The first installment of Camping Misadventures saw me deal with a whole host of items which are probably new to someone dealing with a camper for the first time: Hooking Up, Backing In, and selecting the proper campsite were the first orders of business.
As I suspected, there would be others.
And so we start the second installment of 2012 Camping Misadventures.
This one actually goes back to our first trip, but an experience which had slipped my mind. For our first trip, we visited a campground that was only an hour or so away, so that I could get used to driving it and wouldn’t be far away if any issues happened. This was a good idea, and it also allowed that our families could come visit, and that worked out really good since we went on Father’s Day weekend. This let us celebrate together as well as let everybody see the new campers in action.
Our parents visited for the day and left after dinner and s’mores. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend spent the night, setting up their own tent on a corner of the campsite.
After the kids went to bed, the four of us sat by the fire for awhile, but it wasn’t long before Mrs. Beagle and I (tired out from setting up plus camping with the kids) were ready for bed. Sister-in-law and boyfriend wanted to stay out for awhile.
It wasn’t long before Mrs. Beagle and I fell asleep. After a few hours I woke up to pay the bathroom a quick visit. I got out of the bed and, on my way, noticed that a couple of the cabinet doors were open. Which was weird, because they were where Mrs. Beagle kept her clothes, and she’s usually really good about keeping things neat and organized. I closed them up, went about my business and went back to bed, never giving it a second look.
I found out the next morning that with darkness and being sleepy, I’d only noticed a couple of cabinet doors open. My wife found out the next morning that they were ALL open.
Yikes. Did we have a ghost?
Nope. Turns out we just had a sister-in-law who was looking for a deck of cards. Not wanting to wake us, she snuck in and started looking through the cabinets. She realized that the cabinet doors make a very loud click when they close (they have a big latch so that they stay closed during travel), so she just left them all open.
And here I had visions of Paranormal Activity: The Camper .
Happy Camper, Not So Much Traveler
Our longest trip was for a week. It was also the furthest trip away of the summer. We wanted to camp at Ludington State Park, which is the most popular campground in Michigan. It’s right on Lake Michigan, has lots of biking trails, has great activities around, a beautiful campground, and books quickly. Michigan lets you book six months in advance. Last winter, six months from when we wanted to go we were armed with the sites we wanted. At 8am they became available. At 8:01 we were disappointed as we had nothing. My wife spent every morning looking until something opened up, and she nabbed it (she actually had to call in).
It was a long drive, about 240 miles, only half of which was expressway, the rest was country roads. So it was a long drive. We thought we’d be fine by starting off when Baby Girl Beagle normally napped. We had it all planned out: She’d nap. Little Boy Beagle would watch a DVD. It would knock off a big chunk of the trip.
But things never work like they should. She refused to sleep. She cried. She wailed. She didn’t want a bottle. Finally she dozed on and off.
Until she woke up, looked around, and threw up. And then did it again.
Luckily, we were only half a mile from a rest stop we were planning on stopping at anyways for lunch, so we were able to get her out, do our best to clean up, and hit the road (nobody felt like lunch after that). The great thing, after that she was great. She went right to sleep, and when we did find somewhere to pull off a bit later down the road, she was a perfect angel. She ate everything in site.
Just wasn’t much fun cleaning that car seat!
This one stung.
On the same trip, it was hot. As I mentioned above, we had the very last site available, and unfortunately, it was in full sun. The Air Conditioning was running non-stop. Still, we did lots of outdoor things and even went to see the fireworks on the night of the 4th. It was a good show right over the harbor in Lake Michigan.
With that hot weather, we had no breeze. For four days, there was barely a breeze and this kept up. Until about 12:30am. We were just getting ready to drift off when, out of nowhere, a gust rocked the camper, shaking it from side to side. I went outside to see what was happening, and noticed that the wind had come out of nowhere, likely a storm blowing in off the lake.
Our awning was down and I was just getting ready to go put it back up, when suddenly an even stronger gust came through, and I watched helplessly as one side of the awning ripped completely away from the camper. My wife stuck her head out, she had no idea what had just happened when I pointed up and yelled that the awning had just ripped off.
Camping gives you many things, and you’ll find that one of them is that fellow campers are generally a friendly and helpful bunch. This was proven to me when a large group of people, having heard the banging and yelling, ran over, and helped me out. The wind was picking up even stronger, and without their help, the other half of the awning would have likely ripped off. Four or five people were holding on for dear life to hold it down, while I went across, got the bars and support systems loosened up, and we put it back the best we could against the awning.
I was sickened. My wife was just happy that I hadn’t gotten hit when the awning came loose.
The next morning, I went out and talked to one of the rangers. He gave me the name of a place in town that did RV repairs, and I was there the moment that the store opened. Turns out they had a mobile repair unit, and they were hopeful that they could get out that afternoon to repair the unit. I bought the necessary parts and headed back to the campsite.
It was another scorcher and now we had no awning. I was dismayed when the afternoon came and went and they never showed up. I called right after five and she said that they were running behind and that they’d likely be out the next morning. At this point, we only had a couple of days left, and I was starting to worry about what we’d do if they didn’t make it, because the awning was in no position to make a 250 mile ride home.
The next morning came and went, still no repair people. I called back, and luckily I did, because they’d lost my service order. I wasn’t even on the docket.
I explained what had happened, and the service manager agreed to get me on, even if he had to do it personally, whether it be that afternoon or the following morning.
Good thing I called.
A couple of hours later, a van showed up and the repair guy did his magic.
I learned that I probably should have had additional re-inforcements. Subsequent to that trip, I bought a set of awning de-flappers, which prevents the canvas from flapping around when it’s windy, which, having witnessed the problem, definitely occurred moments before it came loose. We went camping a couple of weeks later, and there was a day where it was sustained wind of over 20MPH, and the canvas barely moved.
Those de-flappers cost $18. I wish I would have known about them beforehand, as it might have saved me the $220 that the repairs cost. Though that wind was so strong, I’m really not sure it would have mattered.
It could have been worse, I can’t imagine what would have happened had those great and kind people not come and prevented the entire awning from coming down. Not only that, they even left me their leftover firewood after they broke camp a day before we did!