The most important thing to know is that we survived last night. 😊
First things first: I learned to appreciate the finer points of campground etiquette. We had hunkered down around 1800 last night and didn’t emerge again until this morning. Even though it was early, the pitch black night and the sound of the rain made me very sleepy. I could feel myself drifting off to sleep and, last I had noticed, it was only 1900. That is, until the neighbors arrived.
<<Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and cousin Eddie.>>
A RV pulled into the campsite next to mine. During a break in the rain, I could hear what I guessed was two families unloading. One mom was yelling at a kid. Other kids were crying. Two men were trying to decide how to start up the generator, which was incredibly loud and sounded like the world’s largest refrigerator. They had music playing and the kids’ video games were going. And then there were the dogs. At least two small, yippy dogs. (Amazing how much you can know just from listening, right?) One dog escaped the confines of the RV/supervision of the people. Multiple times. I know this because each time it happened, the older kid would shine a flashlight at my tent while yelling for the dog and chasing it around. The mother also got in on this action. Had it happened only once, no big deal. I’m a dog lover, obviously, and I’d raise the dead to find my pup. But, repeatedly?! At that hour?! And while creating noise six other ways & shining the light into my tent?!?! C’mon! That is not how camping should go. Thankfully, my camp hosts informed them of the quiet hours and saved the day once again.
Back to the storm…
Holy moly! By California standards, and my current storm measuring stick, that was some storm we had! Pouring rain, big bangs of thunder, and flashes of lightening that lit up the whole sky. As intense as the storm was, it was also awesome. To be in a tent during a storm like that was so raw, so real. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like it. Charlie wasn’t sure what to think of the storm. Though he had passed out as soon as his head hit his doggy bed, he would wake up to particularly loud claps of thunder and press himself as close to me as possible. I woke up periodically, too. Each time, I would check all the corners of the tent to see if rain was getting in. Despite the anchor job, I did end up with a little water on the inside. I said a quick prayer and asked God to let me make it through the night without getting soaked. Apparently he heard me. Aside from a small portion of the foot of my sleeping bag and one edge of Charlie’s bed, we were dry! Pretty amazing, if you ask me.
Despite the stormy weather and Cousin Eddie’s clan, I woke up sans alarm in time for the sunrise. It was magnificent!
Bill & Jan came by my campsite to remove the stakes while Charlie & I were out for a walk. We returned just in time for them to impart a couple more pieces of camping wisdom and for us to say “happy trails.” Determined to be able to set up the tent myself, I made a beeline for Harbor Freight. Armed with my new knowledge, 12 wicked-sharp steel stakes, a rubber mallet, and a hammer, I am ready for our second night!
From town, we headed into the mountains to Big Bear Lake. I took my time on the windy mountain road, stopping frequently to take pictures along the way. Perhaps it was the higher elevation, but I found myself almost giddy as I drove through the trees…especially upon seeing the vibrant fall colors!
Big Bear is a charming little resort town. I didn’t explore the shops or restaurants at all, but I have added Big Bear to my list of places to return to one day. Perhaps when there is snow. And I’m staying in a cabin…sipping hot cocoa…sitting by the fire and reading a good book…
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. 😉
I made a pitstop at the Post Office and had the opportunity to chat with a young man that was hiking the PCT. He had come into town to resupply & was going to stay at a hostel. I guess I looked the part because, until I told him otherwise, he thought I was a through-hiker too! We didn’t exchange names or contact info, though I kind of wish we had. I’d love to hear more stories from the trail.
Tonight, I decided to camp at Pine Knot Campground. I arrived just after check-in, picked a site, and went to work setting up camp before it started raining again. I had the opportunity to meet my campsite neighbor, Eric, and thankfully he was nothing like the first bunch! He did seem to be a camping pro, though he forgot the marshmallows. 😉 Charlie & I spent the evening hanging out with Eric, just relaxing under his canopy. Once the rain subsided, Eric lit a gas bonfire. (Told you he’s a pro!) Regular fires aren’t permitted due to the dry conditions, but that didn’t prevent Eric (and Charlie & I) from enjoying traditional camping past times. Poor Eric, he might have gotten more than he bargained for when he invited us over…but it was nice to get to know him & to chat with someone for a bit. 😊
Time to turn in.