Sunday, July 25, 2010

Storm Stories, Pt. 3

There are storms and then there are Storms. It’s summer and I live in Tornado Alley—when comes the winter, I will spare you my thunderstorm obsession, but for now, I beg your indulgence.

Here’s the scene: C’s baptism is the reason we’re all gathered in Mpls and it’s the night before (a week ago yesterday). Mom and Dad are camped in the site next to me and our cousins Alan and Susan are camped kitty-corner to us. We’ve all gathered at K2M’s house (M’s mom and sister, and our Gram, are also there) and we had a great dinner, all stretched over two Duncan Phyfe tables, and it was a fantastic time to be together. It’s one thing to love your family because you must and it’s another thing entirely to really enjoy being together.

We left their house about 8:30 or so, about the time C announced, loudly and with much emphasis, that it was waaaay past her bedtime. Mom drove back to the campground with me in the Jeep; Dad drove the truck with Alan and Susan in it. We’d turned off the interstate towards the campground when things got a little dicey—torrential rains, winds from hell, and clouds that looked like they were starting to descend and rotate. Most of the time, storms don’t freak me out, but that one did. We got back to the campground and Dad hadn’t made it back yet, so Mom stayed in the Jeep while I dashed to the Scamp. One of my windows is still leaking—the one over my bed—and I just knew it was going to be bad when I got in there. I’d left a towel clamped to the sill, so at least I didn’t have Niagara Falls in there. But as the storm picked up—and there was a bit where I was actually worried about the Scamp getting picked up, literally, as it was rocking so badly—I sat on the end of my bed, replacing towels as they became soaked (took about three or four minutes per towel). I went through six hand towels—and I’m talking sopping-wring them out wet—in about half an hour. But then the storm started to lighten up and by 9:30, the sky had turned yellow and I knew it was almost over. (I’d learned last week that yellow sky don’t have anything to do with bad weather—it comes from sunlight on the back side of the storm.)

Once things had settled down, people started trickling out of their campers to assess what had happened. One of the people who was out and about was the Good Samaritan who had kindly put down my parents’ awning before the storm started. We’re grateful for their kindness, because that storm would have ripped it apart like it was Kleenex. And somebody pointed out that the huge willow tree that was on the far side of the campsite next to Alan and Susan’s had snapped off at the top. Half of the tree was just gone. Incredible storm. I never want to go through one like that while I’m in the Scamp again. A couple of weeks ago, when Mom and I were in Lincoln, we had a doozy of a storm, but it wasn’t a scary kind of storm. This was different. And it’s completely a different thing to go through a storm when you’re in a solid building or if you’re in a camper. Or even if you’re in a 33-foot fifth wheel like my parents…vs. a 13-foot Scamp.

The next morning, I asked my parents where they thought this storm ranked on The List. I said, if Glendive was #1 and Mount Vernon was #2, where would they put this one? Mom said this one would rank #2, because Glendive went all night. And Mount Vernon wasn’t a scary storm. Maybe because I was a kid, the storm in Glendive, where we were in our pop-up camper, didn’t freak me out. This one made me extremely nervous and uncomfortable.

On Monday, as we were having breakfast with Alan and Susan before they left, we watched the campground crews trying to dismantle the poor willow tree—and once the chainsaws came out, the testosterone hit toxic levels, even across the distance between them and us. But we also decided that if they’d listened to us in the first place, the whole process would have been done a lot faster.

The good news is that after much effort, I've finally fixed the window (I think). There was a lot of junk in the drain channel (I figured that, but up until yesterday, didn't know how to fix it)--and yesterday I pulled a lot out of there: a helicopter, a couple of dead Asian beetles, muddy gunk... No wonder it was clogged. For good measure, I did all the other windows too, but they weren't as bad. I think I'm eventually going to have to replace those tracks, but for now, I'm just glad I didn't have to take it to the factory to have the window replaced.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Practical Scamping

I would say that any time I get to spend in the Scamp is good time. But in the last while, I've come to differentiate between Practical Scamping and The Other Kind. Since I can't have my Scamp here with me (it's being stored at my parents' for the foreseeable future), I was feeling a little depressed about not getting to Scamp this summer.

Which is not to say that I haven't used it this summer. I Scamped out here to Lincoln in May to find a place to live. This is Practical Scamping: towing the trailer so that you have a place to sleep (and cook, etc.). Since it's become increasingly impossible to leave the cats for any length of time (Galway and his annoying separation anxiety, which manifests in peeing on things when I get home), it's just easier (in most cases) to take the cats with me when I go places for a couple of days. So I camped in Lincoln for a week (with Mom, cats, and me in 60 sq ft) and it was great. Saved us a lot of money in hotels. Last year, Practical Scamping was how I got from Ohio to MN and back again (thought I made it into a trip and took my time, going both directions. That's also how I spent some time at William O'Brien State Park in Stillwater--Dad did a wedding down there, so the parents and I camped in adjacent spots.

And this coming weekend, the parents are going to camp in their behemoth 33-foot fifth wheel (and K3's godparents are going to "camp" in their Class A) and I'm going to Scamp in my 13-foot Scamp at the campground closest to K2, K3, M, and C (and Marley), because C is getting baptized this weekend. K2M don't have room for all of us (plus Gram, plus cats), hence the camping. This is Practical Scamping. I really can't wait. I'm hoping we can do some cooking over campfires at the campground, at least introducing C. to the idea of camping and camping food (s'mores, etc), even if she's not old enough to fully process.

The original plan, then, was for Mom and Dad (with Gram) to tow the Scamp behind their fifth wheel up north and I was going to go back to Lincoln. But, as I said, the thought of doing nothing but Practical Scamping was depressing me a little bit, and there was no good reason why I had to go back to Lincoln immediately, so I made reservations for myself on the North Shore for two nights. Get some breathing room on Lake Superior before the fall semester starts. Feel like all is right with my world, which currently has no link to any body of water. Maybe get some writing fodder. My idea for my dissertation, after all, has to do with Scamping. And then I'll drive to the parents' house, drop off the Scamp, spend a day or two there, then head down to the Cities to babysit C., while K2 sleeps off her night shift. Then, we'll head back to Lincoln.

Every once in a while, I'll be a little bit blind-sided by the intensity that the Scamp brings to my happiness. It's something that I absolutely need in my life to be happy, I've realized. Maybe it's the mobility, the freedom, the ability to see new places, the feeling of self-sufficiency, or something else entirely. The point is that it's there. Even though "there" is a couple hundred miles north of "here."