My selection of pics of the following event are mercifully few, this one was a few Thanskgivings later, in Bad Water Basin – Death Valley, and that’s my lovely daughter GEC, on another windy desert day. The other pics below are of the park where we camped that fateful Thanksgiving. It is beautiful!
It’s funny, when I look back at it, it really is, but it was certainly not funny as it was happening. After my Grandmother passed away, the family decided to stop getting together for Thanksgiving and my then husband and I decided it would be a perfect time for a Thanksgiving camping trip to the desert. The kids were excited; I was excited.
I made up all the menu plans, bought the groceries, made the camping arrangements, and hubby bought a new tent so we wouldn’t have to use the tiny little earth-pimple dome tents we had.
We got to the campground late and had a hard time setting up in the dark, but we did manage it and everyone had a pretty good night. We got the kids into their sleeping bags and actually enjoyed a bit of time by ourselves before hitting the sacks ourselves.
What we had not noticed in the dark was our site location was right in the “V” created by two mountains. The next morning dawned bright and clear, we were up and out early, had a quick breakfast and started off on a hike up to the beautiful spring.
We noticed the “V” and decided that when we got back, we would look into a different spot since we didn’t want to risk being caught in a flash flood should there be rain. The hike was great and we got back to our site just in time for lunch right as the wind started picking up a bit.
The hubby started out for the Ranger Station to register and talk about moving our site while I fixed the kids their lunch. The wind, earlier a gentle breeze, was now blowing so hard it was lifting small items off the table. I decided to pack it up and have lunch inside the tent.
Right at that moment, the wind picked up our dishes – not plastic things, mind you, but enamel-covered steel, heavy stuff – and plates started flying around like Frisbees. The wind was heavy and strong, and the “V” of the mountains was acting like a funnel and pushing it all right through our camp site.
I was frantically trying to get the rest of the stuff off the table, my kids were laughing hysterically – as only kids can do in such circumstances – and hubby was still at the Ranger Station.
About the time I finally got the table contents under control, my daughter pointed at the tent and said, “UUUhhhhh, MOOOOOOmmmmmmm!” I looked, and the wind was catching the tent and pulling the stakes up from the sandy ground.
I dropped the dishes and other table stuff, yelled for the kids to get the plates and hold them, and ran for the tent, grabbing it just as the last tent peg pulled free.
I was holding on to the top bar on the tent, leaning into the wind like someone on a catamaran, alternately hollering for the kids – who by this time were rolling with laughter – to please grab the flying dishes and screaming into the two-way radio for my hubby to get BACK here RIGHT NOW!
My intent was to drop the tent poles and let the tent lie flat until the wind died down enough for us to pack up and move to a better spot.
Hubby arrived to find the table contents strewn across the desert floor, and caught in the various local scrub, the kids rolling on the ground laughing hysterically and me tightly holding on to the tent.
His genius idea? The first thing he did was to run around zipping OPEN all of the doors and windows in the tent.
Sounds like a good idea?
The tent, which up until then had been basically a large sail, became a huge parachute as the wind rushed in to the open windows and doors and ballooned the tent out. The force of it was literally dragging me along through the sand.
I was yelling for hubby to just take the tent poles down, we’d collapse the tent and let the wind die before trying to do any more – I’ve lived in the high desert, you don’t fight the wind, you just ride it out.
Hubby had a “better” idea. He decided to attempt to re-stake the tent and began forcing the tent poles back to the stakes, as the wind continued to drag me and the now billowing tent across the desert floor.
Since the tent was now open, the wind also started picking up any and all contents of the tent and blowing them across the desert floor as well. I ducked as sleeping bags, stuff sacks and last night’s dirty laundry went whizzing past my head.
Hubby was yelling for the kids to “Come help hold this thing down” and I was yelling at him to stop trying to re-stake it, to just drop the poles and let it lie flat and he was yelling back at me that “that won’t work” …
… Right then, I heard a sickening snap as the fiberglass tent pole broke and whipped over, knocking my daughter to the ground. The second pole snapped, fabric tore and suddenly my arm was bleeding from where the ragged edge of the second pole had sliced across my bicep.
I quit trying to hold on to the tent, grabbed my kid who was thankfully not hurt, just startled, and started picking up whatever I could and racing it, my children and myself to our truck 50 yards away. I got the kids in to the truck and returned to find hubby still frantically trying to re-stake the now broken tent and very ticked at me for “abandoning” him.
It was at that point that I grabbed the section of tent that had torn and pointed it out to him, and asked him if he expected this to be a very good roof? He finally gave it up as a lost cause and we went about trying to pick up all of our things from the surrounding plant life and cram it back into the truck.
Once we did get everything packed up, we headed back home to spend the Thanksgiving weekend just playing tourist around our local fun spots.
Hubby was a constant grump, reminding me at every turn what I had “done wrong” and how if I’d done it “his way” it would have worked as well as being very grouchy with the kids because they “hadn’t helped” – they were young – what did he expect? And it was a pretty miserable time.
Looking back at it, it is very funny and the kids fortunately remember the humor of it. The other thing I can’t help but think is, I should have left right then and there.
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