Half a year ago, we made plans to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park over spring break. Plans rounded out with two other families in three sites side-by-side.
The Climbing Daddy, The Kid, and I have camped at Jumbo Rocks campground before, and the site we happened to be in had some great scrambling immediately behind us. So we reserved that one and one to either side (56, 57, 58, if you’re wanting to check it out).
We learned last week that rain was in the forecast, but we had the sites already reserved and figured if rain actually happened—we are desert-dwellers—we’d make the best of it.
We set up shop on Sunday, explored a little, ate dinner, enjoyed being with fun people in a beautiful place.
Monday morning we had a slow breakfast and clouds slowly rolled in. Not ominous, but not inspiring hope.
We took a hike, climbed on some rocks, found a nice spot to site and have lunch, explored some more. Kids had a great time.
Back at camp, the rangers came by and let us know it was expected to start raining around 11 that night.
A couple of the guys went into town for forgotten items and said that in their travels, they felt the air change, saw the clouds become ominous, agreed that we weren’t getting out of this dry.
We had dinner and decided we were going to pack into the cars everything that we didn’t specifically need to sleep.
On a short tangent, meals with three families, when we didn’t coordinate ahead of time, were so much fun. We all shared everything and ended up with a hodgepodge of tastiness that we wouldn’t have had on our own. Yum!
Back to the story.
We also realized that at least two of us had never had our tents in the rain and didn’t know if our rain flies were useful.
Finally, I thought … this is dumb. Why are we packing up everything except tents and sleeping bags in hopes that we’re not up at 2 a.m. wet from the rain? And without anywhere to cook (if it were still to be raining the next day)? Let’s just go into town and stay at a hotel.
Part of me felt stupid for suggesting this plan. Was I just being “soft” because I’m not a die-hard camper? Or because the first night had been unexpectedly cold?
The other part of me knew that my plan was grounded in reasonable real-life. We weren’t trapped in the wilderness—we were on a spring break trip to a national park with three kids under 10 and one barely older.
After many small conversations, adults in attendance agreed this was a good plan. We left the tents (to see if they could take the rain) and went into town.
One of the littles fell asleep on the way. Two others played chess until they fell asleep. The older played on his iPad for a while.
Adults drank beer and played Cards Against Humanity.
We were all warm and dry.
And it rained. Not at 11, but the next morning, the ground was soaked and puddles were abundant. In our tent? Puddles.
Whether the decision was solid going into it, it was retroactively justified.
I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time and still forget from time to time — it’s not always bad to quit.