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Monday, 14 April 2008

In The Still of the Night

By Edna Henkee of Grandma Henke

Zion’s National Park is practically a hop, skip, and a jump from where we live in Ivins, Utah, and last week we decided to take our new small camping trailer there for its maiden voyage of the year. Last year we used it one time and our son was there to help us get it parked and set up. This was our first solo trip and we found we have a lot to learn about camping trailers.

Of course, in grand Henke style, we pulled into the camp ground well after dark. With the majestic red and white canyon cliffs that surround the park, the darkness there is blacker than the darkness of home which made it more difficult for Lynn to back the camper into our reserved sight. It was so quiet, the solitude so complete, you could almost hear it echoing itself with even more of the same.

It was my job to stand behind the camper and direct Lynn, but he couldn’t see me, so when he got too close to the picnic table or the fire pit or the ledge, I would have to yell, “No, no, you’re going to hit the picnic table, pull up.” “No, now you are going to go off the edge, pull up!” “No, stop, you’re going to run over the fire pit!”

After a few moments of this, a nice man from Leavenworth, Washington, who was in the camp next to ours came over and offered to park the trailer for Lynn, which he gladly accepted. He slid it in there slick as a whistle and while he was doing that, another camper came over with a huge flashlight to ask if we needed help getting it leveled, which Lynn foolishly declined.

It turned out we did need more help. We were parked on a small slope and one of the sides of the trailer listed markedly to the front left where the head of our bed is.

We spent the next hour and a half with miniature flashlights trying to make it level - up here, down there, down here, up there - then start over. It was kind of comical, really, us sneaking around in the cold darkness whispering and trying to get set up without bringing more attention to ourselves.

Finally we got it “good enough,” meaning it wasn’t level but we were tired of trying. We would just try to level our bed from the inside with blankets. By switching our heads to the foot of the bed, it worked enough that we never did get it better than “good enough”.

We wrestled around inside the small trailer making the bed and getting into our pajamas and discovered there was no water. The other time we took the camper out we hauled all of our water with us only to find there were water hook ups there, so we figured this time we wouldn’t haul the extra weight only to find out this camp ground did not include water.

Finally after “heads or tailing” it for the best side of the bed we turned out our lights and went to sleep. I have no idea what time it was that we heard a loud rumbling and the trailer started to shake, but we were both wide awake in a flash and sitting in our bed as a few things fell off the counter.

“It’s an earthquake!” I yelled. It seemed to continue forever and was getting even louder. I opened the curtain and to my horror the trees were going past us at an alarming rate.

“Somebody is pulling us away,” I screamed to Lynn as I jumped out of bed to throw open the door, which was somehow locked from the outside and wouldn’t open!

I could see through the window that we were about to be pulled out of the campground onto the highway and could tell the driver wasn’t going to stop or even slow down. Our last hope was if we could wake up any of the campers.

I took a huge breath and screamed a long drawn out “HELP” as loud as I could. The next thing I knew Lynn was shaking me awake saying, “Ted, Ted, you’re having a nightmare!” I suddenly hoped I hadn’t succeeded in waking up the campers.

“Did I scream loud?” I asked him in a stage whisper.

“Very”, he whispered back.

“Be quiet and don’t move,” I whispered back as I started to laugh uncontrollably while I tried to explain my dream to my bewildered spouse.

We had to put our heads in our pillows to muffle our laughter so no one would know where the noise was coming from. I listened for campers to start shouting and looking for a victim in the brush and trees but I only heard a few camper doors open and shut and some dogs that got a little over excited.

I couldn’t get back to sleep. I’d think of it and start laughing again, remembering how loud I had screamed.

[If you would like to contribute to The Elder Storytelling Place, the guidelines are here. We would all be pleased to read your stories.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Delightful story. I felt the panic and then the laughter at the end. What a night!

Delightful, delightful. I am sitting here with a giant grin on my face.


That was the funniest story I ever read.

Do you think you will ever go camping again?

I hope so, so you can write your new adventure for us to enjoy.

Oh, wow, I thought for sure it was real! I'd never go camping again, that's for sure!

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