Who's afraid of Jack Frost nipping at your nose.....your toes....your fingers...your ears...? Say "I". Or maybe its more like AYE AYE AYE! Man oh man, as if we didn't freeze our butts off enough opening weekend at Burlingame Campground in Rhode Island, we turned around the next weekend and did it again. Certainly it couldn't have been THAT bad then, right? Or maybe there was just some stuff that I really needed to get done for my Bound4Burlingame.com pages. Or maybe we're just gluttens for punishment. Whatever the case... I must say, we did in fact, get spanked pretty severely.
I guess I'll break down and admit we kinda brought it on ourselves. Thanks to the wonders of Doppler Radar, we already knew it was a 40% chance of rain. Fifteen or so rechecks later, it was officially official. We would indeed be "damp camping" part of the weekend. In a tent. Another pitfall, which we wouldn't discover until much later, was the fact that we were so distracted by the dark clouds looming across our iphone screens, that we neglected to take notice of the actual temperature. But trust me, one or two degrees does not make a huge difference when the thermometer is already hovering around the freezing point. It was only about 5:30pm at this point, so being wet AND cold AND hungry hadn't even began to enter our minds (or bodies yet). I didn't even pay much thought when my boyfriend remarked (numerous times) that he was on day two of a horrible aching pain developing around his jaw line....
The thing we were actually concentrating on at that particular minute, was getting to Foxwood's Casino in time for the night Bingo session. Which in fact did happen. What didn't happen? Well, that would be the ability to leave promptly after we dabbed our last losing card. You would think that at that second... or at some point over the next 4 1/2 hours, one of us would have noticed that another box on the weekend's Fail Card had been checked off. But noooooo! I guess we were probably too busy trying to track down a cocktail waitress for one of casino's infamous, yet scarce, "free" drinks.
Not like we had a choice or anything, but it was past time to leave. The clock was chiming 3:00am and the only hint of anything that resembles a smile om my face, was solely based on the fact that I still had a shirt on my back. We weren't even out of the parking garage yet when reality set in. Quicker than a slot machine could swallow up your last $20 bill...I had an awful feeling of ......hhmmmm...I couldn't quite put my finger on it. But, In the next 24 hours, I would become acutely aware that it was probably the same damn feeling that comes when an underdog competitor finds himself standing center ring surrounded by the all-star tag team of Mother Nature, Poseidon, The Joker, Father Time, Cujo, The Frito Bandito, Frosty the Snowman, and Dr. Feelgood. Forget the Rumble in the Jungle...Ali and Foreman would have run screaming from the pines had they known they were walking blindfolded into the smack down of the century.
I realize now I don't want to relive the gory details. I'll try to make a long story short.
It was pouring rain as we left the casino. And it seemed to be extremely cold. But, I was dry at that point, so I couldn't quite tell how bitter it was yet. We contemplated the decision to camp out...or I should say my boyfriend did. The pain and swelling in his face had multiplied in mere hours and the idea of turning around and heading back North to home (and a local hospital's emergency room) seemed a more attractive plan to him. But, after digging through my pocketbook to retrieve the remnants of some old discarded pain meds, he reluctantly agreed to trudge forward to Rhode Island. We started setting up in the downpour around 3:30am. Progress was slow due to freezing limbs, limited visibility, and lack of help (due to my boyfriend's pain level...which didn't seem so severe as he spent almost an hour attempting to build a fire in the rain.). Guess the pain meds had set in. The next surprise came when I opened our canvas bag to retrieve the air mattress, tent, lanterns, and the outdoor rug. I saw orange nylon. The only orange nylon material I knew of belonged to a salvage tent we picked up at an auction. Certainly, this orange wasn't part of the tent designed to comfortably fit ONE 4 foot high Boy Scout? Certainly he couldn't have made the mistake of packing the wrong tent? Certainly he saw that 2 yards of nylon couldn't possibly be the 4 person Spring season tent we've used in the past? Certainly, this is a joke. Certainly...certainly...oh God.
We wedged in the tiny tent (of course one of the poles were missing so it was about 1 1/2 foot high on one side and 2 1/2 feet on the other) . The queen air mattress was of no use. Wet sleeping bags absorbed more wetness from the sides of the tent, and through the ground. Heads in hats, on wet pillows. Wet feet in wet socks. Heavy hunting parkas, over fall jackets, over hooded sweatshirts, over long sleeved shirts...and wet jeans. I wondered if hypothermia was a possibility. I was sure it was. So cold. So very very cold. And the wind...would we wake to the Wicked Witch of the West's feet peeking out from under our wilderness abode? The only thing louder then the wind and rain...was my stomach. The hunger pains started taking repeated blows to my gut. Soggy corn chips was all we could muster up without disturbing our cave. I was gagging on my fourth limp chip when I hear the first howl. Coyotes? Maybe. I had heard them many times before coming from the other side of Watchaug Pond. But this thing poor thing sounded like it was in anguish! After about 15 minutes, I heard a man's loud shout of " JoJo- Get in here!" And the canine calls ceased. Unfortunately, it had set off every owl in the park. After some time, finally sleep came.... If that's what you could call it. A couple hours of slumber and the Emergency Room could not wait any longer.
Despite the fact that I was still tired, grumpy, and starving (not even a stop at McDonald's for a .99 cent coffee!)...the morning's pain (mine, not his) was diminished as we dragged ourselves through the emergency room doors. I saw the look on the receptionist's face as her eyes rose to meet ours. I think I actually heard her gasp. This wonderful woman must have seen the desperation in our eyes (again, mine not his). Westerly Hospital is the best! Within minutes of arriving, he was seen, made comfortable in a room, pumped full of morphine, blood drawn, and on his way to CTscan. They later found the culprit was a soft tissue infection. A couple weeks regimen of antibiotics and pain killers were prescribed. It better work.
We spent most of the afternoon drying out, resetting up, taking cold showers, browsing Walmart, and checking out the rebuilding going on down at Misquamicut. And although my boyfriend felt like Hurricane Sandy had also paid him a visit.....he insisted we return to Foxwood's Bingo that night. He was pretty much a trooper ( ok- a grumbling soldier in the trenches) the rest of our stay this trip. Next time, I'm paying more attention to the weather B-4 we go to C-A-M-P-O!!!!