Everything that Went Wrong on Our First Camping Trip

vintage camper

Timehop recently served up a memory of our first camping in Cecilia.  I think the 3 question marks sum up the excitement I felt as I waited for the clock to hit 5 pm.  I had a good laugh when I saw this reminder of my excitement, because six years ago I had no idea that we were in for more bad than good on that trip.  Camping wasn’t new to us.  We were longtime tent campers excited to leave air mattresses and rain soaked tents behind us.  We thought this camping trip was going to be a cake walk compared to all of that.  Ha!

Since it was the 4th of July weekend, most of the campgrounds we were familiar with were filled up.  We blindly selected a new campground.  There was no way to know that our campsite was at the end of a one way road and would require us to back the camper down the road to our site;  75 yards or so away.

At this point, the farthest we had pulled the camper (and by we I mean Chris) was to and from the storage facility.  3 miles round trip.  During this 3 miles, the only backing up required was once we got to the storage facility.  They have us a spot with a wide open lot and no campers on either side of Cecilia.  Maybe they looked at us and realized we were new to the struggles of backing up short trailers.  Maybe fate was smiling down on us the day we rented our spot.

Have I mentioned the road wasn’t straight?  Have I mentioned I am useless as a spotter?  Chris put it in reverse and attempted to back down the road.  Cecilia veered left.  Cecilia veered right.  Cecilia wanted to go every direction except the direction he wanted her to go.

It took 30 minutes before he was able to back the camper into our spot.  The entire time, we had an audience.  Men from various camp sites stood next to their giant motor homes, beer in hand, and laughed.  Yes, they laughed instead of offering help.   63 shasta compact

He finally made it into our site.  Our pride was a little bruised, but we were thrilled to be where we were.  Our half finished camper was parked beside the lake.

It was probably around 11 when we were ready to call it a night.  We didn’t notice anything strange at first.  Honestly, we both had a couple of drinks in attempt to recovered from the stress of backing up the camper for the first time with an unhelpful audience.

We went into the camper and turned on the light.  We noticed a swarm of gnats outside, so we quickly shut the door behind us.  I’m not sure who noticed it first, but one of us pointed out a gnat that made it in the camper.  Chris squashed it.  No big deal.

Except, it was a big deal.  It wasn’t just one gnat in the camper.  Before I could even change into pajamas, there were 5 gnats.  We each tore a paper towel off a roll and used it to squash them.  There were now 6 black streaks, entrails of tiny gnats, left on my beautiful white camper walls.  We would just have to shut the door quicker next time.  We turned off the lights and went to bed.

Except, we didn’t go to sleep.  I think I felt it first.  Something landed on my face.  Then, something else landed on my face.  I sleep on the side of the bed closest to the back wall of the camper so I was trapped and had no way to turn on the lights.  I shook Chris.  He turned on the lights and this is when we saw it.

Hundreds of tiny gnats fluttered around our camper.  They were on the walls, on the bedding, and on us.  They swarmed around the camper and now the light was drawing them toward the kitchenette area.  They landed on everything we had left on the front counter for the evening and I started picking them from my hair.

Fight or flight kicked in.  We really only had two options; defend our property or hop in the truck, leave Cecilia there, and never look back.  We chose to fight. Chris used his hand to smash as many as he could. I chose to use a paper towel as a protective barrier between my skin and their innards. I won’t try to guess how long this went on or how many gnats we killed. I only know that to this day, there are still black streaks on Cecilia’s walls. Battle scars from our first night.

We killed most of them and no more came. Maybe they smelled the blood of their family coming through whatever hole they entered in the first place. The next night, we refused to turn on any lights in the camper, hoping not to attract them. It worked. It wasn’t a long term solution though.

We were never able to figure out where they came from. We thought every hole in the camper had been plugged in one way or another. Then, last week we were working on the camper when I stopped at one of the side jalousie windows. There is a seal that runs along the bottom of the window and seals it. Except, an inch or so of our seal is missing. I don’t question whether or not this is how the gnats made their way into the camper that night. On other camping trips, I’ve noticed insects seem to gravitate toward that window. I can’t even be mad about it. I’m impressed they were able to find their way in using such a tiny hole.

We now have another project on our list.