June 11, 2012

Adventures in Camping

Apparently when we go camping it's always going to be an adventure! Last year Hubby and I took our daughters on their first camping trip. We went with several families from my moms of multiples group. The campground we stayed at was beautiful and had great views of the mountains and a nearby lake. The weather during the day was fantastic. Unfortunately, the weather at night was cold. I'm talking in the 30's, near freezing cold! We made it through both nights, but it was miserable. (The days were fun, so I can't complain). My girls still talk about how cold it was on that trip.
This weekend, we embarked on another trip with the moms of multiples group. We went to a different area and another great location. We set up camp Friday and spent the night visiting with the other families in our group site. The night was a tad chilly (in the 50's), but nothing like the freezing temperatures of last year. We were in shorts by 8am and knew temps would be in the high 80's later in the day. 
The area was under a fire ban, so no campfires, but we planned to try making S'mores with our camp grill on Saturday night. We spent Saturday morning checking out the nearby river. Three of the girls were brave enough to wade in an area stoned off for a kid's swimming area. They lasted about a minute with their feet in the water before deciding it was too cold. (We're guessing the water was maybe in the 40's). We hung out at the kid's fishing area with some of the other families from our group. The area by the river was cool and relaxing. We planned to head back down to the river after lunch and a hike because we knew it was going to be a hot day.
During lunch, one of the moms asked if we had cell phone service. We didn't. Why did she need to use the phone? She was concerned about this:
What is that, you ask? Why that is a wildfire! The man in the golf cart assured us we were fine and claimed the park rangers told him the fire was contained. We all went about our business, but hung close to the campsite. The smoke started getting heavier above those trees and someone in our group with a radio said at least 500 acres were involved. Most of us started doing a precautionary pack-up. We made sure all of our clothes were packed and put away anything we weren't currently using. Eventually the adults realized it was better to leave on our own timeline than to risk having the park rangers wake us up in the middle of the night and force us to pack in a hurry. 
By the time we left, approximately three hours after the above picture, this is what we saw:
As we drove out of the campground we realized we were driving into the smoke. The highway ended up being closed about 8 hours after we left. We spent the ride down the canyon under an orange haze. When we reached the bottom of the canyon, we passed news crews setting up their live trucks. (Yes, the journalist in me wanted to stop the car and tell them what I knew about the fire. The mom in me just wanted to get home!)
As I write this, the fire has destroyed more than 36,000 acres and is nowhere near being contained. Our campground never ended up being evacuated and three families from our group ended up staying Saturday night. The mandatory evacuations stopped just 13 miles from our campground.
Were we ever in danger? No. Did I feel as though we were fleeing for our lives? No. At some point, though we had to make an executive decision. Would I have liked to stay Saturday night? Yes, we stayed at a gorgeous location and were all looking forward to a potluck dinner that night with all the families in our group. But given the choice of leaving mid-afternoon with plenty of time to shower, eat, etc., or risk being evacuated in the middle of the night, driving down the canyon in the dark and arriving home exhausted and dirty... well, I picked the one that gave me peace of mind. We were all disappointed to leave, but we salvaged the night with pizza night and spent Sunday visiting various parks in our neighborhood. Oh, and since we couldn't have a campfire, we baked S'mores in the oven. It wasn't the camping trip we envisioned, but it was still a good time! My girls have all said they can't wait for school to start so they can tell all their friends about the fire that ended their camping trip!

3 comments:

MaryAnne K said...

What an adventure! We have yet to brave camping with kids - and with another baby on the way and Mike being anything but a camping fan, probably won't try it anytime soon.

I would leave too - better to play it safe, for me, especially with little ones.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I remember you talking about your camping trip last year, and - as a non-camper - I'm just amazed to think about that being an activity for a MoMs group! Most of the families in our group have smaller children (my girls are some of the oldest)...but we do really well to wrangle everyone to the park for a picnic! HA!

What a story you have! I'm sure it was a disappointment to have to leave, but you had to do what was more comfortable for you. I'm sure that was a good lesson on safety and flexibility for your girls, too.

Kim said...

Wow! That smoke is really scary looking! I think you made the right decision because, even if you had stayed, you probably wouldn't have been able to really relax.

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