Monday, August 13, 2012

How NOT to camp & other adventures from Howl at the Moon

Just in case you were wondering....I am the last person you want to ask about camping.  I am so not your gal!  For the most part I have enjoyed what few camping experiences (all 3 of them) that I have had. 

The 1st one was many moons ago and the only bad thing about that was the frogs would not SHUT UP and let me sleep.  I ended up sleeping in the van that night, it was much more peaceful. 

The last 2 times were at Howl at the Moon this year and last.  Last year wasn't too bad, but mostly thanks to the great people from Muscatine Running Friends who helped me out.  Aside from them being great people (they really are!) I think they took pity on me because I was otherwise alone.  My husband was out of the country, I had just traveled 3 hours ALONE to get there....what's not to pity.

This year however, my husband was not gone (although he didn't come with me to the race) and I did not come alone to this race.   I had suckered motivated my friend Connie into doing this race as well.  She's a newbie to ultra running (she's pretty good too).  So when we got to the park Connie & I decided we would be good, mature, strong, independent women and set up our camp site all by ourselves.  Even though we shot each other a look that said "I have no idea what to do!" 

Let me back up a little and explain that Connie was in charge of getting a tent.  She ended up getting 2.  One from a co-worker that was told that 2 adult women would be sharing the tent.  Said co-worker loaned us this "great" tent that practically sets itself up, it's so easy.  (HA!)  Connie was extra prepared though and brought along a second tent for us, just in case....not sure of what, but just in case.  That tent was brand new & had never been out of the box.  I was in charge of getting an air mattress.  I made sure that my friend knew that it would be used by 2 adult women & she assured me that it would be big enough (and boy was it ever!).  So 2 tents, 1 mattress....we should be good to go!

Despite our doubts of we don't know what we're doing we still ventured forward in setting up camp.  Remember the tent that practically sets itself up......yeah, this is what Connie & I managed to get done with it.

Uh...Houston....we have a problem.   Ahhh, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.....

I dragged myself over to Tony (a Muscatine Running Friend) and asked him for some help.  He is such a great guy!  Not just for helping me out (last year he was helpful in getting my tent up & even added oil to my car when I needed it), but Tony & I ran from Muscatine to West Liberty last month an 17 mile adventure that started at 4:30 a.m. down a dark country road.  He's good company to have along!  Anyway, Tony was happy to help out and helped us get both tents up & functional.

In the mean time Becky & Steve (more Muscatine Running Friends) heard of our need of help and also decided to help out.  This was their contribution to the situation:

They were more than willing to watch us have fun and offer constructive criticism from their chairs.  I'm teasing....and so were they.  When I snapped the picture the were mid supper and besides it was Steve's birthday!  They did get up & help later on : )

While the finishing touches on the tents were being done I went to air in the mattresses.  I had to walk over to the barn to get electricity.  It was better than having to blow up the mattress myself.  As the mattress was blowing up and getting bigger....and bigger....and bigger, I was!  now that is a big mattress.  It was not only a double but it was double thick as well.  As I carried the mattress from the barn toward the tents I was having some serious doubts about how this was going to work.  Turns out the mattress was as big as the tent itself.  Or almost as big.  All 5 of us stood around scratching our heads and saying things like "well???? what do we do now????"  We decided to attempt to put the mattress in the smaller tent, we were very skeptical that it would even fit, but we reasoned that if we could get it in there then that tent would be the sleeping one only.  The other tent used for changing, etc.  So we TRIED....

Can you tell this is not going to end well?  We at least had a great time trying to get it in!  We did manage to get it most of the way in (had to let some air out), it was just sticking a few inches out the door so I had the great idea that maybe if I crawled in there I could get it better positioned.  Everyone was more than happy to let me try out my "great" idea. 
It turned into some sort of bounce house nightmare with me in there.  I got in ok, but then got stuck and rolled around like a fish out of water.  Laughing hysterically did not help the matter at all, at least not in a practical sense. I do recommend such action to help just enjoy the pure craziness of it all.  Once I finally got out this was our finished product:

Yeah, we ended up not sleeping in that tent or on that mattress.

Connie & I ventured into town to get some supper and find a Wal Mart.  We needed some last minute supplies and with our lack of sleeping options we knew we had to get something to sleep on in the other tent.  Neither one of us was familiar with the town so finding WM was an adventure of it's own.  We didn't technically get lost, but we did end up asking some town folk standing on a corner for directions.

By time we got back to camp it was dark and time for bed.  The sky was beautifully lit up with so many stars.  I wish we had time to just lay out & enjoy the night air.  It was getting late though.  We were having quite the time getting around in the dark.  Even with my headlamp on I was tripping over things...cords & wires from the tent.  I was trying to be quiet, but would fall, let out a sound then laugh hysterically.  Connie would call out to check on me then join in laughter when she saw me on the ground.  I finally crawl into the tent all ready for bed.  Getting anything else done that night was a threat to my personal safety.  Connie took off to get ready for bed and I jokingly warn her to be careful out there.  She laughed, we were both still giggling so much from it all and took off.  Just as I laid down I hear a thunk sound and some more laughter....Connie had tripped on a tent wire a few feet away.  It's amazing we're still alive!

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