The High-Maintenance Campers

(I must apologize in advance for the extra spaces between paragraphs throughout this post. I have tried numerous times to correct the problem within html, but my knowledge of html is limited. Please ignore the extra spaces and read on. I promise it's good material, but I am a bit biased.)

About 6 weeks ago, my parents bought a 28-foot camping trailer. They had finally figured out that if they ever wanted to camp with us, they had better buy something more than a tent. Because my husband is slightly high maintenance when it comes to camping. He needs a shower and A/C, which you don't typically find in a tent. I, too, enjoy myself a warm shower and cool air conditioning, but I could put up with "real" camping in a tent for a weekend at a time. But not Rick. No. The last time we attempted "real" camping, Liam was an infant, and we came home after only 1 night. Really, camping is too much work for one night. So we have not attempted another camp out since. (In case you need a reminder, Liam is now 4. That's 3+ years without camping.)

Back to 2007, we have three young boys, who all think they want to go camping. The boys, my parents, and I all tried to talk Rick into a weekend of tent camping back in May. We actually had him falling for it for a total of 5 minutes, and then he said, "No, you guys (meaning my parents) just take Liam, and the rest of us will come hang out with you on Saturday. We can picnic and play in the lake for the day." I was actually cool with this idea, because, hey, it meant that most of the work fell on my parents.

That May weekend came, and Liam and my parents left as planned. Then the rains came tumbling down. The rains that have ruined plans every single weekend since then. It rained so hard that particular weekend that my parents and son slept in the truck the first night. And on the second night, I called them to kindly warn them of a tornado warning in their area and to please get my son to safety. Needless to say, we were not able to join them for a day of picnicking and frolicking in the lake. But between rain storms, Liam was hooked on this whole idea of camping. The tent, the dirt, the bugs, the late nights, the junk food...what every boy desires for every day of his childhood.

Since that weekend, we made two more attempts to pass Liam off to my parents for camping, but the rain, oh my word, the rain and its lousy timing.

So my parents decided that it wasn't much fun sleeping the rainy nights in their pickup truck, and they were a little fearful of camping in a tornado warning again. I mean, can we blame them? So they decided that a camper would be a good idea to allow them dry beds and the weather channel. Now, who is high maintenance?!

They bought this great trailer and had tried it out on their own a couple of times, and finally, they invited us to camp with them. Well, actually, I kind of invited ourselves, but I'm their daughter and feel a bit entitled.

The trip that we planned was to Rusk, TX. Never heard of it? Me neither. It's in east Texas, and the campsites are right next to a train track. What more could preschool boys need in life than to park their camper next to a train track?! We planned this entire weekend voyage around a train ride on the Texas State Railroad from Rusk to Palestine. (I've included links, in the event that you have nothing else to do this summer, and you wish to travel in my footsteps. After you read this entire post, you will probably never want to step foot in either Rusk or Palestine, TX, but just in case....)

That train ride that we planned our entire voyage around...derailed less than 24 hours before our departure. I kid you not. Here's proof:

(Photo courtesy of our neighbor camper who was on board during the derailment.)

We decided to make the best of the weekend anyway. After gaining some information from other campers, we decided to spend Saturday at a local safari. The map we were given was terrible, so what should've been a twenty-minute drive, turned into an hour's worth of frustration. We finally arrived to the gates of this safari to find a sign announcing their closure due to flooding. (I wish I had thought to take a picture of the sign, but I was in utter shock that our plans had once again succumbed to failure.) All this rain that we've had for weeks on end had washed the road into the safari and knocked down a lot of their fencing. We talked to the lady running the joint, and we made sure that the animals were okay. In her words, "Most of them are okay."

Glad to hear it. But my boys? Facing another disappointment.

By this time, we were all hungry and grumpy. We drove up the road to a Mexican restaurant, because nothing will sooth our souls like TexMex. And because the doors were open!

The rest of the day went smoothly, because we decided to head back to camp and do what most campers in the dirt, eat junk food, read books, nap, etc. We had a great time.

I think Jackson had the best time, as he was covered from head to toe in mud by bedtime. He was so dirty that he literally had to be hosed down before entering the camper that night.
(What this photo doesn't show is HOW dirty he was. Mud in his ears, down his pants, into his soggy diaper, on his glasses, etc. Jack would love to be this dirty every day of his life.)

So we went to bed Saturday night with happy camping thoughts. Only to wake up to Rick vomitting and thunder rolling Sunday morning. That television that my parents needed for weather forecasting? We didn't turn it on all weekend, so we didn't know that it would rain all day Sunday. Had we known, we would've packed all of our gear and been ready to hit the road before getting wet. Instead, the thunder was our only warning, and we had enough time to get the boys inside.

We spent the next 4 hours inside the camper...4 adults, 3 children, and 2 dogs...28 feet of trailer and 9 living beings. It was a bit tight, especially since we needed to keep the boys relatively quiet and contained in order to allow Rick his space while suffering from a stomach bug. It was a grand time, I tell you.

(No photos for proof. No one was in a photogenic mood.)

Finally, there was a break in the rain, so I packed our car and hit the road. We made it home without mishap. But I think we had enough trouble during the weekend to last me until the next camping trip. Yes, there will be another trip in our future. We had fun in spite of all the closures, the rain, and the sickness.

But I'm sure glad that my next trip will include a flushing potty, running water, cool A/C, and a warm shower. I'm not high maintenance or anything.

And for those who have stuck around long enough, here are more photos.

(Proof that we camp in style.)

(Liam spent his weekend collecting doodle bugs. His clothes are wet from trying to water his collection of bugs.)

(Garrett spent most of his weekend in timeout. He's in this horrible phase of SCREAMING whenever he doesn't get his way. Most fellow campers don't go camping to hear a two year-old scream.)

(Who knew a Boston Terrier could be such a good camper? Except for bedtime, which is when he became spooked with every new sound, so he slept with his mommy.)


Jodie said...

I apologize, but I'm laughing! This sounds totally like something that would happen to me :-) The best laid plans...

I'd love to see all the photos - some of them didn't show up.

I hope you guys have a great time on your next adventure . . . we can't wait to use our camper again!

Margaret said...

OMG! I've ridden that train a zillion times and I never heard in the news about the derailment!!

It's actually going away (losing funding) sometime this summer.

Ami said...

Margaret, we heard that the rail was being bought privately and would remain running. Not sure what to believe. And, no, I'm sure the accident wasn't on the news. The employees were very tight lipped about it. We wouldn't have known anything, except for camping next to a family that was on board.

Margaret said...

Wow... I am glad the piece of history may be sticking around. we rode it at Thanksgiving time and it was supposed to be gone at New years. Governor extended funding. It really is a fun thing to do. Mark and I even investigated having our wedding on it...but when we checked, it was going to close.

I highly recommend you going back with the boys. My 4 year old nephew was mesmerized. I will never forget his face when the train blew its whistle. He was in heaven.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I am sorry that the train de railed before your excursion. I worked there for two summer seasons and I have to admit that I loved it. Typically, I would work the "radio" which means that I would tell you about upcoming sights. I noticed that you said that the employees were "very tight lipped" and yes we have to be. Typically, we are informed to answer only specific questions that passengers have. We can not usually volunteer information unless it is necessary. I also must say that although I am sorry that you were unable to ride, I do give kudos to the person who was able to capture this photographic image. It really does show how the train de railed and the damage that occured on the side.