Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Always Use the Rainfly: A Cautionary Tale

This weekend was our annual camping trip with some friends.

I loved making Smore's around the fire. My oldest three kids are old enough now that they're practically fighting each other over who gets to make me a marshmallow next.

I loved the hiking (could have done without the whining, though).

And one thing I really love about going camping every year is our tent. It is enormous. We call it the Taj Mahal.

Always Use the Rainfly: A Cautionary Tale -- How were we to know there'd be a freak downpour while camping at 3 AM??  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
So spacious. This thing has rooms inside it, you guys.

The best part about the Taj Mahal is that the entire top is just mesh windows, so it's like you're sleeping out in the open air but without the potential for Zika virus. It's seriously the best, looking up at the stars and drifting off to sleep.

After Smore's the first night we went to bed, leaving the rainfly (which is the tarp that covers up those lovely windows in the event of rain to keep everything dry) outside on the ground.

According to the weather, there was a 10% chance of rain that night, which is practically 0%.* How would we ever have suspected anything as random as a freak downpour at 3 AM?

As you've probably guessed, there was a freak downpour at 3 AM. At first it was just a light drizzle, and then the monsoon struck.

Phillip leaped outside the tent and grabbed the rainfly, but as you can imagine it's not easy to wake up from a dead sleep and do anything requiring coordination and/or mental acuity.

While rain is pouring on you.

In the middle of the night in the dark.

Also, since the Taj Mahal is so honking big it's really a two-person job to pull the rainfly over it and stake it down.

I happened to be half-asleep nursing the baby at the time, so I put him down to help. Oddly enough, he didn't start crying. As if it was totally normal to have his meal interrupted and suddenly find himself alone on the floor getting rained on.

Whatever kept him calm though, it didn't extend to his siblings in the tent.

At least two of the other kids were crying, and the 2-year-old was sobbing, "Soaking wet! Soaking wet!" He doesn't even know what that means, but his sisters were wailing it so he thought he was supposed to be doing it, too.**

I jumped out of the tent just in time to remember that I'm the worst person to have around in emergency situations. My body flies into high gear but my brain doesn't turn on for several minutes. It's possible that I just ran around in circles yelling "What do I do??" I don't even know.

Eventually both of us pulled the rainfly over the Taj Mahal. By that time our friends had come out of their tent next door  presumably to see if they could help, but possibly just to watch the show (I wouldn't have blamed them.)

The 2-year-old was still freaking out, with increased intensity now that the rainfly was on. Not only was he groggy and wet, there was a terrible racket as the rain pelted the top and bounced off.

The downpour didn't last long, although it did drizzle on and off all night.

The children who were weeping the loudest were also the most tired, and it was relatively quick to calm them down and get them to go back to sleep on their moderately soggy bedding.

The baby patiently waited to finish his meal (still not sure what was going on there) and Phillip lay there contemplating burning down the tent in the morning and never going camping again.

And I learned a very important lesson: always use the rainfly.

*Practically 0% is not the same thing as 0%.

**No one was actually "soaking wet." My kids were slightly damp and like to exaggerate. I have no idea where they get that.

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Jenny said...

It's also real fun when you put the rain fly up, but it leaks and you still get soaked. Luckily there were not kids involved in that one. Camping is always fun, until its bed time and you have to sleep in a tent. Then you remember why camping only happens once in a while. I actually really love to camp, I just find it way harder to camp with kids haha. Also the worst feeling is that damp, cold feeling. I'm glad your kids went back to sleep after that!

Jenny Evans said...

All in all, it was just a damp, humid, soggy trip. I was happy to go home and take a shower and then DRY OFF when we got home!

PurpleSlob said...

I hate camping too!! When I was 11, we were in the Smokies, in a pop out camper.
The pop outs are canvas topped. But lovely little bro ran his hand in a line, right above my head. And of course it rained. I hated him, and the rain, and the camper. I forgave him, but something had to bear the eternal weight of hatred, so I hate camping to this day.

Michelle said...

Reason number 756 why I never go camping.

Syncopated Mama said...

I think all campers have learned this lesson the hard way - although now we'll set it up on no-rain nights so that it's off, but we can throw it on in a hurry if we need to, pretty much without even having to exit the tent!

Jenny Evans said...

Yeah, from now on we'll do the same! Although any time we mention camping our 5-year-old says something about how she hopes it doesn't rain.

Unknown said...

We camped in Oregon in 1970's. No rain fly, they were a pretty new thing the. Over Memorial Day weekend, we camped, it poured!! Three young kids and everybody, every sleeping bag soaked. Love rainflys!

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

It's not that big. You strike me as a city person who camps once a year and is afraid of nature. I camp without a tent, just a tarp. No one needs a big tent or a tent, period. The point is to be within the natural, not shield it, and leave societal amenities (smores, for example) at home.