OK, I survived. Barely! I might be exaggerating a little bit *wink*
After spending just about three weeks gearing up and buying anything and everything camping related, and turning our living room into a Mecca of sporting goods, we were ready! Around 8am on Sunday, October 31st we set out for the beautiful area of Boone, NC. (notice the date we left?) We packed up Murphy & Harley and off we went…
After a couple of stops here and there, we had arrived around noon to the very welcoming Grandfather Campground. We checked in and received the map to our site. So far so good…
We took a couple of pictures to capture our excitement of how impressed we were so far and then made our way to our campsite. After driving up the gravel road and seeing the campsite markers we finally found ours. At first sight we were like “Whaaaaaat? Is this IT?” It seemed to be just a flat area and nothing special. We were told many, many times campsite T69 was the BEST site and the most recommended, but really? We weren’t convinced. That is until we actually got out of the car and walked around. WOW. What we had seen was just the parking space for T69! *facepalm* The entire campsite, including the fire ring, picnic table, and creek (yes, a creek!) was actually down a small hill past the parking area. It was beautiful! We knew now why this particular site was a favorite! It’s a three-tier campsite with the tent area being in the middle area, and the picnic table and fire ring being on the bottom running along the Granny Branch Creek. It was truly stunning! The creek was dried up but that didn’t matter at all. We knew this was our site!
We let the dogs out to explore and they loved it! We then proceeded to “set up camp” and boy, I did NOT expect it to be this hard! It was like I was at home doing yard work! I had to clear the area around the fire ring with the small rake we brought and then clear a path down the incline area for us and the dogs, because it was loaded with leaves! It is Autumn after all! Rich started with the tent while I did “yard work”. We had arrived at the campsite around noon and it took us until around 4PM to just get camp set up! Wow, this day was blown. Nah… we hadn’t really planned on going anywhere the first day anyway.
Rich thought since we were losing daylight (sunset was around 6:30) I better head to the store to get the essential groceries we would need for the next few days. I wasn’t too thrilled to head out on my own in an area I wasn’t familiar with, but hey… this was a trip about NOT being a wuss, right? 😉 I went to the local Lowe’s Foods store about 3 miles away and got everything we needed. What beautiful sights I saw on the way there! You could really see Grandfather Mountain in all it’s glory from NC Hwy 105. I made it back to the campsite around 5’ish and Rich already had the campfire going. Toasty! The dogs had somewhat settled in and we proceeded with making night #1’s dinner: Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, and pork & beans! Yum!
We cleaned up and did our dishes and put everything away right before sunset. It got dark fast! It was becoming obvious that it was going to be a clear night for star gazing. As soon as it was really, really dark we set out to the main field of the campground to look up… and OH MY GAH! It was the most stunning thing I’ve ever seen… my science loving husband pointed out that you could actually see the Milky Way! Beautiful. You don’t see things like this in the city. No way. It was then that it really set in that we were really far away from home, in the woods, on Halloween, in an area with wild animals. *shiver*
I should mention again that up until this trip, I had NEVER been camping before. I had NEVER even slept outside. NEVER. I was nervous to say the least. What was I nervous about? Well… Critters! Not so much bugs because I knew with it being colder they wouldn’t really be a problem, same for snakes. What I WAS nervous about was bears, mountain lions, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and the like. OK… really anything and everything that could creep up on me and maul me. Yup. I’m a wuss. I can’t help it. This brings me to what my first night camping was like…
Once we got back from stargazing it really hit me: we were in the woods. We sat by the campfire and kept warm. We had beer of course, yay! The dogs started to calm down and relax, more Murphy than Harley. I don’t think she knew what to do. We sat around the campfire and just talked. There would be several minutes that would go by that there was no talk at all. Just silence. I was kinda too nervous to talk. I wanted to be able to hear anything, other than the sound of my own voice. Call me crazy. Rich knew I was nervous/scared and kept trying to reassure me we were fine, but this was new for me and I had to soak it all in. We decided to call it an early night since we were up so early, and due to being tired from the long drive and the exhausting set up of camp… this is where it gets crazy.
We changed into our PJ’s in the tent, set up the doggie blanket in the corner, and invited the dogs in. They went to their area immediately like they knew exactly what to do… so far a-OK. That is until we zipped up the tent, turned down the LED lantern light, and were all snug-as-a-bug in our double sleeping bag. As soon as everything was quiet out in the campsite and we were in our tent, I heard what I didn’t want to hear… the sound of leaves crackling under a critter’s footsteps! I WAS SCARED SHITLESS. I couldn’t see it. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t want to. The dogs weren’t even making a peep, which freaked me out even more! Weren’t they supposed to protect us!? Weren’t they supposed to have a sense for stuff like this? Rich kept telling me it was something small based on the sound of the footsteps… what was he? Daniel Boone? I didn’t care, it was something and that was enough to freak me the hell out! I was shaking profusely. I couldn’t stop. I tried. Rich tried. The more Rich tried to help me, the more I freaked out. Deep breath in… slowly exhale out. I never found out what it was, but I don’t think I slept more than 2 hours all night. Rich told me to put in my headphones to block out the noise but I couldn’t get up and I didn’t want him to get up. I was frozen.
I was overwhelmingly excited to see daylight in the morning, puffy eyes and all!
We had a big day planned… Grandfather Mountain and the Mile High Swinging Bridge!
Day/Night #2 coming up…
For now, here are the pics from the first day/night of our trip! I hope you enjoy seeing them just as much as we enjoyed taking them!