We had been planning our camping trip for a couple weeks, but both of us are pretty type B so we approached with an enthusiastic “we’ll see what happens! and go with the flow!” attitude. So we made a loose itinerary to send to the parents, checked out some campsites online, and hit the road. We spent the weekend at my Aunt’s house and spent Sunday night reserving our campsites and weighing our airbnb vs hipcamp options. In retrospect, this probably should have been done the week before, but we weren’t too worried.
Monday afternoon we hit the road and headed to campsite one. In addition to being free-babes we are also both quite cheap…our inner broke college kid still whispering worries of our wallets. So to avoid National Park $30 campsite prices, we opted for a camping version of airbnb and spent $10 to camp on someone’s land about 45 minutes away. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but it was far from what we discovered. We pull up to a yard with cars in various states of repair and a dog who did not understand the dangers of standing right behind my back wheels. There was a couple who asked if we were their campers for the night and we followed them down the road. Suddenly the property owner turned up a steep gravel hill and; after sliding on the wet rocks, barely making it up a quarter of the way, I stopped and waited for the all-terrain vehicle to notice I was no longer right behind them. I backed down the driveway and had him lead us to another site. This was right on a river, just a turn off the “main” road. It seemed alright…that is until the wind was blowing and night fell. We threw everything in the car and took a breath as raindrops and leaves hit the roof.
Now, I have a habit in times of emergency situations where I get so focused on the other person I forget to assess my own state. So I asked Siobhan where she was at and what she wanted to do a million times. Then I took a second, a breath, and blurted out that there was about a 10% chance of me sleeping in that damn tent that night. So, after a quick call to my sister for reassurance, we booked it out of there heading up the road we came from fast as all hell until we got enough service to call Mammoth Cave National Park and turn our GPS on.
After an hour fiasco; including driving in the dark, a dropped egg salad sandwich on Siobhan’s ankles, and a trip to get some claws; we arrived at the park. However, the much needed end to the night would not come for another 30 minutes. We drove up to the sites and had missed the rangers by an hour, therefore we had to make our reservations online. We went to the lodge that was in the park to access the very limited wifi and made a reservation. We couldn’t make a reservation for that night though, even though the site was free. So *don’t tell the NPS* we just pulled up, slept in the car, and left at sunrise to come back at check-in time without being discovered.
Healthy Reminder: If it’s your first time tent camping in a while and you’ve listened to one too many true crime podcasts; maybe spend the money for an official (and more populated) campsite.