There’s nothing quite like a thunderstorm and a trip to the emergency room to make a camping trip exciting.
But first let’s start with this baby bunny! It’s so small and still pretty skittish. Its parents have made a life for themselves in the juniper bushes at my parents house. I swung by their place to drop Roxy (my 10 year old Cairn Terrier, more about her in another post if y’all want to know) off for the night so my friend and I could go camping.
As you know from my previous entry I like to be overly prepared for situations. Whether it be injury, animal attack, getting lost, vehicle breaking down, I have something to help remedy the situation. But let’s get into the trip and start from the beginning.
Shortly after work on Friday I met up with a longtime friend to go head down the highway to where we wanted to go camping. We’d been talking for a while about going out camping before the state implements a burn ban, and also to celebrate my birthday as I will actually be out of town for it (the upcoming Phoenix trip in the calendar).
We met up at the store to grab a few more essentials that we’d not gotten, mainly ice and beer. You know, important things for camping! I handed him a radio and we set out on the highway. Handheld radios are great when you’re in any sort of convoy so you don’t have to rely on cell service to be able to communicate, it’s instant, and just works. Where we were going I knew didn’t have any cell service and there’s places along the drive that didn’t have cell service so I wanted to be able to still get in touch with each other. The trip was about an hour to get where we were going but unfortunately for us there was a thunderstorm overhead. At minimum it was raining but there was lightning somewhere in the storm. We spent all but the last 10 minutes or so driving in a downpour.
We finally arrived at the area we wanted to camp but the next step was to find a site we could use that wasn’t already taken. as we cruised through the region we found a spot and I had my friend wait back at that site until I could venture forward and see if we could find a better spot. Fortunately just down the road about a mile I found a bigger spot with a lot flatter layout. Which when tent camping is very important. We jumped out of our rigs and quickly pulled the tent out of my toolbox and began setting it up (there was only rain at this point, had we seen lightning or heard thunder we would have waited because that would be way too dangerous). Bear in mind I’ve not set this tent up before as it’s a brand new tent for the season. It’s a 6 person Coleman Fast Pitch (or so it claims). This is a spot where it’s going to be do as I say, not as I do. Test your tent setup before you get to a camp site. Make sure all parts are there, make sure there’s no tears or rips in it. Now we were fortunate that all the parts were there and the tent was perfectly built. That being said we quickly got the base staked down and the posts in the main dome. There’s also a front room on this tent that has a fine mesh screen to keep out the bugs that we got set up quickly. The difficult part we ran into was not knowing how the rain cover went on. We were fighting high winds and rain while trying to figure this piece out. We finally (after multiple rotations of sides) figured out how it went on and got it all tied down and staked in. Right as the rain storm let up.
Then the mosquitos decided to make an appearance, so we doused ourselves in bug spray. I think that’s one thing I left off of my list of things I keep with me. Keep some of that with you as well. We took a little break at that point to get warm and I changed shirts to something dry. We cracked a beer and a short time later I started going through my usual emergency briefing. Showing where all emergency gear, first aid, tools, etc. were.
GRAPHIC WARNING: SKIP TO NEXT SECTION IF YOU’RE SQUEAMISH! You’ve been warned. It’s not too late to move to the next paragraph. Alright, so about 5 minutes after the gear briefing my friend was chopping up wood and kindling for the fire when he got to a very small piece and was chopping it up even smaller and the axe slipped off the wood and filleted his left index finger. I watched as he quickly grabbed his finger and I jumped into the back seat of my truck to grab the first aid kit. We retrieved gauze and he started applying pressure. Never remove the gauze if it’s soaked through, add more gauze. This keeps pressure on the wound. He initially told me he was fine and we could just bandage it. It wasn’t until he told me he saw the bone in his knuckle that I told him we were going to the Emergency Room to get it stitched back up. We applied another layer of gauze then a gauze wrap that held the initial gauze in place. We quickly secured our gear (leaving the tent up) in my rig and in his and jumped in to his rig where I drove him to the nearest town with an Emergency Department.
TLDR: Chopping wood, my friend cut his finger pretty bad and we headed to the nearest town for the Emergency Department. If you have emergency contacts or people that know where you are camping it is important to let them know if you leave the area where you told them you would be, especially if there is an emergency. I called my mother on the drive into town who knew where we were camping to advise them we may need some help, depending on what the doctor said, getting camp tore down and my rig picked up. We arrived at the Emergency Department in about 30 minutes and fortunately it was a smaller town so they weren’t busy. I’m fairly certain he was the only patient in the ED. They walked him straight into the room and I stepped into the waiting room to update everyone on the status and keep arrangements in place. The staff was fantastic and within an hour had him all stitched up, immobilized, and checked out.
Now my friend, not to be deterred, had decided he wanted to finish out the night. So we jumped back into the rig and headed back to camp, letting emergency contacts know we’d be back at camp. Once we got back we dropped the firewood into the pit, ignited ourselves a nice little fire and stoked it for 30 minutes or so before breaking out the hot dogs. Man were those tasty.
The best part of any camping trip is when you can finally sit down around the camp fire and just relax. Conversations at the campfire are the best. The sounds of nature all around. Barking coyotes that feel way too close to camp and random noises in the brush. We had several hours of no rain or wind to enjoy our fire as we wound down before going to sleep. Off in the distance we could hear the highway we came in on, and would laugh every time we heard someone hit the rumble strip. It’s amazing how well you can hear things so far in the distance when it’s dead quiet around you otherwise. Then the rain started again and it was time to make our way into the tent.
Morning comes early when you’re out camping. I woke up several times throughout the night because I forgot my pad and didn’t use my cot. Lesson learned, I’m not built like I used to be. At about 4:30 in the morning I woke up and decided I should go back to sleep. I slept again until about 6:15 and finally crawled out of my sleeping bag at about 6:30. I bought myself a new 17″ Blackstone grill to be able to take with me any time I go on a trip. It was time to give this thing a whirl. Yes I’m aware I didn’t season it before I started using it, but I don’t have the ventilation at my place to get it to the smoke point. I did, however, use bacon to start to season it and get the bacon grease all over it. We cooked up some leftover dogs, some bacon, and some hashbrowns. I then toasted some sourdough bread on the grill and we munched. Teardown after breakfast was much easier than setting everything up.
All in all, I am so glad we went, I very much needed that trip and it was a great example of how things can go wrong, but being prepared can make those things much easier to deal with.