I have another rain camping story to tell you. It is hilarious. I still laugh when I think about it.
6 years ago we took the boys camping. They were 4 and 5 at the time.
I had been wanting to go for some time. I had lots of reasons: we live in Colorado, we have some equipment (you know - the usual stuff you need for outdoor wilderness fun: tent, air mattress, lantern, iPhone, plastic wine glasses), and we had kids that needed to make some memories, dammit.
So we went up west of Colorado Springs. This was our second time summer camping in Colorado - we had gone the year before with some good friends and nearly froze to death. However, this summer I was feeling confident, and armed with my vast Colorado camping experience (catch the sarcasm? you just wait), I brought warmer sleeping bags, warm pajamas, and lots of sweatshirts, jackets and wool socks. Forecast was decent...I thought. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s, isolated thunderstorms. No big deal, right?
How little I knew.
The first day we got there, it rained. It poured. It dumped BUCKETS of WATER ON US. I took one look at the sullen, sodden preschoolers and the nappy, muddy dog and raised the white flag. “Let’s go get some supplies,” I suggested to the soggy husband.
We loaded everybody up into the minivan. As we drove away, I prayed that the river that running through our campsite would stay away from the tent.
Not knowing what to do, we decided to try Woodland Park. Lo and behold, they had a giant Walmart where we could shelter and ride out the storm. Never before have I been so grateful for Walmart. For the next two hours, we hid out in like bandits, riding bikes through the toy section, eating fried chicken from the deli, and convincing ourselves that if it was labeled ‘Coleman’, we needed it.
Two hundred dollars and several angry Walmart employees later, we figured it was best that we leave, but it was still pouring, and as far as our little iPhones could tell us, there was no end in sight.
FUKIT. We drove back down the hill and had Margaritas at Amanda’s Fonda in Manitou. Thankfully, the incessant downpour let up just as we finished dinner and granted us enough time to get back up the hill and into our tent for the evening, but that was it. As soon as we were safely zipped up, all hell broke loose and the sky let us have it. Non stop downpour for the rest of the night.
We gave thanks for the waterproof tent and tarp and decided to turn in. Unfortunately, the batteries in radio lantern and the flashlights we had brought were all dead. I’m not kidding - we didn’t check them before we left. It’s what happens when you try to prepare for camping with two toddlers attached to your legs.
I turned the flashlight on the iphone, found the toiletry bag, shut the iPhone light off, and rummaged around inside until I found the toothbrushes and what I thought was a tube of toothpaste. I quickly squeezed some out onto both of our brushes and handed Aaron’s toothbrush to him.
As soon as I started to brush my teeth, I knew something was wrong. For one thing, the toothpaste tasted awful - a sort of nasty chemical taste. However, the taste quickly became secondary to the fact that my tongue was going numb.
From across the tent, I heard Aaron make an odd noise. Apparently he wasn’t having a good time with his ‘toothpaste’ either.
What was going on? What had I put on my toothbrush???
Quickly, I fumbled in the darkness for the iPhone. Finding it, I turned it on and shined a light onto the tube of toothpaste.
Hey guess what?
It wasn’t toothpaste. No sir, not toothpaste at all.
1. When camping in Colorado, do not eff around with forecasts that include ‘isolated thunderstorms’. If you see that - stay home, or get a hotel room.
2. In the dark, a tube of Vagisil and a travel sized tube of toothpaste feel exactly the same. Unless you want to end up with numbtongue do not, I repeat, do NOT keep them in the same bag.