This is the 2nd post in a new reflective “Sharing a Story” series, where I tell the stories we never told about our year on the road tied to a picture.
Jay and I both got our start camping through backpacking. We learned to pack light and be self sufficient. Forgot your fork on a trip? Just whittle a new one from a nearby stick. Hail or high winds? Huddle in the tent and play cards until it passes or until your tent is carried away.
Before our year on the road I had not done a lot of car camping (where you drive to a campsite and put up your tent near the car). It took a period of adjustment for it to feel ok and not shameful to retreat to the car to get ready in the morning or read a book in safety and silence. The first time that we really took advantage of the car was at this campsite pictured above.
It was actually our second time staying in the primitive campground at Leasburg Dam State Park in New Mexico. Our experience was so positive on the first try that we were relieved to be passing through the same area and able to camp in the same spot. We set up our tent on a nice sandy flat spot and then went about setting up the kitchen and preparing for dinner. Just as Jay was putting the fajitas on the cast iron, the sun was starting to set and our peaceful new home was invaded.
Out of these tall bushes swarmed millions of little flying bugs. They didn’t bite, but they were so thick that you couldn’t see through the middle of the swarm and if they flew past you, you would get a mouthful of bugs. I was grossed out and we were shouting over the swarm, trying to decide what to do. Dinner was almost done but it was getting dark and Jay needed to use a headlamp, which meant that the bugs were swarming under his headlamp and getting into our food. Jay covered the cast iron with foil to let it finish cooking bug free and I gathered up some plates and forks and retreated to the car. I turned off the interior lights so that when he opened the door the bugs wouldn’t follow him into our car. There were already several lost bugs that had rode in on me and were now wandering the cab as I tried to swat them.
That’s when Jay got a genius idea. He took our Goby Flashlight with magnetic feet (pictured below) and attached it to the rear of the car pointed away from the kitchen area. A diversion! The swarm fell for it and hovered around the light, giving him just enough time to pull the cast iron and jump into the front seat of the car to safety. Even still, a few bugs got in, but we were able to swat them pretty quickly.
Once we were in the safety and comfort of the front seat, Jay served our dinner (with the cast iron resting on a hot mitt on the dashboard). We ate in silence, trying not to notice the extra bits of protein in our fajitas. To us it felt like a small victory – we escaped the swarm – but only by retreating to the car. Which meant the next battle lie right outside, between us and a nice night’s sleep.