Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our camping trip turned out great, especially since it almost didn’t happen.

About 2 hours into our drive, we stopped for lunch. As we pulled through the drive-through, one of the wheels hit a cement post protecting the restaurant’s corner. It was LOUD. We pulled around to the parking lot and Hubby assessed the damage. The impact was enough to bend the camper’s axle and wheel was angled outward. He called AAA while Peanut and I went inside for lunch. Peanut was wearing his Superman shirt (what else) and the ladies were so sweet to him. They made sure to find Superman and Validus to go in our h@ppy me@ls. (Peanut already had one of each, but I didn’t have the heart to say anything. They knew he liked super heroes and went the extra mile to find toys they thought he would like.) Hubby eventually came in and tried to eat. AAA will only tow a camper or trailer if the vehicle originally towing it is broken down. He called the camper manufacturer, ordered a new axle, and we decided to attempt going on. Hubby also noticed that the plastic roof vent cover had shattered and come off in the parking lot. (This was unrelated to the accident. I noticed a small crack in the cover a while back. UV light is tough on plastics.)

We got back onto the interstate, then took the next exit to check the tires. Rubber was coming off the tire in little balls. We stopped again a few exits later and the wear didn’t seem as noticeable. We said our prayers and continued on our way, with Hubby keeping an eye on the tire in the side mirror. We made it to the exit for the state park and Hubby noticed a lot of wear when we stopped at a traffic light. We pulled into a parking lot and realized the tire was worn down to the belts. Our car’s jack miraculously worked on the camper, and for some reason Hubby had thought to bring the tire iron from our other car. Peanut and I walked around and and made several stops to look at a polka-dot wasp moth while Hubby changed the tire.

We arrived safely at the campground and walked down to the river to unwind and give Peanut a change to burn off some energy. We saw a sheriff’s office boat and a huge freighter, both of which Peanut loved. We headed back to camp to get the screen room set up and to start dinner. We didn’t finish cooking until dark and by the time we ate, a possum and a raccoon had stopped by to check things out. Dinner was delicious.

I cleaned up and left a crusty pan to soak. Peanut started getting bored, so we got ready for bed, climbed in the camper, and played a DVD. That’s when the raccoon decided to really check things out. I found it with its paws in the dish water. I dumped everything out and locked the dirty pan in the galley. Shortly after lights out, we could hear raccoons on the camper. This went on all night and I even had a dream that they got into our coolers and dragged our food all over the campground. Morning revealed our coolers were still intact and bungeed to the camper, covered in muddy little pawprints.

We went to a mechanic recommended by the rangers and arranged to drop the camper off on Sunday. (Hubby has since arranged to have the axle shipped directly to them. They will also sell us a new tire.) The rest of the day was fun. We saw the Amelia Island lighthouse and several little crabs. We visited the riverside beach. We also went to the Atlantic beach and fishing pier. The water was rough (we later found out about the tropical storm off the Carolinas) and Peanut was scared, so we played in the sand and only went into the shallow water. Peanut loved the fishing pier and would have been happy to help the folks who were fishing.

After a nap, Peanut and I went back down to the river while Hubby started supper. This time we ate well before dark. We went back to the river at sunset to enjoy the scenery and saw several bats! While Peanut played with his flashlight, we noticed schools of fish in the water. When we shined (shone?) the beam at the right angle, we could see their shimmering bodies.

Peanut wasn’t into hanging out in the screen room after dark, so we took showers and retired to the camper. Shortly after lights-out, we heard the raccoons again. This time there was a suspicious ripping sound. The garbage bag was within their reach, and one stood up and tore it open. Hubby peaked out his door and saw five masked bandits pawing through our trash. We both got out and watched the show. Those furry guys were brazen. They worked at our coolers throughout the night, but weren’t able to get in.

After breakfast, we broke down camp. A couple of our neighbors came over and informed us they lost 32 ears of corn and 6 pounds of sausage to the raccoons during the night...I'm so glad they weren't able to get into our food. We dropped the camper off at the mechanic’s, then returned to see the fort. I can’t imagine sleeping on the cots those poor soldiers had. Even worse, the enlisted men had to share a latrine – a bunch of small pits in a row without seats. I imagine the smell must have been awful in the summer. At least the officers had their own private latrines with seats. The cannons were impressive. The hospital area and supply rooms were neat, too.

We all started getting hot and decided to call it a day. We piled back into the car and had an uneventful trip home.

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