Thursday, September 13, 2012

Camping 101

Yeah, this isn't going to be an instructional post, but shit, apparently Three and I, two experienced wilderness campers, needed to take a course or something. It's actually a little embarrassing. But what is the internet for if not for sharing the most eye rolling mistakes you've made?

For the first full week of September, we decided we'd go camping somewhere. We didn't really know where we were going until about, ha, four or five days prior to leaving, when I suggested the Gulf Coast.

Both Three and I lived on the coast when we were younger. He was on the eastern side of Florida, an island a bit north from Jacksonville until the late 90s, and I was on the southern Gulf Coast, where my parents were stationed (both were in the USAF) until 1992. We both miss the ocean like whoa, so it just seemed like a natural choice.

Well, Three hates his hometown with a fiery passion, and based on what he's told me about it, I really had no interest to go there. So we went with my: Biloxi, MS.

Technically, I was born in Biloxi but mainly lived in Ocean Springs, which is about ten - fifteen minutes away and is an amazing little town. Biloxi is definitely more touristy, what with the casinos and shit, and it has the AF base within city limits. Ocean Springs has a more small town feel to it, with an awesome little downtown area with specialty shops, only it's right next to the beach and the bayou.

Anyway, we just kind of headed down to the Gulf Coast with a knowledge that there were state parks and hoped that we'd be able to find some place we could set up our tent. Now, we hadn't really thought to add Hurricane Isaac (ha, hurricane? Try hurrican't. I mean, a Cat 1?? Betch, please.), but we figured it would be out of our hair by the time we got there. Which, sure. Yeah, the hurricane was gone, but so was access to most of the beaches due to clean-up efforts. And the sky was a little cloudy, so Three and I were doubting our decision.

Luckily, we stopped in a Shell station, run by this awesome guy, Alonzo, who pointed us to the Gulf Islands National Seashore state park, where we got to set up our tent and camp for $8 per day. It was more on the bayou side of things, but the beach was only a few minutes away from us and it wasn't too humid, thank God. It was still hot as shit, though, which is why we were happy when we saw some non-threatening storm clouds headed our way.

Ha. Hahahah. Hahahahahahahaha.

Maniacal laughter is the best kind. 
Tropical storms, while not as terror-inducing as hurricanes or their quick cousins tornadoes are, are no pansy asses. When the storm hit the park, I was a little wary. Lightening was blasting all around us at a frequent, nearly every-ten-seconds basis, along with immediately accompanying thunder, and the walls of our tent were bending inwards with the rain and the wind. But they were holding. 

Everything seemed normal until, oh, about 4:30A. I'd felt a couple of drops of water on me but then suddenly, it was like it was raining inside our tent. I nudged Three, who was a little slow to respond (he calls it his lizard brain), but eventually, he was standing up, staring at the ceiling of the tent with this confused expression on his face. 

Water??? Where you come from??
He was flabbergasted. He kept saying how this very same tent went through other storms and how he was able to survive a snowstorm in it when he was living in Colorado.

And it just kept getting worse. It was like Hurricane Isaac was back from the dead, like Jesus or something. We eventually got all that we needed to be dry and crammed it hurriedly into the car (which, may I remind you, is Chiquita, the teeny tiny car). Then we piled in.

That's right. We slept in our car because our tent couldn't even do its one job. Poor Three had a crick in his neck the next day, and my back injury from earlier this year figured it would be a good time to be a pain. Literally. But we were dry, and the tent dried up pretty quickly when we took off the rain slick. It didn't rain the rest of our vacation, which is probably a good thing, because I'm not sure our tent could have handled another monsoon.

But hey, you live, you learn. Plus, we spent $8 to stay there that night. That's just money well-spent.
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