It was starting out to be a great weekend of camping. We were traveling with a group of great friends. Let me tell you, everyone needs to have a few friends like these. They are the kind who you go months without talking to and pick right up as if you had seen each other yesterday.
To add to the delight, we had a brand new camping toy. Your mind might wander to a Coleman stove or some other accoutrement to making roughing it a little easier, but we had packed a giant white bed sheet and a projector. Combining the two we created an awesome giant screen theatre that attracted both children and June bugs with its glowing greatness.
After a late night showing of Megamind and a healthy helping of Smores, we shuffled our sleepy, sticky kids off to bed. The next day followed and was filled with lazy, aimless camping fun. Around dinnertime, we began to notice an ominous dark gathering in the distant skies. We are more out of the frying pan and into the spilled milk kind of campers, so we were fumbling with the radar on our phone trying to garner information. Luckily, one of our better prepared friends was traveling with a weather radio, so we tuned in to hear the reports.
|Playing cards and waiting for weather reports while wearing their tornado safety gear|
With the first weather reports of severe thunderstorms, we began to make tentative preparations to batten down the hatches. Soon, we began to hear the murmurings of tornadoes in the area. At the suggestion of Reed Timmer of Stormchasers fame, we gathered up the bicycle helmets to use in case of tornado. After a quick scan of the property, we determined that the safest locations would be the ply-board bathroom or the lowest point in the campsite, which happened to be next to the lake. Eschewing either option as particularly safe, we clicked our ruby hiking boots three times and said 'There's no place like Wal-Mart."
I'm sure there are those that find Wal-Mart to be a shopping Mecca. Where else can you buy ammunition, underwear, and toilet paper all while having your oil changed? It is without a doubt a modern marvel, but I tend to try to avoid a visit for all but the most utilitarian of tasks. It's not generally a place where you expect to have fun.
Coming in from the storm with nine kids, I couldn't help but wonder how we would pass the time. It turns out, we couldn't have asked for a more entertaining bad weather bunker.
(Please excuse the quality of the photos, as I only had a camera phone for our adventure through Wal-mart. Bad, bad blogger.)
There was fun to be had as we explored the toy aisles
And checked out some safety gear.
Then, we passed a few glassy eyed moments ogling the video game aisle.
Several back to back minutes of quiet were bought with the purchase of a new dice game.
As we moved into the second hour we began buying candy and passing it out enthusiastically. Spurred on by sugar and boredom, the kids took up a raucous game of catch.
When the noise got to be too much, we settled the kids down to play a word game and made another trip through the store to buy more candy. Does anyone else appreciate the irony of the two opposing forces at work here?
As the third hour rolled around, we were running out of candy and patience, so we were relieved to hear that the tornado warning had been lifted. We trudged back to our cars and campsites, passing the night quietly and with some chagrin, as it seemed the weather was quite tame. Our rush to Wal-mart seemed little more than a futile tornado drill until the light of day revealed tree branches on top of campers and destruction at the entrance to the campsite. Indeed, there is no place like Wal-mart.