Monday, July 20, 2009

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night

On a typical camp day, I headed out a little bit early to get to the cub scout camp in the woodsy mountains about 25 minutes from my house. My boys had been there for the day, and in the afternoon, just before I was to leave the house to pick them up, it started to rain.

As I gathered my things and looked for an umbrella, the thunder started. My dog hates thunder. BOOM! (bark! bark! bark!) BA-BOOOM!! (BARK! BARK! BARK!) I imagine that, to him, thunder is some big, invisible truck banging down our street. He always barks at loud trucks, but the fact that he can't see this one pisses him off, so he just keeps barking and barking. I was happy to leave.

I began driving and the rain got heavier, the lightening brighter, the thunder claps louder and closer together. I was beginning to feel like Pavlov's dog owner because (I realized) every time the thunder rolled, I waited for barking to follow.

Further up the mountain, the roads get narrower and the rain was now teeming. Even with my wipers on 'high' I couldn't see 10 feet in front of the car. Higher and higher the car climbed as I downshifted into second gear to maintain traction. Looking up, I saw lightning crack down toward the top of the hill RIGHT WHERE I WAS HEADING.

Before reaching the final dirt road that leads into the camp, I rounded a bend and squinted: is that something in the road? Something large? WAIT. IS THAT A FALLEN TREE ACROSS THE ROAD, BLOCKING ALL ENTRANCE AND EXIT TO THE CAMP ON THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WHERE MY CHILDREN ARE TRAPPED IN A RAGING THUNDERSTORM??? Yes, the answer turned out to be, and beside it were a couple of downed wires for good measure, just in case I was entertaining the idea of trying out the off-road feature of my Subaru.

I turned around and drove down the road until I found a clearing where I could pull over and make a call. Who should I call? I thought to myself. My husband is in New Jersey. I don't know the number of the camp, or the Boy Scout Council office, where there might be someone who could contact the camp. Hm. Maybe I'll call my den leader. I hope I can hear her with the rain coming down so hard and loud on my car, I worried. I needn't have worried. I had no cell signal.

Beginning to feel as if I was in a Stephen King novel, I took a few deep breaths. "Suddenly, a shot rang out!" No, not really, but wouldn't that fit in perfectly right here?

After driving back down the mountain to get a cell signal (thumbs down for T-Mobile), I called my den leader. Through some unfortunate twist of fate, she was in the pediatrician's office at that very moment with her son. She had picked him up from said camp some time earlier because he had fractured his wrist. Because the camp had called her cell phone, she had the number with her.

I assured the camp leaders I was on my way. I told them about the tree. I got alternate directions. And I finally arrived to find one of the large canopy tents had blown down--posts and all--onto the pavilion at the camp, the pavilion under which all the campers were sitting and watching reptile man introduce a snake.

Two and a quarter hours after leaving my house that afternoon, we arrived home safe and mostly dry. By then, my biggest concern was making sure the boys washed the snake germs off their hands while they told me the wild stories about their thunderstorm adventures.

And thank goodness. Because when you're a kid, isn't adventure what summer should be about?

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