This is a "rebroadcast" from my very first attempt at blogging back in January 2006. In order to chronicle our adventures, I needed to add this one to the story.
My husband Jim and I and our 4 sons moved the end of August 2004 to the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota from the "big city" of Fargo, ND. Having lived in the city for all of my life, living in the country has been a whole new experience for me. The boys immediately took to country living and have loved it ever since. My experience has been more like throwing a cat into water! Yes, it is possible for a city girl to become a country girl, but the adjustment takes more time for some than others!
We arrived on our property around 6:00 p.m., later than anticipated. I had only seen the land once, to see if I thought this was the property that God had planned for our next residence. Jim and our sons had already spent two weeks here, living in our 1974 model pop up camper. Jim had decided not to close up the camper the last time he was here, thinking everything would be okay and it would look more like someone was living here. Well, during the week they were gone the area received about 7 inches of rain, and there was a terrible wind storm. When we arrived we discovered that one of the cables to hold down one side of the canvas tent on the pop up camper had broken during the storms, allowing rain to enter the camper. One half of the camper was soaked, including the foam cushions that made up two of the beds. We hauled out the mattresses, and tried to clean up as best we could. I am not a camper, as I enjoy the comforts of a nice bed and bathroom facilities, so this was not the way I had anticipated adjusting to a life of camping!
I did not know what to expect in the way of food storage, so I brought only the bare minimum of food. We had been given a refrigerator, but I soon discovered that Jim was utilizing it for the storage of tools. My chest freezer was also sitting outside -- with many tools inside. We did have a dorm size refrigerator, and that was large enough to store a half gallon of milk and some eggs, but not a whole lot more. Thankfully we had stopped in the town of Rugby to eat supper before arriving, so I didn't have to tackle using the camp stove that night.
Our bathroom facilities consisted of a compost toilet in the woods, located across the field from where the camper was situated. The toilet was originally close to the camper, but Jim had moved the camper across the field to make sure it was out of the way from construction of the basement. The boys had thatched a roof and one wall for the compost toilet, but there wasn't any other source of privacy!
I struggled to figure out a way to sleep all six of us in the camper with half of the sleeping facilities completely soaked. I managed to place Jim on one of the tables that converted to a bed, and used a mat to cover up the wet plywood and rolled out his sleeping bag. The "dry side" table was brought down and Peter (10) and Jonathan (13) slept on that. The trouble was the camper's manufacturer's idea of a double bed is a lot smaller than mine, and Peter kept falling out of bed. I placed myself, Andrew (8) and David (5) on the dry double bed side, and now know the meaning of being "stacked like cordwood."
Bedtime was interesting. We took turns telling each other to "don't look" as someone would change into nighttime clothing. Thankfully everyone cooperated and we all were ready for bed. I needed to "use the bathroom" one more time, and as I was more than a bit on the crabby side I decided to find it myself. I took a flashlight and proceeded across the very dark field and into the woods. I found the compost toilet and did what I needed to do, then got turned around and ended up walking deeper into the woods instead of out. All I could think of was how many beady eyes would stare back at me as I shined my flashlight to try to find the way out! Thankfully I calmed down enough to find my way back to the compost toilet and out of the woods, but my heart was certainly pounding.
I don't think anyone slept that night, as a wind came up and blew in a circular motion around the field and through the trees. I remember one set of trees in particular would rub together and make a kind of squeaking sound. This was the first time in my life I had heard the howls of coyotes, and wondered if they could or would chew their way through the camper's canvas and to us. I felt guilty as I had the two younger boys sleeping with me on the side of the bed toward the outside (they were smaller and the ceiling was lower over there), and was afraid the coyotes could get to them before me. It's interesting how many unreasonable thoughts can go through a person's mind when overtired and very much under stress.I neglected to mention that we did not have electricity since the electrical pole with an outlet was now across the field, not far from the compost toilet. It was a cloudy night, and as soon as the last flashlight was extinguished there was nothing that could be seen -- not even my hand in front of my eyes. It was a very strange feeling to not even be able to see the boys that were sleeping right next to me.
Later that night the rain began to fall. The camper's roof was metal, and what was probably a soft rain sounded more like BB pellets bouncing off the roof. We all lay as still as we could (who could move?!), waiting for daylight to arrive.