Written by: Steph Dreessen

Last week, we were camping in Alabaster state park when we were conducting researching at Selman cave. The weather was conditioning us four for what lies ahead in New Mexico, meaning the temperature was never below 95 degrees. That’s not including the heat index, which usually bumped it up to the temperature feeling “like 105” most days. Thankfully, our campsite was under full shade because of about 20 Chinese Elm trees (and a few other species that I wasn’t sure about) that surrounded the campsite.

The first few days were great, besides the heat but we found workplaces with air conditioning and outlets so we could conduct our data analysis. Dr. Kloepper mentioned one day that a storm was going to roll in sometime in the early morning. Cassi and I were indifferent to it, because what’s camping without some rain? 

We were wrong. Not only did we get a 3 am wake up call (we went to sleep around 1am), but it was to tell us that “Hey girls, the storm is a little worse than originally thought and we need to take cover.” If those words don’t wake you up, you my friend, are a heavy sleeper. Coincidentally, I am a heavy sleeper and for a quick second I just wanted to stay in the tent and endure whatever storm was headed our way. 

Instead, we all crawled in the car, waited in the campsite driveway, until we heard a smallish branch crash land on our car roof. Up to this point, Dr. Kloepper was him-hawing the idea of whether we should move or not, and that incident decided for us. So we dove up to the park’s main building, sat there for a total of 5 minutes, then decided if the ping pong sized hail comes, our windshield would be broken and we’d have glass to deal with as well. So we moved to the bathroom. By this point in the storm, the raining in pouring down so hard you can only look down and run. So that’s what we did. We gathered our water bottles, Kaipo, Kaipo’s sheet and sprinted into the bathroom. When we opened the door, all the other campers were already in the bathroom! We went to the handicapped stall, laid down Kaipo’s sheet, and sat in there for 2-3 hours.

Once the storm passed through, we went to our car, inspected as best as we could at night to see if anything major happened to the car (nothing did), and headed back for our campsite. We were greeted by a HUGE branch laying exactly where our car was parked. Not to mention a few other fallen tree branches around the site as well. We sat there and someone spoke up stating “Well at least we moved or we’d have bigger problems!” Dr. Kloepper drove us to along a railing where another car was parked and there we sat for the night, sleeping in the car.

When we woke up, we looked to our right and saw a bunch of our clothes scattered in the wide lawn next to our campsite. Then we got out and inspected our campsite. Clothes were muddy, boots filled with water, tent poles were broken, and everything inside our tent was muddy. This event dictated our morning, which consisted of us collecting and rinsing all of our clothes, then we headed out to find a laundromat to wash everything. 

Our attitudes about the whole event were optimistic, since things could’ve gone worse. We’re thankful for our stuff not being completely ruined and being able to  laugh about it!