Camping Trip Turns Stormy in Great Basin National Park

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Photo By Fotolia/hansenn
A picnic table didn’t serve well as a bed on a man's camping trip when a storm blew in at Great Basin National Park.

For a man, turning 50 is a wake-up call.

It’s the one birthday where he finally realizes that maybe — just maybe — he isn’t going to accomplish all of the things in life that he had hoped. Personally, I’m still holding out for that NFL draft pick.

So there I was, with August 8, 2009, staring me right in the face — my 50th birthday. I asked myself, “What can I possibly do to celebrate the big 5-0?” Then, bam! It dawned on me. How cool — and appropriate — would it be to drive across country on U.S. Route 50? It just made sense! That settled it — I was going on a road trip.

On Monday, June 8, I pedaled my bicycle to the Hilton Head airport, where I rented a Dodge Caliber. The next day, I began my adventure.

Camping Trip in Great Basin National Park

Intending to camp for the most part, there was one minor kink in my plan: I don’t own a camping tent. But amazingly, my exposed camping worked just fine for almost 30 days, until that fateful night in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park.

As darkness settled upon Great Basin on the evening of Friday, July 3, I laid atop the picnic table at my campsite in eager anticipation. My pre-trip homework had told me how beautiful the night skies were at Great Basin, due to the lack of human-produced, ambient light. So I interlaced my hands behind my head, looked up to the heavens and said, “OK Great Basin, show me your best.”

Just then, a thunder clap sounded. I shook my head and muttered to myself, “No way. This can’t be the one night of the year when Great Basin National Park has cloud cover.” Thunder sounded again, and then a single rain drop pelted me in the forehead. Minutes later, I was forced to grab my belongings and scramble back into the Caliber as a thunderstorm raged through the park. In the process, I accidentally hit the panic button on my car keys, causing the emergency lights to flash and the horn to sound. I’ll bet the other campers just loved me!

Later, curled up on the reclined driver’s seat as rain pounded the Caliber, I mumbled, “I guess it can be the one night of the year when Great Basin National Park has cloud cover.”

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Read more stories about summer activities in Stories of Camping Adventures.