100 Percent Chance of Rain

Dorothy-RosbyThere’s only one thing more likely to cause a torrential downpour than me washing my car and that’s me going camping. If you’re suffering from drought, just hire me to come pitch a tent on your property.

I used to think it was the tent’s fault. My family used a variety of them over the years, and they were all waterproof—mostly. I’ve lived through enough droughts to appreciate rain whenever it falls, but lying on a sleeping bag all afternoon while puddles lap up against the sides of your tent tends to dampen your enthusiasm for both rain and camping. If I’m going to spend my vacation surrounded by water, I think I ought to be on a cruise.

So last summer, we built ourselves an ark. I’m joking! Actually, we bought a camper, which was easier. And on its maiden voyage, we learned that it wasn’t the tent causing rain; it was us. Voyage is a very good word for that first trip we took with our new camper—and for most of the campouts we’ve taken since.

It’s okay though. Sitting in the camper during a storm is much more pleasant than spending the afternoon in a tent. For one thing, the Ark, as I affectionately call it, has a small kitchen. While rain may dampen my enthusiasm for camping, it never dampens my appetite.

The Ark has a bathroom too. It’s so small you could sit on the toilet and wash your hair at the same time, but it beats paddling to the outhouse in the pouring rain. It also puts an end to the perennial night-time question of the tent camper: Can I or can I not hold it until morning?

I sleep better in the Ark too, and not just because of the bed. I get cold at night, even in my mummy bag and long johns. And I’m afraid of bears even where there aren’t any.

So yes, I love our little camper. Not that it’s been perfect. There was the day we arrived at our campsite, opened the door and discovered a puddle of dish soap all over the counter because someone hadn’t closed the lid tight. I’m not saying who.

And then there was the time the battery died in the middle of the night, setting off a cacophony of beeping from the refrigerator and the smoke detector. That never happened in our tent.

We’ve had to learn to conserve water because the Ark only has a 30-gallon water tank. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is. None of our tents had water tanks at all.

And while our camper is definitely bigger than any of the tents we’ve had, it’s still tiny.  I’m looking for a camper that’s very small on the outside and very large on the inside. Incidentally, that’s the same thing I look for when I’m shopping for a purse, and with as much success.

The Ark does sleep four, but you’d really have to like them. And you’d probably like them a lot less after spending a few days together inside while the rain comes down outside, which I can almost guarantee, it will.

(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact drosby@rushmore.com.)

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