Our first scout campout provided more lessons than whittling wood or teambuilding in a game of ‘Capture the Flag.’ Through my blanket of nervousness, I realized the permanence of first impressions, the warmth of helping and sharing, and camaraderie while sitting around the campfire. Oh, and the difficulty of even getting out of town.
We ran late leaving on Friday afternoon (as usual), but were relieved when the other family we planned to drive up with was still loading their truck. We idled in front of their house as they arranged a tarp and cargo net over their load. I knew we over packed when I saw their stuff barely went over the top of their pickup bed.
I told my husband we should get one of those nets. He grunted (which means he didn’t think so.) I asked again if he was sure everything was loaded in tight. We had already discussed this before leaving the house because our stuff blocked most of the back window of the truck.
For only a two night trip, we had everything but granny in a rocking chair. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”; ours is “Be Over-Prepared – Pack Enough to Survive Five Weeks in the Desert.”
We followed the other family to Wal Mart so they could get ice. I asked my husband if he wanted to look for a cargo net. He didn’t. So we waited.
Ten minutes later, we were on the road. But not for long. After less than two miles, something flew out of the back of our truck. My husband pulled over and went to fetch the missing item(s). I called the other family. Instead of continuing on, they headed to an auto parts store to buy a net for us.
My husband got back to the truck with an armload of blankets in a garbage bag with severe road rash. When he delivered the news that my box of chips for Saturday’s group dinner had been obliterated by traffic, I couldn’t stifle my irritation. In retrospect, this probably wasn’t the best moment for an “I told you so”…even though I did. Luckily, our friends arrived before we verbally tore each other to pieces while standing outside our over-stuffed truck.
With the cargo net in place, we drove. After an hour-and-a-half on the road, we nervously eyed the dark clouds forming. “Do you think we’ll make it there before it rains?” I asked.
Soon I got my answer: no.
“Please tell me you put the sleeping bags in garbage bags,” I said. “I think so,” was his reply. Cranky and ready to go home, I muttered, “I guess we’ll hope for the best.”
We followed our friends off the next exit and pulled into a dirt lot. Our friend got out of his truck and told us we were going to tarp our
load. Thank you. Twice now, they bailed us out.
Rain saw us all the way to our destination. Despite our best efforts to get there before dark, the sky was pitch black, the dirt roads muddied, and the rain drizzle made tent set up more challenging.
We had our camp set up by ten o’clock and fell into bed by midnight, knowing that the next day would start at 6 AM. Well, mine started at 6:45 because it seems I don’t know how to set the alarm on my watch. At least my crabbiness had slipped away during the night.
We spent the next day shuffling from one planned activity to the next. The third family in our den arrived that morning, so we all ate lunch together. That evening, we sat around our campfire and talked. Some of us brought ingredients for S’mores, others had campfire popcorn or hot
chocolate. The food wasn’t divided by family, but instead, enjoyed by all.
The next morning, after the other families were all packed, they helped us take down our tent, pack the unused dry food and fold up tarps. They did all of this without asking. No one left the campsite until we were all packed, the ashes emptied from the fire pit, and the site looked “better than how we found it” – just as we had been instructed.
I feel like our three families bonded. However, I wouldn’t be surprised f no one invites us to travel with them again 🙂
What about the first mpressions? That’s another post on its own, which I’ll share on Sunday.
Have you had a similar ‘anything that can go wrong, will’ trip? What is you funniest travel story?