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Monday, February 20, 2017

In-Tents Weekend #2

What’s more fun than a campout?

Camping out near the beach, of course!

The second of two camping trips offered to Mason’s Cub Scout pack this month was on Tybee Island. I’ve always wanted to go there ever since I heard about it back before I got married; as for Mason, he was entranced by the idea of camping out completely surrounded by water.

Backpack on wheels. There’s more room behind
the seats than you might think.
Having made notes about what we needed most on the last trip, I was able to do more with even less this time. It helped that I found my old backpacking stove, which is far more compact than what everyone else had, and a few other things. Seeing as Tybee is a nearly 6-hour drive from FAR Manor, I took Friday off work for the drive down (Mason’s school was out), and figured we had to leave by 11am to have enough light to set up camp. We got moving at 11:05, which goes to show that the fewer people you have involved in a trip, the less late you’ll be.

Last time I had gone to Savannah was when Daughter Dearest was in high school, going to either All-State Choir or GMEA. One thing I’d forgotten from those days: I’m sure Cat Stevens got the idea for his song Miles from Nowhere while traveling on I–16. What a boring drive that is. Fortunately, I’d brought a couple of frapps along, and I consumed them both. Mason used one of the empties when he went from “don’t need to go” to “freaking out” in 10 minutes. I swear, that kid’s bladder is the size of a walnut.

But we got to the campsite in good order, and got the tent set up before it got dark. Some of the other families came down on Thursday, and did set up in the dark. Mason immediately took to haring around with the other scouts while the adults got supper together and went over some of the things planned for the weekend. I also kept a close eye on the weather forecast; there had been a 30% chance of rain for Saturday predicted earlier in the week, which dropped to 20% then came back up to 30%. Mason went full-tilt until about 10pm, at which point I told him to curl up in the sleeping bag with the iPad for an hour. I cut him off at 11… he said, “I’m not gonna go to sleep,” and was snoring five minutes later.

Now let me tell you about the campsite. It’s a pretty big RV park, and was far busier than I’d expected for mid-February. The tent area abuts the local cop shop—and the rear entrance is actually inside the campsite. That meant we were treated to diesel motors and backup beepers at 3am, as they brought in an impounded car, and plenty of white noise from the facility’s HVAC units. At least it wasn’t as cold as the Scoutland trip—in fact, the coldest it got was about the same as the warmest at Scoutland. On the other hand, Scoutland didn’t have a problem with bugs. As it turns out, the gnat line has crept up past Savannah, and I’ve added “bug spray” to our must-haves for future trips.

Concentrated joe…
Next morning, I put the backpacking stove on an unused grill, and started making espresso. The other guys were impressed with both the stove and the maker, both of which I bought around 1983 or so. So I played camp barista and helped everyone fortify themselves for the day ahead. Amazing, how a few shots of black espresso go down soooo good when you’re camping out.

Barefoot on the beach. Even if it’s a bit cool.
Because the next event was the whole point of island camping… the beach! If you’ve never been to Tybee, there’s North Beach, pretty highly commercialized and near the lighthouse. But there’s a second beach area that’s a lot quieter, close to the river mouth. The water was about as cold as I expected, which meant I didn’t bring Mason a swimsuit. But that didn’t stop him from kicking off his shoes and plunging in with the other boys anyway. eye roll I figured I had another change of clothes for him, so no biggie. WRONG! I could have sworn I packed some extra pants, but I didn’t. I had an extra shirt, that was it. It required a trip to a Dollar General to find him another pair of pants that only cost $6 and he’ll wear some more anyway. But walking back was pretty miserable for him.

Sleeping was a little tough this trip. Not because it was cold, but Mason was determined to hog the entire air mattress, and I found myself on the verge of falling off several times. No matter what time we went to bed, he woke up at his usual 7am—pretty much before anyone else cared to drag themselves into the world of the living.

So “here comes the rain,” and we all did our personal anti-rain dances—tying down rain flies, moving air mattresses into the middle of the tents, stashing stuff in the tents or cars. I think my own dance steps may have put the final knife in the rain: I got the ponchos and umbrella out of the car, within easy reach, and put the car cover on. 15 minutes later, we had six drops of rain and the sun came out.

Tybee Light in the background
We capped off the weekend with a walk to North Beach on Sunday morning. Mason was mad because he couldn’t jump into the ocean again, but I let him pull up his pant legs and wade. He was okay with that, because the water temperature was (as he put it) “ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE!!!”

Finally, we started back to the manor. Up Boredom Boulevard (a/k/a I–16), more frapps consumed, one more Mason bladder-panic, and returned by six. I got Mason into the bath right away, but I didn’t get my shower until around nine (what I want or need is automatically less important than… well, anything). The tent got a heavy dew fall, and I needed to put it up to air out, and that didn’t happen either. Oh well, I took care of that tonight. The Miata isn’t happy about the garage being occupied, but we’ll all deal. Tomorrow, I’ll pack it up and we’ll be all set for next time.

Speaking of which, I think next time I’ll try using one sleeping bag as a pad on the air mattress, and another as a blanket. And, as Mason pointed out, we need to add pillows to the packing list.

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