Have you ever ask yourself, "why do I camp?" I have. Even though I love to camp, there have been a few times when I thought, "camping is a pain in the butt." One those times was recent when camping in the National Arapahoe Recreation Area outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Mother nature can really throw a curve ball sometimes. It did the three days we spent camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains with mine and my brother’s kids. Each morning we woke to a beautiful blue sunny sky but by early afternoon the storm clouds rolled in during two separate hikes in the mountains. Both storms produced thunder and lightning: one with rain and the other with hail. All eight kids have never hiked so fast. Even though it was scary, it provided a great teachable moment for them.
By late afternoon when we returned to our campsite from hiking, those same storms rolled into the basin of the mountains. Our campsite was beautiful; a 360 degree view of the mountains and Lake Granby. Best view ever! The downside was there were no trees. The pine bark beetle killed all the trees in the campground. Therefore, when the storms hit each evening; winds gusted up to 60 mph. Sometimes rain and lightning came with it. We could see the storms approaching from the west, providing us some time to prepare for cover.
Of course, the storms hit us during dinner preparation on all three evenings. On the first evening, we used the backend of our car as a wind shield when cooking the beef for burritos. We were interrupted by rain. We shoved the pot under the car and ran to the tents. On the second night, the storm hit just before dinner prep. After a late start, we thankfully had a beautiful and relaxing dinner of which we didn't have to worry about flying food, napkins and spilled drinks.
The third night's storm was the worst with the highest winds - dirt swirled around us and the tents poles bent against the wind begging to snap. My sister-in-law and I thought the dark clouds to the west were far enough away that we could prep dinner and eat. The chili was made and we were reading the directions to the rice when the strong gusts began. The winds threw the garbage, utensils, paper towels, stove windscreen, and the entire one pound box of rice off the table. We scrambled to pick up everything, move the stove and chili into the fire ring, salvage some of the rice on the gravel, place the remaining items into the cars, prevent the tents from flying away, and instruct the kids into the tents. My sister-in-law and I got into our tent to anchor it down. My husband braved the high winds to cook the rice in the fire pit with the wind screen. The kids laughed and created their own adventures in spite of the storm.
After thirty minutes of holding up the tent, it was time to eat. We were losing day light and were hungry. We devised and executed a plan to move the cars to create a wind shield. We gathered the food and utensils and called the kids. All twelve of us, sat on the asphalt, in a circle, sheltered by the wind, to eat chili and rice. It was the best dinner.
After three frustrating afternoons and evenings of dealing with Mother Nature, we laughed at the ridiculousness of our situation and ways of coping to maintain a smile on our faces for our children. Mother Nature can through us curve balls when we camp but it is the attitude for which we choose that creates the experience.