QRZ Logbook

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Back from camping

What a weekend. Camping in North Carolina is certainly an experience.

To quote a famous book, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

For the first of June, it was way hotter than expected, and hotter than normal for this time of year. Usually the heat waits until Field Day weekend.

Just getting out of the driveway was a problem. The damned minivan wouldn't start! We jumped off with my Trailblazer, and then head off. To sum up that experience, the battery ran down if we kept the doors open longer than 5 minutes. I got that taken care of when we got back home (after a jump from the campground manager). Still under warranty, free replacement battery...thank you Advance!

There was a family from South Carolina next to us, but they were away from the campsite when we arrived just after noon on Friday.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived was this eerie sound of the Cicadas coming around for their 17-year cycle of life. The sound was a constant high-pitched whine, almost like a transceiver on a dead frequency or just above a frequency where someone is tuning their radio. To have that sound all around you was somewhat haunting.

We surprised the girls when we showed them their cabin. Designed for the kids to have something to do and even use as a shelter as we'd find out later.
Kids' Cabin

We spend the day setting up and settling in. Of course I run to Wal-Mart to get supplies. One surprise for me was that we had AC at the kids' cabin! First thing to get is fans, then extension cords.

The kids enjoy the creek next to the cabin, barely knee-deep for the girls at it's lowest point so I don't have to worry too much.

We meet our tent neighbors and they have a 3-yr-old, and she and my girls hit it off from minute 1. It was a good thing too, because our next set of campers weren't so good.

They show up around 6, and set up across the creek from where we were, things are good at first, but as the night wore on, they wore out their welcome real fast. I learned that they apparently have "family issues" with one guy who may or may not have smacked another's sister. Fortunately all this went on after our girls finally crashed. My tent neighbor (Sean) and I were hesitant to call the campsite manager, thinking he'd just give a warning, and there were only two campsites that would have complained, and pissing off the neighbors and waking up with slashed tires, slashed tent, or slashed me was not what I wanted.

Then things got weird.

One of them apparently was tripping out in a big way. They would walk by our campsites on the way to their cars, and were all the time arming and disarming the system, so we'd just hear "*beep beep*" every so often.

Then one of them would "whoop" every once in a while only to get told to STFU by his friends. Twas quite entertaining, to a point.

While this was going on, my wife and I dealt with a deflating air mattress that we decided was best deflated all the way and throwing a sleeping bag on top of them and crashing for the rest of the night.

I know my wife got little sleep, same as I. Riding on 3 hours sleep the night before, and suffering through heat and stressed out from the battery on the minivan, I finally passed out and I slept through Sean's apparent confrontation with one of them after hearing "*beep beep*" for the upteenth time.

The campsite manager was called out later on and did kick them out, around 6 in the morning.
He told us there were "no warnings" and that he'd have "backup" if they were out of control. Lesson learned for next time. Sean told us later he heard one of them remarking about how much Kool-Aid one of them drank, so it was apparent to him they were high on 'shrooms during the night. I thought it was the DTs from moonshine or something similar myself. Shows how much I know about drugs...

My wife, the kids, and I made our way to Catawba Falls the next day. It was a nice trek. I learned Lauren loves talking on the radio. It was an FRS radio but still I think I have a future ham in the making.

Catawba Falls

2 hours after we came back the most intense thunderstorm I've encountered in years built up right over our campground. I was using the Wi-Fi to update TWIAR's podcast, and at first I thought it was jet aircraft. Only when it got closer, and louder, did I take notice.

The wife and kids took shelter in the cabin, and I grabbed our dog and huddled in the tent to test out the water resistant spray we put on. Lightning struck real close several times, and I wondered if I should abandon the tent and go to the car. But just as quickly as it came, it ended. The tent survived with only minor leaking, and the dog, well, she's pretty scared of thunderstorms and she was a handful during the storm. I'm just glad she didn't leave us a present during the storm. The area must have been really dry, as the creek next to our campsite never rose after the storm, and after all that rain, I thought for sure there would be flooding.

The great thing was that the storm brought the oppressive heat down and shut the cicada's up until the next morning.

With all that excitement, I was wiped out and went to bed early and solidly slept despite being on little cushion. I was worried my back wouldn't like the hard, flat surface, but didn't have any issues.

The van died again as we packed up to leave, and that canceled our plans to go up to Mt. Mitchell to catch a view of the world from the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It was actually a godsend, as I was still exhausted from very little sleep and having to get up early in order to pack up. Traveling to Mt. Mitchell would have delayed our getting home and my getting some much-needed sleep.

Funny thing, as I type this, a hitchhiking bug just crawled across my shirt. He looks like an ant with huge antennae. I don't think I've seen them around here, so I assume he tagged along from the campground.

Overall, the trip was fun. Shroomed neighbors and oppressive heat aside, We're making plans to go back with my brother along for the ride. If only I can find a way to run QRP...