The "plan" was to go camping. It wasn't a terrible plan. In fact, it was a pretty good idea. We would camp at Ft. DeSoto State Park, Jeremy would ride his bike from the campsite to the duathlon starting line, and the boys & I would meet him at the finish line after breakfast. Not a bad deal...grill out, sit around the campfire talking, let the kids play...basically, have some "quality time."
The "plan" was to plan everything effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, proactively. We made lists, shopped early, organized our schedules, packed in waterproof Rubbermaid bins, and even planned no-fuss menus. The "plan" was to get to the campground and be set up before nightfall. We started our packing and prepping on Wednesday afternoon with the requisite trip to Walmart for supplies. By Thursday evening, Jeremy had the Jeep packed, and we had the coolers and other bins ready for loading into my SUV. Jeremy was to get off work early, head to St. Pete, and get the campsite set up before the boys & I arrived. I would, then, pick up the coolers and the boys and head over after school. According to our "plan," Jeremy would get to the campsite one to two hours before us, and as of Friday afternoon at 5pm, EVERYTHING was running according to "plan."
As "planned," Jeremy had everything set up by the time we got to Ft. DeSoto. I made beds, sent the boys to the playground, and began organizing my picnic table-kitchen. Since we're in Central Florida, the possibility of afternoon rain is simply a part of life. Yes, we watch the weather every morning, and we have rain/radar apps on our phones. We check the weather frequently, but we don't really worry about it. Simply put, we know it's going to rain, and we're fine with it.
By the time dinner was cooked, the wind had picked up (nothing terrible) and it was drizzling on and off, but still, nothing to worry about. We even told the kids to eat quickly because we would probably be chilling out in the tent in a little while, but still, nothing to worry about.
As is often the case in Florida, the weather can change in an instant..for good or bad. We're used to it. However, when you're in a tent, on the ocean, and under a flash flood warning with little to no cell service, you get a little worried. By the time the boys finished dinner, the drizzle was a steady rain. We hurried into the tent and closed all of the windows, door, and rain flap. We chilled out...nothing major. However, after about 30 minutes and the rain hadn't let up, we heard Eli slapping the floor of the tent. As I stood up to see what he was doing, I felt the water puddling under the tent. In a matter of minutes, the puddling under the tent turned to a stream flowing through the tent, and we had a decision to make. Luckily, Jeremy & I are pretty good at making serious, life-affecting decisions. Deciding where to eat dinner can cause a major hiccup, but emergency situations are a snap.
Within 5 minutes of discovering our in-tent stream, we had the food bin, clothing bin, andtwo kids loaded into the car, and we were on our way off the island. We weren't sure where we were going, but we knew we needed to find other arrangements for the night. As we drove, Jeremy called a local La Quinta we'd stayed in before, and luckily, they had a room for the night. By the time we got to the hotel, we had cell service and were able to pull up the radar for Pinellas County. The storm cell stalled over southern Pinellas/Fort DeSoto and was dumping 2 inches of rain on the area. There was no way we would have stayed dry in the tent...and not floated away.
The moral to this story is plan what you, have a back up plan, and always listen to your instincts. Will we camp again? Absolutely. In fact, we're going to look at a CAMPER Wednesday night :)