I just returned from a six-day camping trip with family and friends in Arkansas. Somehow I managed to arrange it so that I had a cold that began and ended exactly when the camping trip did.
Wednesday was the low point. You know how your head feels when you smash it against the door frame of your car as you get in? (I sure do.) My head felt just like that — and like I’d smashed it again on the way out. In addition, my throat was sore, my joints ached and my nose was running. After supper I decided to do what I rarely do — take cold medicine.
We were probably 25 miles from the nearest pharmacy, but my wife always prepares for this sort of thing. She’d brought along a box of NyQuil Cold & Flu LiquiCaps. I took two, the recommended dosage.
Within minutes, I was totally loopy. My head felt as though it were stuffed with cotton and, even as I was talking, I knew I wasn’t making any sense. My wonderful family and friends enjoyed making fun of me, but since I kept falling asleep, it didn’t bother me much.
I gave up around 9:00 and climbed into my sleeping bag where I fell instantly asleep.
Around 12:30 on Thursday morning, I woke up and needed to make a trip to the bathroom, which was about 150 yards away. It was raining hard. I was even more loopy than I’d been earlier and could hardly move. I stumbled over to the door and unzipped the zipper, then reached for my shoes. I grabbed them and stuck them outside in the mud, then stepped into them.
Or I tried to step into them. My gym shoes are white. My wife and daughter also have white gym shoes. All of us piled them together in the same place in the tent. I’d grabbed my daughter’s shoes and my feet didn’t come close to fitting. I stepped back into the tent out of the rain and felt around for more shoes. This time I grabbed one of my daughter’s and one of my wife’s. I was only vaguely aware of what I was doing and kept putting the shoes back on the pile before grabbing others.
On my third try, I managed to grab one of my own and, again, one of my daughter’s. By this time, I was wet — and cold — and thoroughly incapable of thinking rationally. I fumbled around some more in the dark …
Which explains why, if you had been out and about in the campground at Devil’s Den State Park last Thursday morning at 12:35 or so, you would have seen a very unsteady man walking down the road wearing his right shoe on his left foot and his wife’s right shoe on his right foot. (It was a very tight fit.)
Cut ahead to Saturday. We were due to leave in the morning. The past two days had been warm and sunny, and my cold had receded considerably. There was rain in the forecast overnight. We didn’t want to take down our tent when everything was wet, so we debated the option of packing up in the evening and staying in a motel. We checked the weather every few hours, and, as the afternoon wore on, the chance of rain grew smaller — according to the forecast on the one TV station my brother-in-law could get in his camper. Everything was supposed to be finished by midnight, giving our tent several hours to dry off. We decided to stay.
When I woke up on Sunday morning, it was raining steadily. I knocked on the door of the camper and went inside. My brother-in-law had the news on. A map of Arkansas came up, showing where it was raining. It looked something like this …
We dumped all our wet stuff into plastic garbage bags and headed out. In spite of the cold and the weather, we had a fantastic time. I’d do it again with no hesitation. For the next week or so, I’ll post photos and fill you in on our other adventures.