize I needed to pee. Really needed to pee. And the porta-potti was outside. In the wind. Inside another teensy-weensy, tiny tent that I could hear flapping and beating against the side of the pop-up, ready to flop over any instant. And that meant I was not about to try to pee in the porta-potti, and that meant I'd have to hold it-not an option-or make the trek through the storm to the camp bathroom. 

Because I tend towards the cowardly side of life, if Sr. could have gone to pee for me, I would have let him. But that being an impossibility, I opted for the bathroom trek. Getting there, I punched in the code to enter the laundry alcove which had male and female bathrooms on either side. Opening the door, I gasped as I nearly ran into a man and his laundry.

Silent Scream Number One: "WHAT kind of man-freak does their laundry in a campground after midnight?" I smiled politely, hoping he'd ignore me as I edged toward the Ladies Room door, suddenly remembering it had a dead-bolt on the inside.

"Got a dollar?" 

Silent Scream Number Two: "WHAT kind of man-freak does their laundry in a campground after midnight and needs to ask a random woman for money for his laundry??...Who are you and why are you here?!?" 

Meanwhile, praying he couldn't smell my fear, the sane and steady-voiced me smiled apologetically and answered casually, hand now on Ladies' Room door, "Oh, 'fraid not. Sorry."

Even now, I remember his face well enough to pick him out of a line-up. A little taller than I, his hair was a curly dark blonde. He wore round glasses as thick as my thumb. An early thirty-something. He smiled a smile I'm sure he meant to be charming but it only freaked me out, and all I could think was he was THAT kind of man who would and could do terrible things to a woman in the middle of a windy, dark night with voodoo drums beating outside...and did I mention, a tidal lake just outside the laundry-room door? 

He continued to say something else, but I didn't hear as I slammed the ladies' room door in the midst of his conversation. I locked it, clicked on the light and fan and ran to the toilet before my entire trip there became a waste. No pun intended. From my perch, (it was a large room with a single toilet, shower and sink), I watched the door handle. Was it moving? No, it was not. Maybe I'd scared him as much as he'd scared me.

Physically relieved, my self-talking brain kicked into high gear, as in, "Um, you forgot your cell phone, Dummy." 
"Great, now what? NOW WHAT??? He's right outside the door and the chances of anyone else coming in at this time of night are slim and none...especially since you are the only campers here not in an RV, so, WHAT NOW???" 

I decided not to chance it. I could just pace the floor until daylight. I was safer there than anywhere in the park. But then, Sr. Chief and the kids were back at the 'fort' with the wind and the rain and the thunder and the lightening and, and...the pygmy warriors! -Or whatever they were.Was Sr. sleeping? He's a good sleeper, he may not even remember that I left. But if he wasn't asleep, he might miss me and if he missed me long enough, he'd come rescue me, but to rescue me he'd have to leave the kids. Oh, no good, no good! I'd have to be brave.

I looked for a weapon. There wasn't anything but a plastic chair. 

The bathroom fan was on, so I couldn't hear outside the door. Standing with my ear pressed against it, I reached along the wall and turned the fan off. No noise beyond except the sound of the dryer, and maybe some tennis shoes inside...Or, maybe some other unfortunate lady's head. Ugh, there's that problematic imagination again...Still, no man-made sounds, no scuffling, no nothing. It was a small space. Could a person stand still that long in wait? No, I didn't think so. Just in case, I steeled myself for a fight and planned a run to the owner's RV...the closest one to the laundry/bathhouse. Then, I silently and slowly unlatched the door and just as silently, but quickly turned the latch to escape. If he was on the other side of the door, I'd just have to run him over. I'd heard stories about adrenalin rushes making people super strong...That'd just have to work for me.

Oh, thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! There was no one in the laundry alcove. Oh, thank you, Jesus! The Men's Room door, directly opposite, however, was shut. Had it been so when I entered? I could not remember. Could he be in there? If so, I wanted to get out before him. Obviously, he didn't plan to be gone wherever he was for long...the dryer still thumped with his belongings. I resisted the urge to check it for contents...If it were something gory, I knew I'd faint and my life would be over before I even got a chance to see if I remembered how to run. With a renewed sense of urgency, I opened the alcove door to escape to my camper, pushing the door hard against the wind. In a flash of light and roar of thunder that seemed just above my head, a sharp gust caught the door, slamming it sharply against the building. And there I saw him., just ahead of me.

"Oh, help me, Jesus, help me, Jesus! Don't let him kill me!" I fought to control my fear, knowing he would turn and see me within a nano-second. The spastic, self-locking door swung shut behind me. It would take a code to get back in. There was no turning back.

But he didn't turn. Were my prayers being answered? He hadn't even flinched at the sound of the door or the lightening boom. The wind was howling and he was walking hurriedly, talking on his cell phone as he went. Maybe he didn't even hear the door slam with all the noise of the storm. Then again, maybe he was pretending he didn't hear it.

To run or not to run? He continued to walk briskly against the wind, seemingly not noticing me several yards behind him. I fought impulse and forced my legs to walk very slowly. Wind or no wind, rain or no rain, thunder and lightening or no thunder and lightening, I needed to see which way he would go. If he walked around the corner to the left, he'd be hidden by the building and I wouldn't feel safe, so I planned to back-track according to my original 'run' plan, to the owner's RV. If he went to the right, he'd be visible, so I could continue until I knew there was enough distance between us for me to make it safely to the pop-up. Or any other RV in-between.

And all this was ridiculous, not only because he was probably quite harmless, but because I have arthritic feet, a bad back and outnumber him by as much as 20 years. But my wacko imagination combined with the great faith God afforded me, gave me the courage to walk silently behind the stranger in thick glasses, the stranger who does his laundry after mid-night in the midst of prevailing winds and waling choruses of banshee warriors...or whatever they were. 

He veered right. Relieved but not yet comfortable, I watched. He continued in the opposite direction of my fortress and then, for the first time in years, I sprinted. And I don't even remember covering the yardage from bathhouse to pop-up, just that I was suddenly 'home'.

Back inside, I related, in short detail, why it had taken me so long to return. Sr. and I tried to settle down but we were under pine trees...a shady spot specifically chosen due to our pop-up's half-canvas construction which cause it to be warm during summer months in spite of an air conditioner. But now the friendly pines were considered armed and dangerous...bad winds like those we were experiencing could bring a limb crashing to the unprotected canvas and sleepers below. We checked to see if the weather would improve and saw via 3G that the worst was yet to come. The wind caused the loose awning to flap with such noise that we didn't even notice the roiling of the drums had ceased. Even the warriors were homesick. Or seasick. Or something-else sick...It was, by now, nearly 2:30 a.m, after all. 

We had intentionally chosen a campground close to home...Not more than twenty minutes away. We woke the grandchildren, stuffed them haphazardly into the van and drove home where we always have beds ready for them. Sr. and I sacked out in our own suddenly-soft-as-a-baby's-behind-gargantuan-bed and no one, bar none, slept more happily than I. 

Granted, we went back the next morning to repair the minor damage and continue with our 'vacation', (and I still and forever will contend that this was NOT a real vacation). The park owner's wife didn't know even half as much as is told here about that night. (I opted not to tell her about the mass murderer in the laundry alcove.) But even the little she did know caused her to take pity upon 'Grandma'. That evening, she led the entire lot of us to the recreation room kitchen where she had filled the fridge to the max with leftovers from a party she'd had earlier in the day. She pulled out every single platter- chicken, seafood, and crab salads, homemade sandwiches, vegetable and fruit trays- and the list goes on. She told us to eat as much as we wanted and just be sure to clean up behind ourselves. What? No sweating over a camp stove tonight? You bet I was in for that! And so, sitting there in the air-conditioned Camp Heaven Rec Room, we partook as if at a party. Aw, heck, to me, it was a party. We even rounded it out afterwards with a rousing game of Monopoly. As I have since childhood, I lost. But I didn't care, not even one little bit.

The lavish meal in a cool environment didn't exactly make it worth it, but it did make it better.

What made it worth it, with or without the free meal, was the kids. Nothing they did, but something they will do. 
They will remember.

They will remember the bike rides, scavenger hunt, running in the rain, playing crazy card games with friends that visited for an evening, swimming at the pool, flying kites on the beach before swimming at the beach, making campfires, roasting s'mores, playing flashlight tag, hanging towels and swimsuits on a line, bathing in a one-stall shower house, using binoculars to watch the osprey, watching the osprey catch and carry huge fish to their young, watching baby raccoons scurry up a tree, giggling themselves to sleep and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at a picnic table. Plus a platter full of other things I can't remember currently, but am sure to remember in future trips down Memory Lane with them.

And that is why we do it. 
Oh, the things we do for love!

No comments:

Post a Comment