If you missed part one of this post, you can find it by clicking here.
As you will recall from the last post, we were on our way to the campground. I am not the best person when it comes to obtaining directions if I am at least somewhat familiar with a city. If I have a few anchor points or landmarks, I always figure that I can find my way just about anywhere. I'm not sure when it started, but for many years I have simply trusted my instincts when looking for a particular spot.
Occasionally, this doesn't work for me and I end up lost and completely confused as to how I got myself so twisted around, but as a general statement my directional instincts are pretty decent. Sam is the exact opposite in this regard. He could nearly get lost in our own backyard, so when I shared with him that I wasn't exactly sure where we were going in regard to getting to the campground, I sensed his concern.
When we arrived, I went inside the main office to get registered and everyone was cordial, informative, and they even took the time to personally walk us to our site. I was convinced that the dozens of reviewers were completely crazy, or that they had been reviewing the wrong campground. Everything seemed great and I was excited to get to camping.
There were a lot of people on the grounds and some of the spaces seemed more cramped than others, but we were on a tent site and our neighbors were at enough of a distance that we didn't feel completely on top of each other. True, we could hear each other talking at regular volume levels, but that's to be expected when sleeping in a tent at a campground, I think.
We let the dogs loose on some attached-to-a-post cables so they could sniff around and still be within sight if we needed to pull them closer. As we started to take out all of the gear, I saw that a swarm of insects were following me. I was lightly brushing them away from my face when I suddenly realized these were mosquitoes.
These weren't little mosquitoes either. I have seen larger ones (not quite as large as Mosquito the movie - of course, those were infected with alien DNA), but these were definitely not the average sized version that we see at home... and they just wouldn't leave me alone.
Now, I get bit at home if I'm not wearing some kind of mosquito repellent, so I came prepared for such a situation, but I was amazed at the quantity of mosquitoes that were constantly landing or flying around my face. I doused myself in spray from head to toe a couple of times just to make sure they'd leave me alone, but they just kept biting.
I looked over at our Labrador and the mosquitoes were all over her face and legs. I use a Deet-free repellent that is made from oils and other extracts so I figured I'd put some on her as well as they were biting her. I sprayed her down, but they just kept landing. Neither of us could escape these little flying nuisances. Within a matter of no more than a couple of minutes, I had at least a dozen swollen, welting bites that were visible.
I decided I needed to distract myself and help Sam with getting the tent set up. We managed to get the tent upright, but I was swatting and slapping at mosquitoes the entire time. I kept saying out loud, "I don't know what to do. They won't leave me alone," but Sam didn't have any suggestions to offer.
As I glanced around the campground, wondering how everyone else was dealing with these pests, no one seemed to be mad swiping or even experiencing the mosquitoes. What gives? I couldn't help but wonder. Meanwhile, the mosquitoes were eating me alive. I couldn't even stand outside of the car without having dozens of them biting at me, and our Lab didn't seem to be faring any better.
Sam had been busy bustling around the site, getting things together. We were doing our best to avoid the nightmare of bike races, camping, and dogs we'd experienced in the past and we really wanted everything prepared by the time the sun dropped below the mountains. That part was still going okay. Sam had gone into the tent to attempt to inflate our mattress and get the sleeping bag set up.
He had been in the tent for quite awhile when I started to wonder if he was okay. I really, really didn't want to exit the car though because the mosquitoes were everywhere just waiting to attack again. I had just decided to give it a few more minutes when Sam emerged from the tent.
He looked displeased.
As he strode over to the car and got in I asked what was wrong. He said that the air mattress wasn't inflating. We had brought a new set of batteries because we were pretty sure the ones we'd used the last time would be dead, but even the new ones weren't doing anything.
"I've tried everything," Sam stated with a look of defeat on his face. "I guess we're sleeping on the ground... or not sleeping on the ground more precisely."
My initial thought was to try and use the bike pump to inflate the mattress, but the connections were all wrong, so that just wouldn't work. Then, I thought that perhaps we should just go home as this really didn't seem to be going well. If we left then, we could be home at a somewhat reasonable hour, but then we'd have to be up again by 4a in order to get back up with enough time to prepare for the ride. Of course, that felt entirely wasteful and it just didn't make sense.
There aren't a lot of retailers or stores in Leadville. The population is small and doesn't require all of the typical stores available to those who live in moderately small cities all the way up to very large ones, but I thought maybe there was another option for us. I ended up pondering aloud, "I wonder if Safeway would have something that would work as a substitute? We might as well go and take a look. It can't hurt anything."
Sam agreed and we were off to see what we could find. We ended up at a dollar store that just so happened to have one air mattress tucked away in the back. Lucky us! With purchase in hand, we went back to the campsite.
On our way, I wondered if we should just set up sleeping quarters in the back of the car rather than in the tent. I was getting really concerned about these killer mosquitoes because I knew I wouldn't survive the night with constant bites. After attempting this, we realized that the back of our hatchback is simply not conducive for a queen sized air mattress, so we ended up going back to the tent to set up sleeping arrangements.
Sam had me go inside the tent to prepare the mattress and sleeping bag to get away from the bite-y creatures. I seemed to be safe once inside the zipped tent, so I was pleased to discover that I would not be eaten alive. Although, in many ways it felt too late as I was now covered in little itchy spots all over my arms, legs and back.
We were both pretty exhausted at this point and ready for bed. We didn't even care if we changed clothes at this point because everything seemed to be working against us. It was still fairly early (about 8:30p), but we both agreed that getting rest was important, especially with a tough ride the following morning for Sam, so we decided to call it a night and go to sleep.
It was a bit early for me personally to go to bed, but I really was tired, so I thought that if I counted sheep in my mind or told myself stories silently that eventually I would drift off. That did not happen.
Our tent seemed to be on a very slight slope and I continued to slip down toward Sam and he was getting pushed off the edge of the mattress on to the ground. Additionally, our dogs, who were nestled on top of us, refused to budge making readjustments nearly impossible. We were both frustrated and annoyed.
A new arrival to the campground had just drove in and they were attempting to set up. For what must have been an hour and a half (at minimum), we listened to the sound of stakes being hammered into the ground and people laughing and talking loudly. We realized it was still not horribly late, so we did our best to ignore it and hope that we'd drift off.
Then, just as the camper noises began to fade, the various dogs around the campground began to bark. It started with the dog two sites away from us and spread around the grounds until even our dogs were barking. This continued on until about 3am. Just as we would think we could drift off to sleep, another round of barking dogs started. At one point, some coyotes could be heard howling in the distance and that started the campground dogs barking as well.
Through all of this, we had continued to slip off our sleeping spot and poor Sam ended up half on and half off the mattress (which was not holding much air at all, so we were really laying on the ground regardless).
The night and early morning had become quite cool. We were down to about 38F/3C, which, while not technically a freezing temperature, is awfully close when one is not covered completely and/or is in an already uncomfortable situation. Our Lab had begun to shake uncontrollably, so I pulled her up to me, trying to keep her warm. As I pet her, she relaxed, but couldn't stop shaking. I tried to wrap her in part of the sleeping bag, but it was twisted in such a manner that neither Sam nor myself seemed capable of moving.
At about 5a, we gave up on trying to sleep. We both realized it just wasn't going to happen, so we decided to get up and get ready for the race. The camp/bike/dog trip we'd hoped to not replicate seemed to be happening regardless of what we did. Sam was in some pain. His back was not doing well from the position he'd laid (though not slept) in all night. I knew he was hurting, but the only thing I could do was tell him that I'd support whatever decision he made. If he wanted to ride, I'd do whatever I could to help him, and if not, we could go home.
His response: "If I wasn't going to ride we would have gone home and slept last night. I'm riding... Oh, I'm riding."
Okay then, I guess Sam is riding, I thought to myself, and we got about the morning.
**That's it for part two of the Silver Rush tale. Next time, we'll get into the actual ride (finally, I know).
Part 3 is now up and can be found here.