The fun did not end on the rocks. The evening was rich with mini-adventures. Barb decided she was going to run part of the way back to the campsite so we let her out on the side of the road. As the remainder of the group was driving back a bunch of inner tubes flew off the back of a truck in front of us. It was like flying donuts.
We were all pretty smelly upon arrival at the campsite and I was eager for a shower. I got all the necessary provisions my car, and have even started to strip down a bit (Nothing scandalicious. My shirt was rank so I just took it off but I had towel wrapped around me plus sports bra). I had clean clothes in hand and was ready to head to the shower.
Now I just needed to lock up the car (recall the car contained 2 computers, my bike, 2 purses, etc). But, hmmm, where are my keys? And come to think of it - where is Barb? First things first. My keys. I started to rummage through my bags. Nothing. Of course, as soon as I decided to take things out of the car to look for the keys it started to rain. Hard. And at that point Barb was still at large, and it had been long enough where her whereabouts were more of a concern than my keys.
Liz went out on the hunt for Barb. Who she quickly found happily running towards the campsite. Who didn't want a ride because at this point she was already drenched so why not just finish it out?
Back to my keys. At this point, I told the group they had gone missing. We started to systematically search and remove the contents of the car. My hope was they were staring me right in the face and all I needed were fresh eyes to spot them. My fear was I had left them on the ground and they had been washed away by the rain.
Because it was still raining, mind you. Hard. And we had another problem. The sandbox that held our tents (see below)
Our guide made the call that we would break camp and sleep at the outfitters. This only made the issue of not having my keys worse because there was no way I was going to leave my unlocked car at a campsite. I considered the possibility of sleeping in the car. Spooning with my bike and breathing in the aroma of my soggy clothes and smelly unshowered self. The more likely possibility was to transfer the contents of my car to a car with keys that could go somewhere.
That might have solved the problem for the night but there was still the concern that the only set of spare keys were in my desk at McKinney in Durham. And the car wasn't going anywhere without those keys. The fine folks at Swedish Imports warned me that one of the biggest expenses associated with owning this older car was losing the keys. Replacing them takes much time and much money.
I had flashbacks to a night in CT home from college with my stepmother's borrowed car being somewhere I wasn't supposed to be and realizing I couldn't find the keys. I returned home at 4am, $500 poorer sans FOB with only a replacement key to show for, no words to explain my absence and a pretty evil glare from car owner. At least it wasn't raining that night.
I was about 5 minutes short of a breakdown when Lindsay, ever our guide, discovered the keys here.
And with that, we drove to the Outfitters. I considered stopping by the Hampton Inn, booking the penthouse, or honeymoon suite or whatever the nicest thing the Hampton Inn has to offer and ordering lots of room service and having the group stay there. But didn't. That might have taken the REI and adventure out of "REI Adventure."
The outfitter location is part retail store, with big windows in and that's the part we slept in. Maybe someone would window shop and decide to purchase our weary, smelly, drenched group.
Take a look at what happens when you reunite campers with outlets and service. This is bonding.
I did take this opportunity to grab memory cards, compile pics and run a slide show to the tune of James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind."
The team gathered round my computer and I inadvertently launched the web-cam and snapped a shot. So, here's the candid.
And eventually we slept. I handed out Ambien like candy to the group to assist. Who needs a comfy dry bed at the Hampton? Live a little, right?
(had we stayed at the campsite, the above might have been any of us, drowned in the tent)