Our family loves camping.

Or maybe Shauna and I love camping and tell the kids they love it too. At any rate, we packed gob-loads of camping gear back in Calgary and hauled it two Provinces so we could enjoy camping at Grand Beach here in Manitoba, so don’t tell me a dismal forecast with Thunderstorms looming is going to stop us from camping and liking it. Boo-ya!

So, we camped. And the thunderstorms morphed from a foreboding looming into a camp-thrashing booming. As the heavens began to unleash their fury later in the evening, we abandoned our dining tent for our sleeping tent to batten down for the night. (Special note: Using phrases like, “Come hell or high water” is not advisable, since hell is unlikely to arrive before the water does, and in Manitoba high water is often as likely as the dawn).

There was a moment, though, when I contemplated scuttling all our food and coolers from the dining tent back to the minivan. But we were tired, the rain was coming down pretty hard, and what were the chances of lions, tigers, or bears (oh my) in the middle of a rainstorm? At that point, I was quite willing to take my chances.

As it turns out, those little turning points are sometimes our only chances.

Fast forward into the inky, flashing blackness of the dead of night. The rain has tapered off, but the forest surrounding our tent is alive with the chorus of water droplets pooling, splattering, splashing, and squishing. But something else has awakened me. Twigs snapping. Brush folding. Something is moving out there. Something bigger than the cute little rabbits bounding around the campsite in nicer weather. And whatever it is, it’s moving closer.

I bolt upright, grab the flashlight, and shine it out the tent’s window. Nothing. I slide back into my sleeping bag. There it is again. Closer. I jump up, shine my silver weapon, and find a glowing eye twenty feet away in the bush. Now I’m up, and Noah is too. Is it a bear? I have to know what’s out there, if my family is in danger.

Three hundred hours later (hey, it felt like forever) I spotted a raccoon ambling by our tent. Heard it yelp, and later, heard it’s chatty giggle. The next three hundred hours were spent trying to shoo the things away from our dining tent using nothing but my flashlight and harsh whispers.

Ah, the stupid food we left out. Suddenly I wished I’d stuffed it away before bed. And realized I would probably have been sleeping If I had done that. Nuts.

The next morning we found a little hole gnawed in our brand new dining tent, and the little blighters  had made off with our bag of bread, pita bread, and hot dog buns. Avast, ye scurvy dogs!

It was my fault, though. I ignored that niggling notion and paid for it. I bet you can relate, huh?