24 May 2004

Worst. Vacation. Ever.

Okay, so I was pretty excited about getting away for a few days to just have some peace and quiet, hiking through the woods and napping on the beach. I had planned to leave Thursday morning, and everything seemed to be on track. I did my Gram's grocery shopping, went to yoga, then ran back to the store for something Gram forgot.


When I got back into the car, the key would not turn in the ignition. I walked home, got the spare, and went back. Still no good. Called mine uncle, found out this is a not uncommon problem with the Focus, cried, had my car towed to Ford, spent the next many hours there, got a new ignition, *finally* got home, packed, took a 45 minute nap and six Advil, and got on the road a mere 8 hours late.

Think that could have been a sign?

I got to the Dunes around 7p CST and set up at a "rustic" campsite (i.e. outhouses only, no showers, and less than half the price of the "modern" sites). Then, I decided to go for a drive down Red Arrow Highway to see what I could do in case of rain the next day. Pleasant, uneventful ride. When I got back, it was dark, so I had dinner in the tent, read Hitchhiker's Guide, and prepared to go to sleep early.

I was almost asleep when something crashed into the side of the tent. I looked and a raccoon was peeking in the window, wanting in. (The raccoons there are pretty aggressive after years of people thinking they're cute and feeding them -- despite the rangers' warnings.) I've dealt with the scary racoons before, so I grabbed my baseball bat (brought along just for this purpose), hit the side of the tent (not the racoons, just the tent), and yelled at the animal. He left.


Then it started to rain.

No big. I have camped in the rain plenty of times. Heck, once my sister and I even forgot the tent poles and just slept on the forest floor in the rain.

Then it started getting worse. Lighting and thunder crashing louder than God and turning the night into a rather frightening day. The winds picked up so I shut the windows and turned the radio on for company.

*Then* the rangers' drove around and made an announcement: "Winds are 60 miles an hour and flooding is expected. Remain at your own risk."


That pretty much finished me off. Remember, I had spent my day at the dealership and was exhausted even before that. My head was killing me and I thought that if I got no sleep I might die. So, for the first time in my life, I threw everything in the car (except the tent) and headed for a hotel.

The next morning, I went back. the tent was wet, but there was very little water inside and I figured I could salvage the rest of the trip. I spoke to a ranger who told me that the weather should warm up and it should be a pleasant rest of the day. Cool. I had some breakfast, went to the used book store, and decided to drive in to St. Joe.

(This is depressing me all over again, typing this.)

I had just decided to turn around and hit the beach when, like in a cartoon, a black curtain of cloud slid across the sky, turning day into a rather scary night. Sheets of rain poured down, making visibility pretty nonexistent. I was determined to just get back. (I don't know what I was planning to *do*, mind, I just wanted to get back.)

Then, about 30 feet in front of my car, a tree was hot by lightening and came crashing down. I screamed and took a brief detour, still doggedly determined.

During that drive -- maybe 20 miles or so? -- I came across probably 7 trees down. I was starting to consider leaving, except I *really* needed a break and some rest, which I knew wouldn't happen at home...

By the time I got back to the Park, the rain had stopped, the sun was out, and all seemed right with the world again. I didn't know what to do. If that was, indeed, the end of the storms, I would be sorry to have left. If it wasn't, then I probably wouldn't get any rest anyway, so I should just throw in the towel...

I got back to my site to discover that, despite 12-inch stakes, my tent had blown into the trees and was full of water.

I gave up.

As I drove out of the Park, I noticed that everyone but one couple had already left. And they were packing the car to go, too. So, that made me feel a little bit better.

I went home. Read a few books, saw Shrek 2, ran errands for my Gram, did some housework, got no sleep. (Silver lining -- when I called the Park on Saturday, they told me that the storms had been horrible Friday night, too.)

So... I give up. I will never catch up on sleep. Maybe after Summer Reading Club is over, I will try again.


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