We are just back from, not only our first camping trip of the season, but the first trip with our new camper. Last year we started the tradition of naming our campsites...this came after we stayed in New Jersey at a campground on a "farm like" setting. I'm a sucker for rolling hills and baby animals frolicking in the sunshine. Oh sure, they rolled out the piglets, baby bunnies, and newborn lambs. In fact, a goat was born minutes after we arrived - it was adorable. However, we ended up naming that campsite "Toxic Waste Dump" after realizing we must have been on a former landfill. Baby animals or not, Little Kelly doesn't camp on trash. In fact, this is where we inherited the THOUSANDS of ants that invaded our camper (see previous post from last year).
Anyways, I digress. I do ALOT of research on every place we visit. I'll admit it...I have a binder for each trip. It includes our itinerary for each day, menu for each day, frequent recipes so I can just whip them up on the road, and various brochures on the location we are visiting. This trip was no different. I did tons of research and in fact, we initially wanted to stay on Tybee Island but the one campground there did not get good reviews. We ended up staying at a campground in Savannah that got great reviews and even though the website wasn't extensive, the pictures all looked fantastic. And yes, there were rolling fields and animals...a barn full of horses, goats, a beautiful pool, and a fishing pond.
We arrived to find the campground right off a fairly major road....similar to Rt.9. The rolling fields in the picture turned out to be one big open green field with only 12 camper sites around it. There was a fire pit...one small one for everyone in the middle of the field. On the right was a grain store....where apparently every farmer in Savannah, and apparently there are a lot of them, was pulling in every few minutes. The barn did have horses but they appeared to be a bit underweight. The fishing pond was beautiful but you couldn't stay for more than a minute because the bugs swarmed you like a used car salesman on a Sunday afternoon. And yes, there was a pool that looked fantastic...glistening in the sun...but it was locked and we couldn't get in. Apparently there were in the process of being "re-certified"..whatever that meant...and the pool was closed. This was the site we saw after driving for two days. Breathe.
The alarm went off at 2:45 am on Saturday morning. We were on the road by 3:45. Our destination: Kelly & Dave's in Mount Pleasant, SC...a 17 hour drive. It was raining when we left and only got worse. By the time we hit Virginia it was raining in sheets...sideways. Let me be clear, Virginia isn't for lovers...it's for traffic lovers. We spent 7 1/2 mind numbing hours driving through this traffic mecca. At one point, I had dozed off. The car was hot, I had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep, and the rain was lulling me to sleep. I woke up to Tim frantically pulling off the highway mumbling "I can't take it....must stop..." Let's be clear. Timmy never gets flustered by things. He's a steady eddy that just deals with things very calmly. That is until he sits in 7 1/2 hours of traffic, hauling a camper, and being pelted by sheets of rain. It was on this trip that I learned what can break Timmy. We pulled into a Stop & Shop and he walked around the parking lot in the pouring rain. After we all took a bathroom break and we looked at the map, we decided to try and alternate route. Timmy's spirits rose...until we reached the alternate route...and the traffic that was stopped dead in its tracks.
It was at this point that we heard on the radio "There is a tornado warning for blah, blah county...and if you can hear this, that means you may be affected." Now, this isn't the first time we have heard either a tornado or hurricane warning while we were camping. Typically we see or hear it on the news listing a variety of counties that might be affected. We never know what county we are in so on one hand, I appreciated that the warning said we may be impacted, but on the other hand, I didn't want to be meet by a tornado. It was around this time that Kelly started texting me to say that a tornado was headed in our direction and we should use caution. We stopped for dinner and asked the waiter about it...he didn't seem phased at all and said it didn't seem to be a big deal. In fact, everyone and their mother seemed to be out on the road or in the restaurant.
Now, I am not a super religious person but I do have strong faith and I do believe that things happen for a reason...and that God's plan is behind those reasons. Well, I think God was behind the 7 1/2 hours of traffic in Virginia...because if we hadn't hit that snaffu, we would have been right in the middle of the tornados that hit North Carolina. I am a firm believer that God was on our side, after seeing the damage the next morning. We ended up staying just over the North Carolina border for the night and started out on the road around 6 am the next day. Within a 1/2 hour on the road, we came across the devestation. A whole mobile home park had been destroyed..nothing left but what looked like trash. It was actually the homes pulverized into little bits. You could see the line where the tornado came through. There were trees snapped into jagged pieces and billboards were decimated on the highway. There were trees down in sporadic spots for miles. I am thankful for the traffic that day...honestly, I think it saved our lives.
I have so much more to say about this trip but I'm going to break it up into smaller posts. Hopefully you'll be so intrigued with this post, that you'll come back for more! Stay tuned for our visit to South Carolina and Savannah, Ga!