All men are fools, and I their chief. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. It was a lovely late June evening at Sebago Lake state Park in Maine. The three-hour drive to the camping area put us there about seven thirty. The air was filled with the pungent smell of wood smoke and the tent went up quickly with no hassle. I had reserved the coveted site 116T, which sits at the edge of a bluff overlooking the lake. Positioning the tent so there was some open sky above it, I decided to leave the rain fly off so we could look at the sky as we fell asleep. Janice looked at the open netting without it’s normal rain tarp with some skepticism.
“Isn’t it supposed to rain,” she asked?
That is when I made the biggest mistake of my life. I whipped out my cell phone and clicked the weather app. Thirty-seven percent chance of precipitation. That seemed way less than fifty percent. Should be no problem, right?
“Nah,” I told her, “we’re good”
Hot dogs and beans over the campfire, the red glow of the sun setting into the clouds over the lake, the plaintive sound of loons settling their young in the distance. It was the perfect camping experience. Tired from work and the long drive to the campground, we turned in early and quickly fell into a dead sleep. About two in the morning I was woken suddenly by a sudden drop of water splashing in my face. By the time I woke up enough to figure out what was going on there were several more. Grabbing the rain fly I headed out to cover us up, but before I even got the tent unzipped the sky opened up and we were in the middle of a downpour.
In our yard at home during daylight that last step of pulling the tarp up over the tent and securing it had taken less than a minute. Now, in the dark, with the rain pouring down and the wind blowing, it turned into an impossibility. Nothing seemed to connect right. No matter how I tried to get the tarp up over the peak the wind kept blowing it back in my face. Between the darkness rain flooding into my eyes I couldn’t see a thing and I kept tripping over things as I tried to all the harder to stop the flood of water into our not so dry and cozy tent.
By now my wife, who is normally difficult to wake, was fully awake and yelling at me to for Gods sake get the tarp up. I give her credit, when she saw I wasn’t figuring it out on my own she came out to help, but it was no use. Between the two of us we managed to get it halfway over the tent, but she tripped over a tree root and fell into the tent, tearing a large hole in the side. Finally, we gave up.
There we were, stark naked in the moonlight, watching the freezing cold rain fill our tent and soak our sleeping bag. Sleeping here was no longer an option. We slid into our rain-drenched clothes and squelched in sopping wet sneakers down the hill to our car. Try finding a place to rent at three in the morning in Sebago Maine. It ain’t happening. We ended up driving an hour and renting a hotel room for the night in Portland. The next day we spent wringing out our stuff and drying the sleeping bag out at the local laundromat (who was wonderful in helping us deal with the soggy mess it had become). The fun, however, was over. We packed up the camping gear and stayed in hotels for the rest of the trip, and I, have yet to live down the idea that thirty-seven percent chance was a good reason to leave us unprotected from the elements. All men, as my wife will only too gladly tell you, lack common sense.