Thursday, August 19, 2010

Camping...interrupted

We have had a pretty busy summer with family get-togethers and such, and last week we thought we'd take out the tent and do some camping. Got some cookout appropriate food (i.e. hot dogs) and headed for a campsite sufficiently far away that it felt like we were out in the middle of somewhere, as opposed to the backyard...

It started well enough, except that I might add that Friday late afternoon/early evening is not the ideal time to go in search of camping supplies, unless you want plenty of company, and the accompanying longer lines at the store. By the time I returned home, it was starting to cloud over a little, but we hit the road anyway. What's a few clouds, right?

Having arrived at our destination, we got a fire going and while I took over the culinary responsibilities, my husband set up the tent and our children took off and climbed a tree, etc. It was interesting to me that in the bordering campsites there were mostly campers complete with electricity, dining rooms, and all the comforts of home, and few to no other tents. (I suppose I may have missed some if they were blocked by the larger campers.)

The clouds were darkening, but we managed to get through dinner for the most part before it started to rain. The problem was, the wind picked up as well. The children ran into the tent, but as my husband started to put the final cover over it, he said we might have to call it quits, not because of the rain, (we had our vehicle, and set-up on the tent was nearly complete) but because of the wind. The way things were going, it looked like there was a great possibility that the tent would end up being blown over, and that was not a pleasant prospect. So, to everyone's disappointment, while the children sat in the vehicle, my husband and I put out the fire, packed up the tent, and drove home pretty much drenched. The weather got better the closer we got to home, but what can you do?

We chose to return home because we had that option. If we hadn't, and the tent had blown over, we could have taken (likely uncomfortable) refuge in our vehicle, and ended up packing up either in the middle of the night or early the next morning. But here is my question to anyone who is willing to offer some advice--what could we have done to better weather out the "storm", and lessen the chances that the tent would blow over? Are there any practices that we don't know about that we could have utilized? It would not be pleasant to have no other options than a tent and not know how to make the best of the situation. Like HermitJim from Coffee with the Hermit commented on my last post, "knowledge is power!" So feel free to share... :)

7 comments:

SciFiChick said...

Sorry to hear about your shortened camping trip.I'm sure the kids were bummed out too.
We do lots of camping ourselves and always enjoy it. Like you, we camp in a tent. We have weathered out a few storms over the years but we ALWAYS use stakes when we set up the tent.(you didn't mention if you did or not) You just never know when that pesky storm will pop up out of nowhere. We have never had one blow away on us. One other thing that we have done when a storm pops up is to bring in the things that could get blown away, but we also bring the cooler(s) and other things like that in to help anchor down the tent.
I hope you guys get to go camping again soon. the kids think you owe them one! :)

pelenaka said...

The smart alec in me would say to put a person in each tent corner. Over engineer tie downs.
For me and my children we tend to remember the not so ideal family vacations where something like a slow leak in the tent canvas forces us all to sleep in one corner.

Marie said...

SciFiChick--We did use stakes--it just did not look promising, unfortunately. The kids were bummed, but we plan to go camping again before the good weather leaves us entirely, hopefully with better results... Bringing in the cooler, etc. to anchor the tent is a great idea--thanks for your comment!

Pelenaka--You made me laugh--will have to keep that anchoring the tent down with people in the corners of the tent in mind... Our tent has not been weather-tested by rain yet at least with us sleeping in it, but hopefully there are no leaks as of yet--that does not sound like fun. Thanks for your comment!

Erin said...

We have had some experience with high winds when camping. Some important points are:
Try to camp in a sheltered area. Not under trees but near a wind break if possible. This could be the large campers if possible also use your car as a windbreak.
Use really large tent stakes not the smaller metal ones that usually come with a tent. Put them in on a 45 degree angle with the end that goes in the ground closest to the tent. This makes it harder for them to pull out. Use plenty of them.
Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Look at Cabela's Alaskan Guide model tent. It will stand up to any wind and comes in sizes to fit your family. I bought one because in the PAcific Northwest the weather can be rough. We got six inches of snow on the 4th of July a few years back.

Anonymous said...

hi, don't know the layout of the camping site you had, but you might have considered a windbreak using another tarp strung up from trees/vehicle, we have also done this with branches woven into a wall from surrounding trees,(sometimes called a debris wall) sorry you had to go home but better safe than sorry especiallys with kids-Father of twins

Marie said...

To Erin, Anonymous, and Father of twins--my sincere apologies for taking so long to respond to your comments. The excellent ideas of using the other vehicles as a windbreak, or using a tarp would definitely have come in handy in our situation, so I am going to put that info into the emergency notebook for any possible time when we have no choice to keep camping in even worse weather, (hopefully this wouldn't happen, but have to plan for possible scenarios...)and as a result I need to remember ideas quickly. I would imagine the Cabela's tent is all-weather, seeing how it mentions Alaska, and is a good reminder that we might sometime need an all-weather tent, and thus need to put it on the to-get list. Thanks very much for the suggestion. It can get pretty cold in Idaho too...

Thank you all very much for your comments!