Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monsoonami OR Mon-tsunami, I Can't Decide
We loved the KOA at Carlsbad! The staff was super friendly and helpful and the grounds and buildings were some of the cleanest and best organized that I've ever seen. Still, there were some definite downsides to staying there, at least in July. For one thing, it was approximately 900 degrees outside and we were sleeping in a tent. We aren't stupid, we knew July in the flatlands of New Mexico was going to be hot, but we wanted to stay within a short distance of the caverns, so we were willing to put up with it for two nights. However, neither one of us was prepared for the FLIES! I have never, in my life, seen so many flies. It was like a biblical plague. Jason asked one of the KOA employees if there were always so many flies and she commented that it was the season for them and that if we'd come earlier in the summer we'd have seen tarantulas everywhere. I wonder why they don't advertise these things on their website? We also discovered after our first night's stay that July and August are "monsoon" season.
It might surprise you that the arid climate of New Mexico has a monsoon season...I know it surprised me! Monday night as the kids were swimming I kept a watchful eye on the huge banks of clouds that seemed to be approaching on all sides. We'd only been at the pool a short time when lightening chased us back to dry land. The weather held until we went to bed, then we got a good downpour. Our new tent kept us dry, though, and by five a.m. the temperature dropped into the seventies. We spent the entire day Tuesday at the caverns where the temperature hold steady at 56 degrees, but returned to the KOA that evening to scortching heat and the horde of flies.
Once again, Tuesday evening, threatening storm clouds surrounded us. The heat in the tent was oppressive. Haddon thrashed around wildly and we finally dragged his bag outside and let him sleep out there for a while until Jason spotted lightening, then we brought him back in. Not long after getting him settled on his air mattress again, the wind began to pick up. Then it began to lightening, thunder, and rain in earnest. Jason and I got up and battened down the hatches, so to speak, zipping up all of the windows that the wind was now blowing rain through. The storm didn't let up, though, battering the tent for over an hour before decided that something was going to give and we didn't want to be outside when it did. So, we moved all of the the three youngest kids into the van where the big girls were already sleeping. It wasn't until I was carrying Haven (all snuggled up in a blanket to keep her dry)the 20 feet or so to the safety of the van, that I realized just how bad the storm was. The wind was just vicious, blowing the rain into pellets that seemed to be flying every direction at once. I ended up having to hold on to Avery, as well, because she couldn't see with the wind and the rain. It was so windy that I had a hard time getting the van door open, but once I pushed the kids inside, I ran back to the tent to help J. After a few moments of deliberation, we decided that we'd better get as much as we could in the van because if the rain fly came loose as it was threatening to do, all of our clothing, bags, etc. would be soaking wet. I took two trips from the tent to the van hauling various bags, then Avery started crying because she was scared, so I stayed in with the kids while Jason single-handedly emptied the tent. He stayed with it for a while, standing inside and holding on to the top to try to keep it from blowing away.
From the van, the tent looked like a living thing as it bucked and pitched, tipping this way and that before righting itself again. Then the rain fly pitched violently and pulled the stakes from the soggy ground. With no protection from the wind and rain, Jason gave up his efforts and ran for the van. No sooner had he shut the door then the tent caved in. We spent a cozy night in the van, crammed in like sardines, but dry and safe and thankful that we had a van to get into.
The next morning we did a damage assessment and were pleased to find that, although it was filled with water and looked like a tidal wave had hit it, the tent was actually not damaged in any way. It took a little longer to pack up than usual since we had to dry everything, but we were loaded up by noon and heading to the next destination on our trip.