Last Thursday we left home to drive 4-1/2 hours away into central WA for a church camp. Last year when we went, we arrived one day earlier than the rest of the group and really enjoyed the quiet family time together, so we decided to do the same this year. We called the caretaker on Wednesday and left a message and also several times before leaving on Thursday. No response.
We decided to just hit the road anyway thinking that perhaps their phone service was out because it is at a remote location. We arrived around dusk and were greeted with a locked gate. Not good. We parked the van and crept under the gate to look around. There before us was a herd of 15-20 cows grazing at the camp! Weird. They did not leave piles of manure, but "spreads" of manure - some 8 feet long, 4 feet wide. Along with the elk droppings that are typically there, it reminded me of brownies and chocolate chips. Lovely.
We looked around and saw that everything was locked, the dining hall, the caretaker's home, the bathrooms, cabins, everything!! The mudroom to the caretaker's home was open and we walked inside and could peek and see their kitchen. There was a sink full of dirty dishes and dirty dishes on the counter. It made me think they left abruptly - was there an emergency?
It had taken 45 minutes to drive through the hilly and windy mountainous pass and I really dreaded driving through all of that again in search of a hotel for our very large family (and let's not forget the $$). One last time, we walked around a cabin and found a window open! Dh popped the screen off and sent skinny Brown Eyes in and he opened the cabin door for us. This also happened to be the cabin that was originally assigned to us! Yes, that's right, we broke into the cabin at church camp!
Thankfully, our cabin was fairly close to the gated entrance, so we all went back and forth to the van getting our bedding and belongings. We had brought 3 meals and a porta-potty, so we were good to go. Because there was no stove to cook dinner, we ate our next day's lunch for dinner: hummus and chips, veggies from our garden and dip, and even a fresh peach pie! It was so yummy.
The next day we had another look around. We found one door open to the dining hall that we had previously missed. Good, that meant I could cook our lunch. We were beginning to get worried because our church friends were on their way and we had no way of notifying them that the caretaker wasn't there and the camp was locked down because of no cell service.
In the meantime, dh, always the tinkering engineer, worked on a boat for Bunny. He had begun it at home, but finished it at camp by adding a "sail" from a paper plate and adding string.
Finally, about noon, the caretaker and his family arrived back home. They hadn't had even one full day break all summer because of all the camps over the summer and when they realized they had a 2-day stretch with no campers, they up and left everything as is. On top of that, Mrs. Caretaker, 8-wks pregnant, was sick as a dog. That explained a lot.
Within an hour of the caretaker's arrival, our church friends started arriving and we had quite the story to tell. The caretaker actually laughed at us when we told him our story. We knew he would be fine with it. But what a story - going to church camp and breaking in! This will be great memories for our family.
Our church has a bunch of volleyball maniacs, including the pastor. There is a gym at the camp and people traditionally play all night until the wee hours. (This is the place where I tore my ACL last year playing volleyball.)
We arrived safely back home to see our apple and pear trees dropping their fruit. Guess what I'll be doing the next few days?