Sunday, June 19, 2011

When Camping Spots Attack..........

Ok, so I HATE camping! Totally and completely. I didn't always feel this way, when I was a kid I thought it was the greatest thing ever, but that was back when I didn't plan, pack, cook, clean, or care about dirt. Now I'm the mom and seriously, WHAT can be fun about living in the dirt and trying to feed your family out of an ice chest? But I digress.....

There is one upside to camping for me and that is that camping supplies, by their very nature, are emergency perparation items, SO when I found myself unavoidably forced to go camping last week I resolved to at least stock up on a bunch of emergency preparedness "necessities."

I figured if I was going to have to camp, I was at least going to be as comfortable as possible so we went to Cabelas and practically bought out the store's camping section. I'm not kidding. We had THREE sales guys helping us load all our stuff on a big pallet cart. They were so excited I could tell they were looking at all the stuff we were buying and thinking "Well our jobs are secure for the rest of the year!"

Not to make anyone jealous but we got 2 tents (one is 10x20!), a nice, large cooking stove with accessories, a kitchen complete with a kitchen sink :), a shower WITH hot water, a giant shade screen to fit around our picnic table and kitchen to avoid bugs, 2 double high air mattresses with sleeping bags that convert to a bed set so you aren't squished into a narrow sleeping bag, plus a host of other things. Yep I was going to be camping in style and getting prepared at the same time, or so I thought.

So we traveled all the way down to Arches, UT for our little adventure and truthfully I was excited to try out my new stuff. It took us four hours to set up camp but I figured it would be worth it. We were camping with all of my extended family, some in tents, and some had rented RV's that were in adjacent sites to our group site. You can see from the picture how awesome our spot was. Day one went great, I LOVED my kitchen and the new "beds" were so comfortable I slept like a baby all night. Day 2 was still going well when the men and older kids decided to go on an evening hike about 7pm, leaving us women folk at camp with the little children.

My sister and I watched the 2 littlest boys playing in the sand while the other kids were off playing somewhere nearby. We chatted at the picnic table enjoying the relative peace and quiet when all of the sudden we were hit with a wall of sand traveling up to 100 mph! We watched in horror as our 2 little boys were swallowed up by the sand. I ran to my 4 year old and did the only thing I could, I wrapped him up in a human cocoon to keep him safe while my bare arms and legs were pelted mercilessly by the flying sand. My mind was in a panic wondering where my other kids were but it was impossible for me to move the wind was so strong. As soon as it let up the littlest bit I picked up my son and ran for the tent thinking I would put him in it and search for my other kids. However I saw that the poles had come loose and were flying dangerously in the wind, it was about to collapse. I had to instead put him under the semi covered "porch" of tent number 2 and tell him to stay there with his eyes closed. I had no choice but to leave him to find my other 2 kids. I struggled against the sand and wind screaming their names but the storm was so loud no one could hear me. I started to panic. I had no idea where they were and no way to find them. I bumped into one of my nieces who yelled over the storm that she thought they made it to one of the RVs. I ran over there and opened the door. There was my 6 year old, on the floor of the RV curled up in the fetal position crying. My 8 year old daughter had found him tumbling down the road like a tumbleweed and rescued him. She sobbed to me, "I was with cousin Jacob too mom but I couldn't save them both. I had to save my brother. I don't know what happened to Jacob."

I think the storm (I hear they are called a microburst) lasted probably less than a minute but it felt like SO much longer. When it was all over everyone was safe but our camp was decimated. All of my stuff survived but only because we were on the side more sheltered by the trees, my siblings were not so lucky. Three tents were literally torn to shreds and their poles bent beyond repair. Everything we owned had sand in it. Even my camera which had been in my tent, in it's case, was full of sand. My sister's family spent the night in their van as nearly everything they brought was destroyed. The next day we packed up and left.

So what does this have to do with food storage? Well I learned that most of today's camping equipment is meant to be used in the cushiest of circumstances, in nice weather, in a nice campground. Of course you can buy extreme weather items, but who does that? Almost everything I own would be of no use unless conditions were basically beautiful.

I will say that when the weather was good everything functioned wonderfully. The hot showers were AMAZING and cooking was a breeze. I even brought my canned hamburger and made tacos. My siblings thought that was one of the coolest things ever, no need to refrigerate the meat, and didn't even have to cook it, just reheated it.

However, I'm no longer deluding myself into thinking that we could use our camping gear for any kind of long term, rugged emergency situtation. I'll have to consider that and make up a new plan. In the meantime, I am grateful that although I came by this knowledge the hard way, the only thing that was lost is replaceable. We feel so blessed that the people we love most were safe and in the end we were all reunited. After it was all over my mom said to me, "Why would God let this happen to us?" but all I can feel is gratitude that He protected us all when it did.


  1. Oh my goodness darling. You said nothing about this on facebook the other night. I am sorry you had to learn this lesson.Good luck.

  2. We were blown away at Arches last April. Completely destroyed our two tents, we lost a tarp and who knows what else. We are still finding sand in our duffels. We hope to go back someday, but with our sturdier tents. And not in April.

  3. Oh, Sherida, I can't even comment here. I have to call you.

  4. Amy- yes the maddening thing was the camp ranger tells us AFTERWARDS that shredded tents are common up there. Might be nice if they put a disclaimer on their website.........

  5. So what supplies will you be purchasing instead that are more durable? I haven't purchased any outdoor camping stuff yet and I want to make sure when I do it's good quality so I don't have to learn the hard way, Do you think that a wall tent is heavy enough?

  6. I'm going to have to do more research. They have heavy duty tents, especially military grade ones. The problem is they are durable, but also VERY heavy. Not the kind you can take camping for the weekend.....

  7. I have found that Smith and Edward's, in North Ogden Utah, carries military grade heavy duty tents. If you want more info let me know.

  8. Yep, I've been there. I like the tent they have set up in the back. Lots of options online as well.