After Max and I had fun playing western dress up at Wall Drug, we were back on the road heading East. One of my favorite campsites was a little far away so I looked at a map and found a site off of a lake that seemed right off of the freeway.
We drove, and drove, and drove. I then realized that we had to drive around the entire lake to get to the campsite shown on on the map. Sixty miles later, I saw a sign that read "North lake entrance 4 miles." I was waiting for the West entrance, but at this point, I didn't care. I just wanted to get to a campsite site and relax. It's been a long driving day. After driving 4 miles on the unpaved and unmaintained road, we arrived to the end of the line.
We drove up and noticed a couple camping. A woman came up to me to ask if I had matches to light their fire. We chatted for a while and I told her that I was relieved to have another camper at the site with me. Truth was, I had no idea where I was...but I wasn't going to let on.
Apparently, this is a local spot. There were no facilities, just a turn around at the end of the road, which was the lake. Max and I loved it there. We had a ton of space, neighbors nearby, and best of all...it was FREE!
After taking a few photographs and setting up camp, we decided to relax and look out to the lake. It was a beautiful day, but we were exhausted from the drive.
I heard noises in the distance. Sounded like a thunderstorm over the mountains. No biggie, we went through this in Wyoming and it passed in the distance. It will be the same this time.
I waived to my neighbor camper as they went off on a hike.
The wind picked up. The rumbling got louder. I'm safe. I'm with locals. They know the area, we will be fine, I thought.
I watched them come back, except this time, they were running back.
The day turned dark...fast. It started raining. I threw everything in the tent and sat in it thinking I would wait it out. The lightning was more frequent and bright. I got out of the tent to watch for a while. I know it's going to pass. We will be fine.
All of a sudden, I see their truck pull up next to me standing in the darkness and I hear the woman's voice call out to me. "Are you going to be ok?" she asked. I said, "yes, it's just going to pass over, right?" She said, "NO, it's coming right towards us! We live close by so we're just going to go home." Suddenly, the fear set in. I said, "ok, we'll be fine."
I watched them leave until I could no longer see their brake lights in the distance. The rain went from drops to what seemed like rain "patties." The lightning hit. This time, I saw it. Not just the brightness of the light, but the actual bolt. And another.
"We need to get outta here, Max!" I grabbed him, threw him in the kennel and threw that in the car, picked up everything in the tent in one swoop and shoved it in the back window of the car. I tried to do a speed "pull and fold" with the tent stakes and threw them in the back. At the same time, I didn't have a flashlight since I could see everything as light as day each time it hit. Visions of horror movies popped in my head where someone would appear right in front of you when lightning hit. Adrenaline was rushing...
As soon as everything was shoved in the car, we were on our way. The first mile of the unpaved, unmaintained road was uphill and full of mud. My car started sliding sideways in the mud as I tried to escape. I slowed down, put in low gear and hoped for the best.
I made it to a paved road and went the opposite way I came. The rain was hitting me from the side and it looked as if rain was coming up from the ground. We drove through the storm listening to thunder cracks and squinting each time a lightning bolt hit. Fifty miles later we found a town and a motel.
Of course the morning greeted us with a beautiful day. We were thankful to be safe and off to the next campsite.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture this night in pictures.
Beware: Lakes on a map might not always be as close as they appear to be.