Ah, 3 days of studying the forecasts for here (E. Syracuse), and for Laurens, NY to make the final decision of whether to go, or stay home. Can we get loaded without everything getting wet? Can we set up before it rains? Will the site be dry enough to set up our tent on? We decided to set out as early as we could, so if we had to sit in the bus until it stopped raining enough to set up, we'd still have daylight left to do it in.
Packing up went smoothly; quick stop to get gas, ice and cash; and we are on the road at 1 PM. Went out 290 past Green Lakes out to Chittenango, then down 13 to Cazenovia, then across on 20 until we picked up 51 south to the campground. Saw a VW bus just before Chittenango behind a pond of a nursery there; saw a splittie in Bouckville in a car lot, and another bus in someone's dooryard further west on 20. Many waves, and peace signs, nice to have the two lanes on Rte 20 for the slow hill climbs, but Putt-Putt did just fine. By the time we got east enough to see the windmill farms, it was raining. Hmm.... "54% chance of rain, occasionally heavy at times"... Why is it whenever we go by them it is raining? The farther south we went on Rte 51, the further into the wilderness we felt like we were going, the roads getting narrower, the non-existent shoulders to the road, riding through beautiful farm country that reminded us of Vermont when we lived there....and then..... like the blink of the eye.... A BREWERY..... huzzaa!!! Something to do on Saturday, or maybe on the trip back on Sunday!!!! No time to waste now, must get to the camp site to set up. After turning off Rte 51 onto Rte 12, the narrow road, became narrower, the sides of the road itself slightly washed out, and the hills steeper. Then we started seeing the deer; 4 before we got to our campsite. Signing in at the park office was snap (they love pre-registered!!), and off up the hill (and up, and up) to the hilltop area camping. Only one other bus there before us; Bob had arrived about ½ hour before us, and he was wondering if it was a prank and no one else was coming!!!
Arrived at 4:30 to the site, to find it was damp, but no standing water, sloping toward the site to our side where there WAS standing water. Super, looks pretty grassy, easy to get the tent stakes into, back the bus in, let it find it's "happy place" (where it wants to sit without rolling), and start deploying. Now wait a minute, we have no table... but ah, the site next to us, has two. Grab one, leave it out of the way, but get it onto the site to throw stuff on, so it doesn't have to go on the damp ground. Tent unrolled. Oops headed the wrong way... 180 degree turn... darn... it WAS going the right way.... 180 degrees back.... Bob had offered to help us set up, and one more set of hands made things go a little quicker. Thread the rods, stake the ends, put in the braces. Oh, bummer, Bob cut his finger!!! Sorry Bob!!! Yes, we do have a band-aid here somewhere.. Patch up Bob's finger. Deploy inside of tent. More stakes around the tent. Still fairly cool, not too muggy, but the sky is pretty overcast and dark for that time of day. Discuss about putting up the E-Z Up. If we put it right in front of the doors of the tent with the canopy anyways, and MAYBE we will have a place to sit when it does rain. Sounds good; back to deploying and staking. Then, we hear thunder, and a few rain drops. Get the EZ up, up quick. Never gone up faster.. now grab everything off the table sitting out in the rain, that can't be in the rain and put under canopy or inside of tent. Rich stakes the EZ up while it is pouring, and gets soaked to the skin. Rich sets up the "big boy chair" under the canopy, and sits and watches the lightening and the rain coming down (cats, dogs & chickens, oh my!!). I cower in the bus where I swear the lightening is hitting the trees right behind the tent. As it lessens a little, Rich comes in, changes into dry(er) clothes, and joins me in the bus, and we raid the cooler (what do you mean, "do I have any food in here?"..... duh!!!) for our supper. After about an hour of steady hard rain, it eases up a bit, and we venture out to bring the picnic table under the EZ up, and set up our kitchen. What walking we did through the area in front of the tent doing that, and we are already down to mud in the entire area. I knew there was some reason why I brought all these table covers, as they got pressed (literally) into service keeping the worst of the mud under them, and less of it tracked into the tent. Then sopping up some water that did seep into the tent, nothing critical got wet.
Visit a little bit with others who have arrived; mention to our arrived neighbors (Bill & Chris Waelder), that the National weather service did mention a chance of flash flooding, and I believe they said specifically into site 66 (Their site was the area of runoff for the entire area sites 62 to 73). Just started to get settled into evening mode, and "here we go again...." A few more "rain drops falling on my head..." but no one is singing..... Oh, well, going to be one of those weekends!! Rich and Bill each start a fire, to see who can make one faster and bigger (what kind of accelerant are you boys using???), and eventually the guys end up around Bill's fire drinking brews, and the girls end up at our table drinking Appletinis (camping style) (note to self, bring cinnamon sticks next time!) and playing a dice game that involves very little thinking so it is perfect for playing while drinking.
Then off to bed, settling into the warm soft comfort of sleeping bags, air mattresses, and cots. Saturday dawns fairly bright, up not too early, set up the stove, make coffee, eggs, & toast, and settle into read. Then.... "here we go again!!!" it's raining again. Just a quick shower to remind us we are out in the elements. Passes quickly, we gather in groups to wait it out, and chat with each other. Rich & I take off to drive back to the brewery "Butternuts Beer & Ale" in Garrettsville. Nice little place, great art on their standard stock cans, and Ooooh!.. they have growlers of some specialty beers. Good prices too!! We leave with a growler, and a 6 pack, and while traveling north, meet 3 more VW buses traveling south to join the fun-many waves, toots and we pass on by; We run into some rain on the road, grab some lunch at a place on the corner of 51 and 80 while watching it rain outside, and watching a really BAD movie on their TV in Spanish, which Rich can figure out the plot of, even though we can't understand a word. Drive down 80 a couple of miles to pick up some more milk, and then back to the campsite. See more deer... Our numbers of buses has swelled now... 3 up above in the loop next to us, as well as the 7 in our loop.
Then Phil & Kevin arrive in their buses, and Joe Murphy in his Ford (that's okay, we've all done it from time to time! Hope we didn't scare you too much).... We sit and read some more, thinking about when we need to make a fire so we'll have coals to cook supper on. Well, maybe we should just start it now, just "in case" it decides to rain again..... Rich gets a good small fire going, I cut up vegetables and make two foil packets to cook on the coals, and we start cooking them. Then... oh, my... NOT AGAIN.... Yup, it's raining again. We leave the dinners cooking and tuck under the canopy and contemplate how we'll know when the packets are done. At least the foil packets are perhaps keeping the rain from putting out the coals?!?! It stops raining, and we declare the packets as done as they are going to be, and eat under the EZ up as the trees continue to shed the latest rain.
Then it's another fire competition (how much accelerant are you putting on there?!?!), and the boys gather around the fire, and the girls play cards on the table (yes, more Appletinis....). Kevin and Ethan join us, and Phil wanders on in. Phil is fascinated by the large size cards we are using, and then we point out the "big boy" chair, and he goes and sits in it..... then he notices that we have a teensy-weensy bottle of apple vodka we are using for the drinks, and he announces that he feels like he is "down the rabbit hole" with things that should be big, being small, and things that should be small, being big. Sorry, Phil, we didn't mean to freak you out!!! Another nice night for sleeping, and Sunday dawns bright and beautiful, no sign of rain, warm, but not too warm. We break down slowly, enjoying (finally) the nice weather. We get out of there about 1:00, and head back the way we came. Well, we are going right by, why not stop again at the Brewery? Take a picture of the bus in front of the sign there, and off again. A few rain drops here and there, back by the busses we saw on the way down. Stop at "Troops Scoops" in Bouckville, with a great view of 20 windmills on the ridge there, and some great diner food and specialty ice cream.
Hit home at 4:30. Rich checks on the garden, we unload the bus, start laundry, put dishes in the dishwasher, then set up the tent so it can dry out, and yes, you guessed it... it's raining again!!! Time to shower, charge the cell phones and camera, and catch up on email. Then back to reality and the stupid day job. Have to make the money to buy the beer somehow :-) ......
Great camping weekend!!! Enjoy the pictures.......
Sherrie & Richard Coombs East Syracuse, NY '71 VW Bus, with Taj Mahal side tent