Hello campers, after listening to our friends RV Family Travel Atlas talking about epic camping fails we got talking about some of our favorite stories from past adventures, we’ve done a lot of trips (check out the Inn Town Campground’s Instagram feed for some travel flashbacks), but it was fun to stop and think about some of the trips where things didn’t exactly go as planned. We’ll be back next month with an update on the construction of the Inn Town Campground.
Top 10 Camping Snafus
1: Car camping without a car
We took a 10-day car camping trip to Colorado to attend a wedding and our car broke down twice on the trip – once in Green River, UT and once in Pagosa Springs, CO. The tow truck dropped us off at the Green River State Park where we waited for 3 days to have the car’s rear differential repaired. Car camping without a car is a challenge, as nothing was packed or organized in a way that worked when the tow truck picked us up on the side of I-70. Then, just before the wedding the car’s water pump went out, leaving us stranded again!
2: Major engine surgery in the middle of a road trip
We owned a 1981 VW van, affectionately called Nora, and we were 2 weeks into a 2 1/2 month trip when a major oil leak required Dan to remove the entire engine to replace a $2 seal. We lived to tell that tale and continued our journey, but we had some moments of doubt as we looked at the engine in pieces on his mother’s garage floor. Prior to this project the most extensive car repair Dan had ever done was to change the oil.
3: Wedding crashers in the bush
We went camping at Kidd’s Bush on Lake Hawea in New Zealand and after one peaceful night of camping, a group of people arrived for a surprise destination wedding and set up camp around us – marquee, band and the whole 9 yards. The remaining part of the weekend getaway was not the quiet family camp-out we had expected.
4: Windy Wyoming
Dan was driving across I-80 in Wyoming on a very windy day, pulling our vintage trailer with the kids in the truck. Suddenly, when he looked in the side rear-view mirror, he realized that the door to the trailer was wide open and his jacket was flapping in the breeze. The handle to the trailer had come loose and fallen onto the interstate and the door wouldn’t close. A bungee cord and a tie down strap held the door in place until he was able to do a temporary fix in Rawlins, Wyoming.
5: Stuck in the mud in Marlborough
We’d driven thousands of kilometers around the South Island of New Zealand in our Toyato Hiace campervan, but unfortunately upon trying to leave Port Ligar, in a remote section of the Marlborough Sounds we got stuck in the mud. We had already delayed our departure by one day and nearly had to stay for a second unexpected night!
6: The Dalton Highway wiggly cable incident
On the Dalton Highway, the desolate section of the highway to the Arctic Circle in Alaska, our VW van just stopped running. Stranded on the side of a dirt road we checked everything we could think of that might be causing the problem. A construction crew happened to drive by and stopped to offer help and after they also checked everything we discovered that one of the cables had wiggled loose on the bumpy road, but didn’t fully disconnected. So, despite looking connected, it was really just barely hanging on. Thankfully we were back on the road within an hour, but help was very far away if we hadn’t found the loose cable.
7: North to South…or South to North using your internal compass upside down while down under
During our two-month long tour around New Zealand, we had to book our ferry passage to travel from the South to the North Island with our campervan. On the eve of our crossing, I realized I had accidentally bought the ticket going the wrong direction. Thankfully the ferry customer service took pity on me and I didn’t have to pay to change the ticket for the correct direction (or pay to cross twice).
8: Curiously cold in Curio Bay. Brrrr!
Camping at Curio Bay, in the Catlins of New Zealand’s South Island, we had a great weekend get away with some friends in a beautiful spot… until a gale force southerly, so strong that we couldn’t hear each other talk roared into the campground. People always talk about the crazy southerlies in New Zealand, but let’s just say camping in one was no fun, we ended up packing up early and going home, complete with a stop for fish & chips in Balclutha.
9: A bite from the poison apple on Teton Pass
Thankfully we’ve never had any major medical issues on camping adventures (the kid with the broken arm did just fine camping for 3 weeks in a cast). However, on a trip with the vintage trailer, Dan and the boys stopped at the top of Teton Pass in Wyoming to have a snack. Dan decided to have an apple and unfortunately had an allergic reaction that started on the way down the pass. The apple caused his tongue and throat to swell while driving down the pass in the truck with the trailer. Fortunately, he safely made it to the bottom of the hill and took a Benadryl to offset the reaction.
10: I heart bears
While sea kayaking in Glacier National Park in Alaska we had a close encounter with a bear. It was a curious black bear who decided to come check out our camp, we tried all the tricks the training video had suggested: singing, waving our arms, yelling and making loud noises. The bear didn’t react to any of it. Finally we decided the best bet to avoid this very curious bear was to remove ourselves from its path, escaping to the water in our sea kayak (leaving half our gear, spray skirts and life jackets on the beach). The bear decided to follow suit and swim out to join use. We paddled back to our stuff, packed it quickly before the bear and impending tide reached us again. Apparently two bi-pedal campers are far more intriguing than scary to Alaskan black bears.
What’s your favorite camping story where things didn’t go according to plan? It’s all a part of the adventure, but I know these stories always sound way better after the fact.