This post marks the beginning of a series of entries regarding our road trip across the country. During the trip, I wrote an entry in my travel journal, as I wanted to remove myself from social media for a while (which worked until Seattle).
We got off to a rough start. Spencer and I procrastinated on our packing, and we had quite a bit to pack into our tiny Mazda. Our original plan was to leave our house by 7:45am and drop the kitties off in Pensacola by 8:30. However, it soon became apparent that the car would not be packed in time and that we would not have enough room for the cats, the dog, and all of our stuff. We made a separate trip for the cats, and returned home to pack after dropping them off at the kennel. After cramming the last knick-knack into the car, we left at 10:45 – a whole three hours later than planned! As a person who obsesses over list-making and itinerary-planning, I was very upset.
Now, when I had reserved the campsite I thought that the lack of campsite pictures was strange. I looked at the campsite from Google Maps and just thought that our site would abut a lovely green grassy area. Unfortunately, that green grassy area turned out to be swamp scum that was in bloom during a warm spring.
However, we arrived around 7:30pm at the park to see that our reserved camping spot was no more than 20 feet from a legitimate swamp complete with “Watch for Alligator” signs. That’s right, a good ole Louisiana bayou filled to the brim with gators and other loud wildlife. Mosquitos were plentiful, and we sprayed on this wonderful 95% DEET spray we found at a sporting goods store which seemed to be made for this exact scenario.
I worked on setting up the tent while Spencer started the fire for dinner. At this point, we found out that the trees above us were completely filled with small, fuzzy caterpillars that loved jumping out of the trees and onto the back of our necks as we bent over to complete our designated tasks. By the time the tent was set up and the fire was going, my skin interpreted every small breeze as a caterpillar attack. My nerves were a bit frayed. Darkness settled as we grilled our sausages over the fire. Even though it was only 9:30, we decided to turn in for the night. At least the tent would provide respite from the mosquitos and caterpillars.
However, our dog Ellie had other plans. She was obviously overwhelmed with her first long car ride and camping trip. She would, as Spencer put it, freak out at a mouse fart. Any small noise (rustling of the leaves, breeze hitting the tent, laughter from a distant campsite) would send her off into a fit of hysterical barking. Pair that with the sounds of our very drunk Cajun neighbors and the sounds of a swamp in the nighttime (think a billion-frog choir), and you had a recipe for zombie puppy-parents. At one point, around 3:30 in the morning, I remember crying as Ellie barked and stepped on me in order to get to some leaf that had attacked my side of the tent. It was not a pretty night. On top of all of that, the weather was close to 85 with 80% humidity even at night. It was too hot for sleeping bags, and way too hot to sleep comfortably.
The next morning, after maybe three hours of sleep between us, we stumbled out of the tent to let Ellie do her business. We were in no mood to attempt to cook, and we had used all of our wood anyways. We decided to take a quick shower (which was both warm and free!) and then we quickly packed up and (though we’re ashamed to admit it) went to the closest McDonalds on our way out to Texas. This admittedly started a small addiction to their mango-pineapple smoothies, which we used to reward ourselves during long stretches of driving through various deserts. All-in-all, it was a rough start to our 20 day journey. The showers were the only thing that made either of us feel remotely human.
[Next Adventure? San Angelo State Park, TX!]