16 September 2009

Headed for the hills -- part IV

It wasn't long until the kabobs were grilled to perfection, with the tilapia flaking off in steaming hunks. The grilled onions, green peppers and squash provided a crunchy accompaniment, and sweet potatoes (cooked scout style, wrapped in foil and shoved deep into the coals to bake) rounded out the meal.

Maybe it was because we were ravenous following the day's drive and the work we did to set up camp, or maybe it was because of the pastoral setting with the river gurgling behind us and the clouds parting to show more stars than I've seen in years, but for whatever the reason, dinner was indescribably delicious.

I leaned back in my chair, took a long pull off my beer, and smiled at Jean. "It really doesn't get better than this, does it?"

It was a shame that it didn't last.

The first hint that the situation was going awry came when we went to make our bed in the tent. We were putting sheets on the air mattress when looked at me with a touch of concern.

"Can you hear that?" she asked, her ear pressed to vinyl near the foot of the mattress.
I moved to where she sat and placed my ear where hers had most recently been. There was no doubt about it -- the hiss that reached my ears could mean nothing else but a leak.

We searched and searched, but could never find the source of the hissing, and despite unplugging and re-plugging the valve for the mattress, as well as using the automatic pump to put some more air into it, the leak remained.

Fortunately, it seemed that the leak was minor. Even after fifteen minutes of futile detective work on our part, it seemed that the leak wasn't so bad that we couldn't sleep on the mattress. We shrugged at each other and continued making the bed, then got in for a good night's sleep.
It turned out to be no such thing.

Sometime in the night, I awoke to find Jean leaning over me, shoving wadded clothing into small piles alongside the outer edge of the tent. I was damp, my back hurt, and it didn't take long for me to figure out what had happened. The rains, which had gratefully stopped while we set up camp and ate dinner, returned after we fell asleep. Unfortunately, the ground cover I put beneath the tent was too small to encompass the entire footprint of our shelter -- and as such, could not keep water from seeping into the tent around the edges.

Jean woke after she put her hand in a large puddle during the night. In an attempt to keep the center of the tent -- and out now-completely-deflated air mattress -- dry, she used our clothes and whatever else was in the tent to create as a makeshift dam. I gave her a hand, and once we were satisfied that we wouldn't be washed into the river as we slept, we snuggled back down and went back to a fitful, restless and uncomfortable sleep.

To be continued...

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