You’ve been planning it for weeks and the date of your camping trip finally arrives and the forecast calls for rain. Now what?! I had this very scenario play out a couple of weeks ago for my camping trip to St. Andrews State Park. It had been several years since I’d camped there and I’d been looking forward to a return trip. Now, not only was rain in the forecast, but it called for heavy thunderstorms with the potential for dangerous lightning and damaging winds for the entire weekend. Decisions, decisions.
I could have postponed and rebooked it, but I really needed some back-to-nature therapy. Since I now have a micro-camper instead of a tent I decided to go ahead as planned, but I altered my plans a bit. Since I knew the weather was going to be a literal wash-out, I decided to leave the kayak at home and pack the bicycle instead. A bike would allow me to cover more ground quickly during breaks in the rain bands. I also decided to bring the regular and waterproof cameras, laptop computer, DVDs and movie snacks.
I timed my arrival between two large rain bands which allowed me to set up comfortably. I decided against putting up the easy-up tent due to high winds in the forecast, so the tent and lawn chairs stayed in the back of the truck. With the scaled down set-up quickly completed, I grabbed my primary camera and headed toward Gator Lake on my bike. I’d only gone a ¼ of the way and I came across my first photo op, a fawn crossing the road.
After snapping a few photos of the fawn, I continued on to my destination. As luck would have it, the rain had really brought out the alligators and I got a lot of great photos. I checked the radar on my phone and wisely decided I’d better not check out the fishing pier today, and instead I headed back to the camper to tuck into an easy no-cook dinner and watch a mini-marathon of Middleman, Season 1.
Saturday dawned to a frequent and light misting rain. I changed out cameras to my waterproof one and went for a stroll on foot. I encountered the deer again on my way down to the beachfront and jetties. At the beach I was able to get a few shots of a surfer taking advantage of the wave action and then I wandered onward to the lagoon area where the pelicans and herons were enjoying the morning. I contemplated tackling the trail past the Turpentine Still, but decided against it due to the previous night’s rain making things a bit too soggy.
I finally headed back to the camper for a late breakfast. On the way through the campground I heard a woman exclaim from inside her tent, “Oh no!! All the clothes I had in this bag are soaked with water!” I’ll admit that I laughed out loud and I apologize now. I once camped in tents and later hammock tents before graduating to an air-conditioned camper to combat Florida’s heat & humidity. I do not miss rain soaked tents.
I checked the weather forecast again. A new band of thunderstorms was approaching with a few hours break afterward followed by major thunderstorms, high winds and tornado watches for the rest of the night well into the next day. Based on this update I decided to take a nap after brunch and then watch a couple more episodes of Middleman. Once the first thunderstorm band passed I was back out exploring the trails near Gator Lake.
Finally, with about 2 hours left before the big storm landed I secured my gear and headed back home. I hated to leave early, but it was the right call. There were several tornado warnings issued that night and there were scattered reports of damage caused by high winds. I still got to explore a good bit of the park and enjoyed relaxing in the camper with the rain pattering on the roof. It’s all about perspective, seizing windows of opportunity and making the best of a situation.