22 June, 2012

Our unexpected camping adventures

So we're back from camping. And we did have an adventure! It went a bit differently from how we'd planned, mostly because of the typhoon that ploughed through the area on our second night.

Behind our tent. Blissfully vacant.
On Monday morning as we were packing up to go we received a phone call from the campsite telling us that a typhoon was forecast and that it would probably be too dangerous to camp there on Tuesday evening. I felt like a balloon that had developed a hole. I hate it when I'm looking forward to something very much and then something happens that threatens the event. So, I prayed, and I asked other people to pray, that this typhoon would go elsewhere, that we'd be able to continue on with our plans. Desperately I clung to the hope that my much anticipated break would not be destroyed.

When we got to the campsite a bit after 2pm, we rolled up to the Service Centre full of hope (or at least I did). And they refused to allow us to register for more than one night. My dream of a three night camp was over. Blow!

Dinner the first night. Lots of campfire action!
But then we threw ourselves into enjoying our short stay as much as we could, for example we ate an enormous amount of food for dinner. And we didn't totally set up camp, we didn't set up our awning that usually covers our table and cooking area.

We still went to bed hopeful that that weather forecast would be different in the morning. However we knew that we probably didn't have any chance, because we had to decide by about 7.30 whether to pack up or not, before the Service Centre was open, and there was no internet access for us to check the weather independently. We had to decide that early because we had to go to town, 45 mins away, to pick up our middle son from camp, which finished at 10am.

So, though the sky was a little grey, there was no rain when we awoke (at 4.30am!) on Tuesday morning. Nor was there a message from the managers of the park to say we could stay longer. So, we packed up. We had no idea what the rest of the day would hold. That was a bit unsettling, and pretty unusual for us planning Marshalls!

We got back to our son's campsite (through 22 tunnels) in time and just as it started to drizzle. At that point I started to feel like we'd done the right thing in packing up. I tried to capitalise on some networking I'd done previously and asked one of the campsite caretakers I'd previously met if she knew of anywhere we could stay. She was keen to help, but didn't know too many options that were within our budget (it is a fairly expensive area). One she knew of was a youth hostel, where you could rent a room, but with no privacy and nowhere you could cook your own food and nowhere for three energetic boys to play. Another we eventually found and enquired at, but it would have cost us 42,000 yen (or more than $AU500) for one night. Another camping place with cabins was full and we were getting desperate.

The lounge that turned into a comfortable
bed for David and I, and the staircase to
the loft for the boys.
The boys were restless and we were frustrated, so we put it to them. Should we give up and go home? Our eldest son, the one most unsettled by uncertainty, implored that we continue our search. So we stopped and made sandwiches and continued on. The next place we tried was another Christian retreat centre. They had room for us, so we went.

It was like a palace. We had a room with a loft, plus a large meeting room with games and Lego. Plus our own bathroom and access to a kitchen where we could cook our own food. It was wonderful and the boys loved it. We just looked out at the rain soaking the ground and the wind slashing the trees around and knew that though God hadn't redirected the typhoon, he'd provided all we needed.

We were the only residents
at Fukuin no ie. And they
put our names up on the
board at the entrance.
The next morning the sun was shining and the blue sky we hadn't seen in weeks was out on show. We were able to stay till after lunch and then take our eldest son to his camp (at the same campsite we'd picked his brother up from the day before).

Earlier in the morning we went for a bit of a stroll down the river. It was raging. As we tried to take various "off road" trails, we soon were stopped by our not-waterproof shoes. The water was flowing everywhere. So glad that we weren't camped out the night before. Not to mention that we wouldn't have gotten much sleep because it would have been so noisy in a tent.

Japan, a land of origami mountains!
As we walked along I probed our middle son about whether he wanted to go camping that night. We'd decided in the quiet time after we put the boys to bed, but before we went to bed the night before that if it were nice the next day we'd go camping again . . . but only if our middle son wanted to. Sounds a bit odd, but he'd been at a camp himself (not under canvas) since Friday and was potentially very tired. He's also a pretty volatile chap and we didn't want to be in the position of forcing him to do something he really didn't want him to do. But neither did we want him to miss out on camping with the family.

So I did some delicate negotiation (up there with diplomatic negotiation). He was leaning towards going home (he is a bit of a home-bod), but when I mentioned that he'd miss out on cooking sausages over the fire, he changed his mind instantly. Sausages—I'd hit on the key!

From behind our tent to the covered outdoor kitchen.
So we went back and set up our tent again, at the same convenient tent-site as before. We had an onsite covered kitchen all to ourselves and the toilets were very close. There were only one other set of campers and they were way up the hill, we saw them twice. It was so peaceful.

It was fun, and not too stressful. The weather was gorgeous and temperature much nicer than humidity and heat that Tokyo was suffering. And we had sausages!

Now we're back, after three nights away. I'm so glad for that mental break. I've spent the day tied to the computer checking magazine proofs. The break earlier in the week was wonderful, even if not quite what I expected.


Karen said...

Glad you survived.
That staircase is amazing!! We stayed somewhere once on holidays with a staircase like that, when Rosie was a baby and the big boys could get up and down by themselves. Not at all suitable for the toddler and crawling baby we have now, but it was kind of fun at the time we did it :)

Wendy said...

The staircase was amazing. But much better than the ladder that usually comes with lofts!