....when i said i hoped this camping trip would be drier than the last one.
we planned this trip back in february. 10 days out we looked at the weather. 80's and 70's during the day, 50's and 60's at night. the week leading up to it elicited pool days in the backyard. 3 days out, the forecast still looked promising, with high's still projected to be in the 70's, though there was a slight chance, 30%, of rain.
thursday night, a friend informed me that it was supposed to rain all weekend. i checked the report. 60% chance of rain saturday. 40% on sunday. those odds did not bother us. rain is no big deal. we have equipment for rain. rain can be fun!
we got a late start friday. i'm talking 4 hours later than i wanted to leave. but did i take this as a bad sign? of course not! because we were in no rush for our fun, relaxing, albeit potentially wet, weekend.
friday night was great. hot dogs by the campfire, a little talking and goofing off, then off to bed, where we all slept....well, like you do when you camp. not at all.
thursday, we got up and had a great day. we took the canoe out, played several games of badminton (in which my dad and i won every round), and took bella to the park. it was a little cloudy, but it was nice.
and then it started raining. we put up the pop up, secured tarps around the outside and even set up a space heater to keep warm. we passed some time playing games and laughing and again, it was fun. when the rain let up a little, we took a trip out to walmart to get some things that we needed-a jacket for the baby, a wind fly for the pop up, some mat's to keep mud out of the tents, you know, essentials.
when we got back, the ranger came by to let us know there were severe thunderstorm watches and a possible tornado warning just north of us. we figured we would secure the tents a little better and ride it out. we made dinner and got back in the pop up right before the rain started again. more time passed. and it started getting a little dark and the rain was letting up so joel and i decided it was a perfect time to take the baby to get a shower, then come back and put her to bed.
as we drove up to the site, i saw our tent bending a little under the pressure of the wind, some things being tossed around in our tent. we parked the trucks, put the dogs in the back, and joel took off with the baby towards the campsite. he went into our tent to hold it down as the wind picked up a little. i came up shortly after with our bags. in the pop-up, my dad, step mom and friend's son were holding onto the rails and holding the wind fly shut. i jokingly mentioned that they should hold it a little tighter, because the legs were starting to come off the ground.
and then the wind began to howl. the legs began to lift higher, the tent shaking violently. things started to blow off of the table, and i could hear bella faintly crying behind me. the tent lifted higher. we were all clinging to it, white knuckled. i looked at my dad, and the expression he wore spoke volumes. it wasn't a look of fear, but one that said, "i do not know what is happening". my calm, collected, in control dad looked as though he knew things had reached far out of his control.
and i started to freak out. i couldn't hear anything as i clutched my chest and kept saying, "my baby. my baby. my baby." i couldn't get to her. i was frozen with fear as the tent lifted higher, until the legs were practically parallel with the ground. i wanted to run to my husband and my daughter, but i was afraid that if i left, something would happen. i don't know what i feared. maybe that i would get picked up like dorothy, or get hit by some chair flying through the air. my friends teenage son kept trying to assure me that things were going to be ok. my step mom held me with one free arm, while she gripped the tent with the other. i heard bella crying, faintly behind me. and i started to sob. joel yelled, "justine, get in here!". as the wind died down a little, i ran into our tent. bella was sitting on the ground, in only her diaper, screaming. joel was trying his hardest to secure the tent, as it wrapped around them like a venus fly trap.
i grabbed her up and joel told me to take her to the car. wrapping her in a blanket and a towel, i ran through the dark, willing my sight to adjust quickly. as i came up to the car, lighting flashed, illuminating the road. and the giant tree that was suspended a mere foot over the bed of our truck. where out four dogs were being kept. i stopped dead in my tracks, and cried out, through weeping sobs, "some....one.......PLEASE.....HEELLLPPP..........MEEEEEE!"
in that instant, i imagined my dogs, trapped in the bed of the truck (which has a cab over it) crushed beneath a tree. i went into our friends tent and sat there sobbing, while the wind whipped around us, bending and flexing the metal poles to its will. joel went and moved the car, and assured me that the dogs were ok.
slowly the wind started to wane. still, i sat in the tent, clutching my baby, rocking her, and crying.
the "neighbors", who were rv camping, came over to offer help as the men started to clean stuff up and assess the damage. i imagined that everything was destroyed, hundreds of dollars of camping equipment, bent and mangled. we broke down the tents, packed what we could in the rain, and left the campgrounds for something a little more.....stable.
that night, bella slept between joel and me, as we held hands and thanked God for our safety.
i have never felt that kind of fear before. i didn't know how the night would end up. it went by in a matter of 10 minutes, but it felt like much longer. it could have gone so much worse. everyone was safe, most of our stuff looked untouched, if not a little wet. our tent had a couple of bent bars, and rips in many of the seams, but nothing irreparable.
and we were safe.