In the early 1980s, my future wife and I would take extended summer car camping/road trips around the country. There was never more than a loose itinerary, governed only by a few scenic goals, usually national parks, and how far we felt like driving that day. We went north to Acadia and Nova Scotia, west to Yellowstone and Glacier, and south to the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains. There were countless smaller parks thrown in along the way too.

Michael Wilson Feeding Ducks

On the return leg of one of these trips, we stopped at the campground in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The site there consisted of a concrete pad in a large open field. You could hear, but not see the ocean because of the sand dunes, and the gulls and mosquitoes were both like hungry vultures; one squawking for a handout, the other just taking it. The sun was blazing, so we decided to bail out, and headed for the nearest private campground featuring wooded sites. We were assigned a site, set up camp and headed back to the beach.

After about two hours, huge, dark clouds began to form and we dashed back to our car just as a torrential downpour began. Thirty minutes later we arrived at our campsite again to discover that ours was situated at the low spot in camp, and had collected about six inches of water around the tent. Then, as now, we used a Eureka Timberline 4. Fortunately, these tents feature a bathtub floor, which prevented the puddle from entering our tent. It did not however, stop the ducks from enjoying their new swimming hole.

Campsite Lessons Learned:

Check that you are not setting up camp in a spot where rainwater might encroach, and bring enough crackers for the ducks if you don’t.

Michael Wilson

– Campmor employee since 1986
– Began backpacking in 1974
– Summited Mt. Rainier in June 1989 with the Jansport dealer climb
– Climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000 foot peaks, finishing in 1996 on Mt. Isolation
– Climbed Mt. Katahdin 3 times, twice traversing the Knife’s Edge