Wednesday evening, I think Frank was reconsidering the value of that crate …
About 5 o’clock, the sky started rumbling and the wind picked up. I looked under the picnic table and there was Frank. He had already started shaking and panting. I started picking up all the stuff from the table and bringing it into the tent. It didn’t take more than 10 minutes to clear the table, roll up the car windows and check all the stakes on the tent, the fly and the canopy. By the time I was done though, the drops had already started to fall.
I let Frank off the cable, but instead of standing there waiting patiently for me to attach his leash, he bolted for the front of the tent … and then went into a panic when he saw I had zipped it shut to keep the bugs from getting in. (As an aside, that’s a pain in the ass! Every time I walk in or out of the tent, I have to unzip it and then zip it back down. By the time this journey reaches its course, I’m either going to have the back of an Olympic swimmer or that of an old lady suffering from osteoporosis!)
When I got the zipper up enough for him to squeeze through, Frank made a beeline for the northeast corner of the tent … in a tiny space between the air bed, the box where my C-Pap sits and the two tent walls. I pulled him out (that was a chore!) and put his thundershirt on, having to pull him out twice again to finish the job. (“No Frank, I need to wrap it around your body.” “Frank, I have to fasten it!”)
I laid down with him, trying to get him to calm down. And that’s when the wind started in. I wound up standing back up, with my hands against the west wall of the tent … where the wind was coming from … and pushing against the inner wall so that the tent wouldn’t collapse in on itself. The whole time I was praying the tent fly would stay on – the top of the tent is mesh, so whatever downpour was about to happen was going to fully inundate the two of us and all our stuff. For a while, I was wondering if Frank should have officially had his name changed to “Toto”, and if we were going to encounter a bunch of little people when I opened the tent flaps in the morning.
The fly stayed on, thank the Lord. The wind died down, with the exception of a few gusts. But then rain came. And the thunder. And the lightning. Some of the bolts must’ve hit the lake because there was no time between the crack of the lightning and the boom of the air rushing back together. You could smell the electricity in the air. At that point, I was lying on the bed, holding Frank. I had pulled him out of his hole and just held him as close as I could. I didn’t know whether he was going to die of fright or suffocation! He was panting so heavily, I thought his heart was going to pop out of his mouth!
The booming went on for over a half-hour. In total, I think the storm lasted almost 90 minutes. It might have been less time – I might be exaggerating because it seemed like an eternity!
We didn’t come out of the tent that evening. When we finally did leave, it was about 5:30 Thursday morning. On either side of the campsite … which is leveled out with gravel and has a wooden perimeter … there were two big washes of mud, leaves and small branches headed from the road behind us to the lake in front of us. We looked at each other. I said, “Frank, I hope Mother Nature’s gotten this out of her system and that we don’t have to endure too many more storms like THAT!” Frank gave me a look like he was saying, “Feed me. I’m hungry!”
Later that afternoon, I was up doing laundry when one of the crew passed by in his golf cart and then pulled to a stop. In this deep southern drawl, he said, “So! Ya’ll made it through that gullywasher last night, huh? All of us at the Ranger Station were worried about you. You’re the only tent in the park this week. The Chief had us driving by your site every 15 minutes to make sure you were still standing! I made two runs myself. I looked for you and your little buddy in the car, but didn’t see you.” I told him we just weathered out the storm in the tent, to which he said, “Alright!!! Nice to see there are SOME Yankees that aren’t afraid of a little water. You must have some southern roots, boy!”
Yep … only 5 weeks before I trade in those Jersey plates for Texas ones. Then I’ll just be sneered at for being a Texan instead of a Yankee!
Seriously though, another blessing … to think that these guys were looking out for me … and that if something WERE to have happened, that they would have been down there pretty quickly to give me a helping hand. I’ve definitely met more good-hearted people in the first week of our travels than I expected to. And I’m very grateful for that.