The pounding on the camper door woke me, but it did not get me out of bed. What the guy yelled next, however, was particularly motivating.
“Wake up! Your sh*t’s about to float away!”
Two things you should know that are not in the Girl Scout handbook: 1) never, ever, no matter how sweltering the weather, sleep naked when camping and 2) hearing that your sh*t is about to float away is an extremely effective hangover cure.
But you should probably also know how we got to the point that morning of strangers predicting doom outside our camper door…
Friday, the day we arrived was phenomenal. The sun baked, the river bank wasn’t crowded and our favorite spot was open. We bounced towards it happily noting how wonderfully the same things were.
The same, well, except for that 15 foot log laying in the middle of the road. Pretty sure that wasn’t there last year.
Not that it much concerned me. My Pollyanna brain is hard wired for drawing benign conclusions. It was moved by an act of man, not God, I decided. The log was drug there by campers for firewood. Any minute now a group of chain saw wielding men would appear and buck it up. Flooding of biblical proportions was the last thing from my mind. Come on! This river never got that high.
However, Husband (who will henceforth be referred to as Mowgli, one with nature because he was raised by wolves) slipped an ominous glance at the water. As we drove around the log, he silently calculated the rivers height and the topography of the bank including its lowest point and the angle of slope around the spot where we intended to park. A few hours later, as I cooled my body from the shocking heat with a very dirty martini, he pointed towards the water and said,
“I think the river is rising.”
Alarmist. Look at the sun!
“Relax.” I said. “Are you going to eat that olive?”
Saturday, glorious Saturday I sat once more with a cold sweating drink watching half naked kids splash in the water while blissfully searing my pasty white winter skin when…
“It’s definitely rising,” He announced. I glanced at the river. What a spectacular day!
By dinner I started to wonder if maybe he was right. A little.
“OK, but it is nothing. We haven’t had rain in weeks. This is just a tiny bit of snowmelt.” I said. “Another drink?”
By 10:00 pm Mowgli had grown even more concerned so we stacked all our gear alongside the camper. Just in case. I enjoy any excuse to tidy camp and the prep work seemed to ease Mowgli’s mind. Five feet past the fire pit and down the bank I even drew a line in the sand so we could ‘track the rivers progress’. Not that I believed it would be going anywhere anytime soon.
When we bedded down, I promised to periodically check on the mark. Mowgli and I have three cubs so it’s rare that I enjoy an uninterrupted night of slumber. I’d be up anyway, wouldn’t hurt to look. By 1:00 am the water hadn’t moved more than a few harmless inches. I went to sleep. Hard.
In retrospect, that was probably stupid, drawing the line as well as zonking out. I’m pretty sure as I dozed off, the river chuckled.
Greenhorn. Think you can stop me?
At some point it rained but I was near comatose and did not get up. When I peaked again it was 6:30. The water was hungrily lapping at the far edge of the fire pit. I squinted my eyes and measured the new distance from camper to river. Then I worked some fast math. No worries! We had hours to go before the water reached us. Back to sleep.
FYI, I’m not the most reliable person when it comes to fast math. And I’m about useless computing anything before 8 am. I say this, you know, in case you find yourself wanting to rely on me for that.
9:00 am, banging… door flying open… water four feet away. Get up people! This is not a drill!
30 minutes later we were done loading. The river slapped against the camper wheels. Mowgli hitched the trailer. I stomped around in calf high water cranking up jacks. 5 minutes later, moments before the water sucked our tires into the silt, we pulled out.
Cheers! We made it! A record hustle too! We were so amazingly efficient we even managed to boil a pot of coffee! Not only was everything neatly stowed, nothing was left behind and there were no casualties.
Or so we thought. Right about then I realized I couldn’t find my phone. We stopped, I ran back to the flood. Mowgli dialed my number – repeatedly.
Total silence. It was too late. Somewhere between fishing firewood out of the river and locking stabilizer jacks into place, my phone wriggled free of me and callously dove head first into the rapids. A sigh, a tear. Alas.
But seriously, and in the immortal words of Ron White, “I told you that story so I could tell you this one…”
I finally got a smart phone!