Sidetracked



Travel Story

The four of us piled out of Lauren's SUV, our legs stiff from the five-hour trip. Sitting in Austin's rush-hour traffic had added an hour to our anticipated arrival time. I spotted my sister, her fianc�, and my best friend and her fianc� sitting around a picnic table at our Lazy L&L campsite.
Sara rushed over with a huge grin. Her lip-gloss smeared lips decorated toothpaste ad teeth. �Bekah!� She exclaimed as she threw her arms around me.

"You look skinny!" For the eight years I've known her, this is always how she greets me.

The guys, Dave, Mike and the Johns began assembling tents. Never to be pushed aside because of my gender, I jumped in to help. I search the ground for rocks, sticks and tree roots to make sure I wouldn't wake up with a knot in my back due to sleeping on protruding objects. Our campsite wasn't very spacious, overburdened by a tree, power lines and a cement picnic table, so it was a little difficult trying to figure out where to put three tents. But after an hour of clearing spaces and anchoring flaps, we sat in our lawn chairs and admired our work.
The Guadalupe River flowed across the road from our site, and the sounds of whooping and splashing floated above the trees, calling to us for attention. I was overjoyed with the thought of floating down that river the next day.

We decided to spend the rest of the evening around the campfire catching up with each other over beers and cigarettes. As the night dwindled on, Mike and Lauren, Sara and John, and Jenna retired to their tents, leaving Dave, John and myself to watch the fire burn out. In the distance, thunder growled and fingers of lightening darted across the sky. There was a storm on its way. John theorized that it was too far away to affect us; that it would probably go around us. We wishfully agreed with him. But an hour later it was bearing down on us, threatening our weekend vacation. Fat drops of water fell into the fire pit, sending embers sizzling, swirling in the darkness.
We decided to get into our tents and sleep off the storm.
As we climbed into our sleeping bags, the sounds of Mike and Lauren's snores competed with the thunder above us. Dave and I drifted in and out of sleep, but I eventually woke to cold water splashing on my forehead. I reached above my head and felt the ceiling of our tent soaked with water. I nudged Dave awake and called out to Mike and Lauren.
"Did we remember to put the rain fly on?" I asked, annoyed.

"Yeah. I think so," answered Mike, uneasily.

Meanwhile the thunder was growing louder and lightning illuminated our tent, our faces forming worried glances at each other. Mike voiced his concern that our tent was placed directly under a transformer and power lines. Exhaustion and anxiety took over, and fearing our safety, we threw on shoes, grabbed our pillows and darted for the SUV, what was to be our bed for the remainder of the night. From the car, we saw Sara and John had done the same.

Hours passed and the storm followed. Lauren ventured out to use the bathroom, and the rest of us got out to stretch our legs. The campground was buzzing with activity. Parents were relieved that the storm had passed, kids too excited to sleep. Lauren wandered back with a Jell-O shot in her hand. She laughed as she described the party going on in the bathroom, where a group of teenaged girls were offering shots to whoever needed a bathroom break. We discussed our tubing trip that was to happen in a few hours and decided to try to get some sleep. We woke the next morning to sunlight beating down on us, our heads pressed against the windows…

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