This past weekend was our annual camping trip to Balsam Lake. While last year’s trip was a lot of fun, this year wasn’t so much. First off, our numbers were down from 9 campsites and 33 people last year to 6 campsites and 22 people. Unavailable were three families that have been camping with us for many years, so they were missed. Problem number one. Friday night was fine; we arrived in the late afternoon and got set up, then had dinner. Not long after we got there, one of the other kids, Dominik, fell in the forest and cut his leg on a branch. It turned out that the branch had actually punctured his leg, and there was a large hole. His mom Jenny took him to the hospital in nearby Lindsay. After a few hours in the ER, she returned with Dominik, who was very proud of his six stitches. Problem number two.
The rest of the night was less eventful. We sat around the campfire, got the kids to bed, then sat around the campfire some more, drank some frosty beverages, and ate chips and marshmallows. It got pretty cold that night, so Gail and I shivered in our sleeping bags for a while before getting to sleep. We had made sure that we had enough warm things (blankets and warm PJs and stuff) for the kids, so they were fine, but we were freezing. Problem number three.
The next morning was great. Gail got up with the boys, as I got a bit of a lie-in. We had breakfast and the boys rode their bikes for a while, though Dominik and his brother Anton crashed into each other on their bikes, and though Dominik was fine, Anton scraped his arm and leg up pretty good. No ER visit required for that one, but I’d call that problem number four.
Later in the morning, we got together with the other families and had a communal brunch. One of our camping traditions is that we get everyone together one morning and make egg McMuffins. I was on egg duty while Jeff did ham slices, Liisa did cheese, Faisal toasted the English muffins, and Steve sort of supervised and helped out as necessary. Every year the assembly line is different, and it’s a lot of fun. After the cooking and eating was done, the adults who weren’t cooking helped clean up… and that’s when the rain began. Problem number five.
Tarps were quickly whipped out, and Steve and Richard climbed trees and worked tirelessly in the rain to keep Lynda’s site dry (which was where our communal campfire was). The rest of the morning and the whole afternoon were spent hiding from the rain. I sat in our dining tent and taught Ryan and Dominik how to play cribbage, others played euchre by the campfire, Nicholas and Jake watched DVDs in Jeff and Kerri’s camper, some people read books, and others napped. By late afternoon, we were all quite tired of the rain. Gail had found a couple of small leaks in our tent, so she rearranged the beds so that none of them got wet. We had figured by that time that our beach towels were not likely to get used for anything else, so we started using them to mop up the tent. Problem number… what am I at now? Five? Six?
Paul and Jenny’s tent was leaking worse than ours and given that, plus problems number two and four (their kids both getting hurt), they decided to cut their losses, and packed up in the rain and headed home. At dinnertime, we all decided that we just wanted to be dry for a while, so as we had done one previous year, we all drove into town and went to a restaurant for dinner. For an hour or so, we didn’t care that it was still raining, and when we got back from dinner, it had stopped. Gail grabbed our damp sleeping bags and ran for the comfort station, where there were washers and (more importantly) dryers. A couple of hours and a few dollars later, our sleeping bags were warm and dry again. Campfire was fun that night, as we roasted marshmallows and enjoyed the lack of rain… until about 10:00, when the thunderstorm hit. Problem number… oh, I don’t know. Look it up.
The rain was pretty hard, and the thunder was loud. I love thunderstorms, so once I realized that our tent was no longer leaking (or at least was leaking in places we already had covered), I actually enjoyed it, and slept better that night than the previous one.
Sunday morning, the rain had stopped, but everything was still wet. We had no choice, though, but to pack all the wet stuff up into the van. Judicious use of towels, tablecloths, and blankets kept most of the dirt and mud contained, and we were on the road by 11:30 or so. It was nice and sunny at home, so we put the tents up again in the backyard to dry, and then all of us had the nicest, warmest, and most welcome showers / baths we’d had in recent memory.