January 30, 2012 – Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

If you’re camping, weather becomes a far more troublesome aspect of life than it is when you’re staying at a hotel or at home. A sprinkle that you wouldn’t pay any attention to at home makes you rush to put things under cover while camping, lest you have to sit on wet chairs for hours after a ten minute shower. Even a windy day is a major cause for panic, as everything needs to be put away or tied down. No one wants to come back to a campsite to see a tent upside down and lodged against a tree hundreds of feet down the road.

When I got to the campground the other day, the first thing everyone mentioned was the possibility of severe weather today. As in, not just rain or wind, but big, big thunderstorms. Mostly, this is worry about the potential problems, but as with any weather, there is the underlying excitement about the upcoming weather, as if being able to survive weather while camping proves something about you as a human being (besides the obvious stupidity of being outside in a tent when you could be snug and warm in a hotel room somewhere).

The storms moving through today, though, are apparently bigger weather than a typical storm. Sometime yesterday afternoon, the winds picked up, and they have been steadily rising since that point. While I am typing this, there is a constant wind of 20+ miles per hour, and plenty of gusts that are much stronger. I put the big kid stakes on the tents last night, knowing the kid stakes the tents came with are nothing against these sort of strong winds.

As it was getting dark last night and I was cleaning up from supper, the campground host came by, provoking a barking fit from Choppy (which I am sure our fellow campers loved). Now, considering the previous time the campground host came by, he was the bearer of snake news, I was pretty sure he wasn’t here to bring me a beer, and the weather warning he handed me proved that correct.

Warning No. 1Or, put differently and as the campground host said, don’t leave the campground or you could be SOL and unable to get your things until the road clears up, which could be days.

Now, I feel like a bit of a bad weather veteran, having dealt with bad weather while camping and tailgating. I have my car here, which means I can escape a wet tent and sit in a heated space for a few hours (or overnight), which is not the case when you are out in a tent while canoeing or fishing. So, basically, I am thinking that I have it pretty good when it comes to the weather, even with the somewhat dire warning issued by the Park.

And then, the campground host came back, this time bearing treats for Choppy (still no beer for me, though). He was also the bearer of a second weather warning.

Warning No. 2 I’m guessing the bold means I should take the warning seriously.

As he brought treats, Choppy abandoned her previous barking at the campground host, and now decided he was her new best friend. As she was not barking, this also meant that we could have a chat, in which I noted the apparent contradictions in the notes. On the one hand, I’m not supposed to leave, but on the other, I am supposed to be ready to leave at any moment.

I am so confused. And I am sure there will be an update to this at some point. Hopefully from a non-evacuated campground.