Monsoon camping

So we were out in the monsoon this weekend in upstate Pennsylvania. Those of you who live around Philadelphia know that it scarcely rained here during the weekend. Not so up in the mountains. If you look at this radar image from the weekend, you can see a blob of red and yellow storm activity on the left, right around the 9:00 clock position. That’s where we were.

Luckily for us, it wasn’t all monsoon all the time. In fact, when we drove into camp Friday night we were traveling under sunny skies. We had some passing rains overnight Friday into Saturday. Then the rain held off Saturday morning into early afternoon, which gave us enough time to do some butterfly hunting and some breakfast cooking. We had the traditional Saturday morning pancakes.

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If you dare my friend Greg to drink the pancake batter, he will:

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Yuck.

The kids were eager to go swimming – this was a deluxe KOA campground, with all kinds of resort-like amenities – so Chelsea and Greg’s wife Aly took them down to the pool, while Greg and I reinforced the campsites for rain.

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I should mention here that Chelsea and I were in the rare position of parenting only one kid for the weekend. Nick has been in Florida the past several days visiting friends and family. Maria stayed home with dear Aunt Kate for the Taylor Swift concert. That meant Anna was an only child for a couple days. She relished the attention.

The kids came back from the pool, and Greg and I then took them to the playground while the mothers rested and cleaned up. A spitting rain slowly turned into a drizzle.

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The rain started coming down harder, so we took the kids to the video arcade for some indoor fun. Anna played a game called Deal or No Deal that spat out over 100 prize tickets. The girl is a force of nature.

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The campground also had a new recreation center and ice cream shop, so we wandered over there to play some games.

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Greg and I had hung up a tarp over the picnic table, so we had a dry place to hang out without being cooped up in the camper. It was tough being in the camper because the weather was both warm and rainy, which meant we couldn’t really open the flaps. The picnic table was the place to be.

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The rain poured down for a few hours in the afternoon, and then seemed to let up around 5:00. We decided to head over to Swatara State Park, adjacent to the campground. Swatara has a fossil pit that is open to visitors. The ground is being eroded there, exposing sedimentary rock that contains fossils from the ocean floor. What is now North America used to be the bottom of a vast prehistoric sea. Seashell and trilobit fossils are abundant in this area.

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The rain picked up again. We headed back to the campground, and got the kids on the carousel. Yes, carousel! The campground has a small area with some rides, including a carousel and a Ferris wheel. Most of the other rides were not running because of the rain, but the carousel was enclosed in its own building.

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Next, the kids did a craft in the art room. The adults got in on the crafting action, too.

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We ventured out of the campground to get dinner at a 1950s-style dinner up the road. Sheets of rain continued to fall on us, on our campsite, and on the Lesters’ tent, which was turning out to be more leaky than you would expect from a brand-new tent. Water was pooling inside their tent at the corners, and nearly every seam was leaking. Around midnight, they decided it was just easier to head for home. They left behind the tent and about half of their gear, which Greg came back in the morning to collect.

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Like the Mother’s Day weekend trip, I can’t gloss this one over with nostalgia. We got soaked, our camper leaked a bit and was stifling hot inside, and the new tent was a disaster for the Lesters. A successful camping weekend does not include abandoning ship in a midnight downpour.

However, we couldn’t have picked a better campground for a rainy weekend. There were so many indoor activities available that the kids were busy and happy the whole time. Our first experience with a KOA campground was very good.

Tomorrow: Back to Yellowstone!