Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Impulsive Camping Trip

"Let's go camping tomorrow night!"

I said this to Jamie on the Friday before Memorial Day, with a three-day holiday weekend ahead of us, full of endless possibilities.

As I recounted the story to a friend later, she said, "See, that was the start of your trouble right there.  You thought you had to actually do something that weekend."  Oh, hindsight.

But with the undeniable yearning for an adventure, or at the very least, something different from our usual weekends, we packed up the car Saturday afternoon and drove to the only campsite we could reserve on such short notice, a site near Blackhawk and Central City.

It was a warm sunny day, although a little cooler higher up in the mountains; where we went was 3,000 feet higher in elevation than Denver which sits at about 5,000.  We set up the tent, and not wanting to bother with a full-size tent for just one night, we just set up a little two-man tent which is no bigger than a twin-size mattress, and only tall enough to sit in but not stand.

We spent a few hours walking around Central City and Blackhawk, taking photos and playing a few of the slot machines.  Central City is an old mining town, and there were lots of interesting "Old-West" type buildings and abandoned mines to poke around and photograph.

As we drove back to the campsite to make a fire and cook dinner, it started sprinkling.  We've had a lot of rain this spring, but usually the rain hasn't lasted for longer than an hour before the sun came out again.

Not so on that evening.  The rain never stopped.

It not only rained for the entire night, but the temperature dropped so suddenly down to 28 degrees, that I could see my breath in the frigid evening air.  My heavy winter coat and fuzzy boots were soaked through, and my hands were so cold, I could hardly feel my fingers to chop up a few potatoes to cook along side the steak.  Jamie managed to get the campfire going, but we were too miserable to even try to enjoy it, since sitting by the fire meant getting even more soaked by the deluge of rain.

At some point during this ordeal, Jamie looked at me and said (jokingly), "Did you plan this trip because you're mad at me?  Whatever I did, I'm sorry!"

Although everything was soaked through, we were determined to tough it out and not be quitters, so with dinner finally cooked, we stuffed all our wet things around the edges of the tent and ate our food sitting on a pile of cold, damp blankets.

With my iPhone, I took a video of us eating our dinner in the dark in that tiny, soaking wet tent, and posted it to Facebook with this sarcastic message:
If there's anyone alive out there who can hear this, we're on a mountain near Blackhawk and Central City, waiting to be rescued from this hellish idea of a camping trip.  This is what happens when you go camping on an impulse.  But the good news is, I've got a great phone signal.

Most people sensed my attempt at a joke, but there was one relative who pictured us on the top of Mount Everest or something equally dangerous, and thought that we actually needed rescuing!  But the only thing really stopping us from rescuing ourselves and going home that night was not wanting to put all that soaking wet gear in my car.

At that point, it was so cold that there was nothing we could do but go to bed and try to stay warm until morning.  When I woke up around 6am, the rain had stopped, but I was so achy and sore that the thought of cooking breakfast was too much, so I woke Jamie up and said, "Let's get the hell out of here."  He wholeheartedly agreed, and we dried everything off, packed up the car and drove home.

I made up for the miserable camping trip the next weekend, though, by cooking him a wonderful birthday dinner of rack of lamb with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.  And after an evening out with our friends, we stayed at the Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver, although I enjoyed teasing him all week that we were really just going camping again.

On the way home from Central City, I had a realization.  We're just not camping people.  And that's completely okay with me.

This is my video in the tent - you can't see much, but there is audio.

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  1. Hah, that's a coincidence, I'm planning to go camping this Whitsun weekend, and the weather forecast is pretty terrible, some rain and quite cold. Wish me luck!

    1. I sure hope it's not as cold and rainy for your trip! :)


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