Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We've outdone ourselves...

This has been a rough summer for relaxing.  Our camping hasn't been completely calm (see earlier post: "How to Become a Camping aFISKionado").  When my parents came to visit their car died and everyone got sick (see earlier post: "7734").  And when my in-laws came a couple weeks ago, sure enough, their car died too and was out of commission the entire weekend.  Still, optimism reigns around here, so were really looking forward to our trip to do some camping with Bryan's family on Assateague Island down near Maryland.

We made our reservation months in advance and have been counting down the days, excited to try camping on the sand, with ocean waves crashing just yards away, enjoying relaxing afternoons hanging out with Bryan's family, the children romping along the beach, gazing up at the stars in the evening while roasting marshmallows, and hopefully getting to see some of the island's famous wild ponies.  Yes!  A little bit of real R&R were finally headed our way!

Things started out well enough.  We were on the road early Wednesday morning, our Sienna packed to the gills with children, camping gear, and suitcases (we planned to finish the weekend going to church with Bryan's folks on Sunday.)  We were sure we'd be there by 3:00 in the afternoon, and since we knew some of our best weather was going to be that first day we planned to take full advantage by hitting the water right away.  Sitting there listening to the radio and chatting with Bryan, the kids giggling and enjoying the sheer joy of a roadtrip, everything seemed so perfect I could almost feel the sand between my toes already.

Early start equals early naps for the kiddos.  Love how Robyn is sleeping in this picture!

And then, about half-way there,
                as we were driving down Interstate 476 near Allentown,

                                                                                                  this happened:

With construction vehicles up-ahead, traffic had slowed almost to a stop.  We were rolling along at just under 5 mph when Bryan saw a Ford Explorer barreling towards us in the rear view mirror.  He had just enough time to make a split-second pull towards the shoulder when CRASH!

Thankfully, Bryan's quick thinking angled us off the road instead of into any other cars, and, other than some neck-and-back soreness, every single person involved was COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OK.

I'm not sure I've ever been so shaken up in my life, though.  The crash happened really fast, but the actual impact lasted long enough that while I was still moving forward in my seat I was able to swing my neck to look back towards the kids and it was a horrible experience: seeing them; wondering what was happening; wondering what was going to happen next.

Thankfully all that happened next was tears.  We slammed back into our seats and Matthew wailed.  It was the loudest, healthiest, wail he's ever let out, (which is saying something for him :).  The girls started crying a moment later, more scared than anything.  And then I started crying, for completely different reasons.

The other vehicle, thankfully driven by some of the nicest people you could ever hope to be in an accident with.
It feels kind of funny to realize that the most grateful I have ever felt was while stranded on the side of the road far from home staring at our smashed-in van.  Hard to express.

Anyhow, since everyone really was in good shape, we finally made the decision to continue on towards Assateague Island, looking forward even more to a relaxing weekend with family.  Between police reports, tow trucks, arranging rentals, talking to insurance companies, and all of that, we lost over four hours.  But what's four hours, right?  We were just happy to be ok and to be on our way.

Girls on the side of the freeway being super amazing as we transfer car seats to the emergency vehicles.

The sun was setting as we put together our tent, and it was pitch black as we ate our tinfoil dinners around 10 that night, but the next day held such promise we didn't mind too much.  (Although I could have lived without having to watch out for the million-or-so fist-sized, nocturnal, bug-eyed crabs scurrying slowly across the sand between us and the pit toilets...)

We couldn't wait to get a good look at the ocean the next morning and were up enjoying the seaside right at sunrise.

Bryan, Robyn, and Amber explore the beach by morning's first light.
Pajama-clad Matthew gets his first fist-full of sand.

Our campsite was literally right over a small dune from the ocean and it was beautiful!

Speaking of beautiful...who knew a *boy* could look so pretty? :)
We'd checked the forecast ahead of time and knew that the weather for the day was expected to be a bit wet, so we decided to hit the water right after breakfast in case it was the only chance we got.  (Spoiler alert: it was. :)

The girls splashing in the surf with cousin Lylia.

The girls loved everything about the ocean.  Matthew was less impressed, however, and after the first few minutes retreated up the beach closer to Grandma and Grandpa.

Matthew playing in the sand with Grandpa Gordon.  You can see the tops of our tents in the background.

Both the drizzle and the wind were starting to pick up as the morning went on, so we finally headed back over the dune to our campsite for lunch.

Trying not to let their lunches blow away.
As the wind became stronger and stronger and showers began passing through in earnest we settled into an afternoon routine:

Play in the sand:

Kind of cool picture Katie took looking down from the dune onto our site.

Play in the tent:
Coloring while waiting for a rain shower to pass.
Play in the sand:

Apparently sand-angels are nearly as much fun as snow-angels.
Play in the tent:

Playing with UNO cards while riding out another little storm.
Play in the sand:

Skies growing ever more ominous as the breaks in the weather grew ever more rare.
Play in the tent:

Everything took it's toll on Katie, who finally fell asleep in the tent.

You get the picture.  By late afternoon the winds were a STEADY, UNRELENTING 15 mph, with higher gusts.  Bryan finally anchored our tent down to a picnic table because, even with our long meant-for-sand-camping tent stakes, it kept getting away from us.

We knew if we could just make it through the evening, though, it was supposed to be clear overnight and glorious the next day.  Our chance to be at the beach in the sunshine was getting closer by the minute.

Showing off a tower of seashells.
Trying to keep the littler kids warm by the fire as we worked on dinner.
Taking advantage of a dry moment, we managed to cook and eat dinner in peace, but had to run for cover from yet another burst of rain before even doing the evening dishes.  

Bryan chilling in the tent after dinner.  

And then, as we're lounging in the tent, positive that surely this must be the last little wave of showers to pass through before the promised night-time clearing, there's a knock at our tent.

The ranger.  

Bad storm.  Heavy flooding expected.  Advising everyone to get off the island.  Tents don't stand a chance.  Oh, and it'll be here in 20 minutes.  

What insanity!!  If you've never broken camp in fifteen minutes, in the rain, covered in sand, with a bunch of little kids, constantly being whipped around by giant gusts of wind, and sand EVERYWHERE, you haven't lived.
View of our tents as we scramble to abandon camp, with storm clouds and the ocean in the background.   
One of the craziest moments was when Bryan was working on taking down the tent.  Katie was the last thing weighing down the tent, and as he scooped her up and moved towards the door the entire tent blew over with them inside.  At least it didn't carry them away Wizard of Oz style!

Amazingly, we managed to cram all of our hastily gathered gear back into the vehicles just before the storm hit in earnest.  

We did it!
Before we even got off the island you could tell the water was rising and things were getting intense.  Glad we listened to the ranger and decided to leave!

Bridge from Assateague back to Ocean City.
Exhausted from all the exposure and excitement, the girls fell asleep in the car almost immediately.  We figured we'd be back at Grandma's by midnight and settled in to enjoy the ride.  Because a drive with sleeping children is almost as good as a date around here.

Had to lift the camera over my head to take this picture: there was so much stuff frantically shoved between us and the kids we couldn't see them at our eye-level.
And then, a couple hours into our drive, we noticed two semi-trucks speeding down the left lane.  They passed us.  Then they passed Bryan's folks.  And as they did, one of them shredded a tire.

In the pitch black, at first we weren't sure what was happening.  We just saw sparks up ahead and started getting pummeled by debris that was smacking our windshield so hard I was scared it was going to shatter.  And within moments, we were all hanging out on the side of the road.  Again.  

While our vehicle was fine, turns out some of the shredded tire had managed to punch through the grate on Bryan's folks' car.  The front of their car was hissing and leaking like crazy, and for a while we thought we were going to have to leave their car behind until the next day, although thankfully the worst damage was to the air conditioner.  

And then, as we're standing on the side of the road, sure that we have finally exhausted the amount of drama even we can cram into a weekend...

Katie starts throwing up.

Because no Fisk family adventure would be complete without a little vomit, right?????  Sigh. We couldn't even reach her past all the camping gear and had to chuck towels at her from the front and pass water to her via her big sister Robyn.  At which point my mom texted the message,

"Maybe you should stay home next time?"

Maybe we should.  Especially since I'm starting to think that around here R & R should stand for Retch & Retreat. :)


  1. And through it all Melissa was cheerful and positive. Amazing woman :)

  2. Wow girl, what a weekend! I'm glad you are all ok

  3. wow, between this and the last camping blog I read about you guys, you sure can pick 'em. I'm so glad everyone was alright through all of the accidents and storms. It's amazing to me how much went wrong in two little days. :P

  4. A true fiasco! At least you got a car date out of it. Glad it got better.

  5. oh my! You can handle so much more than I can. :)