Several years back, my husband and I were newbie campers.
I grew up camping with my family but my husband and I had never been camping together.
We bought a small used Coachman trailer. We were so excited about it and we booked our first trip to Jacksonport State Park. We had a blast sitting there on the banks of the White River.
Our second trip that summer was to Willow Beach. If you’ve never been there, Willow Beach is a small Army Corps of Engineers Campground in Scott, Arkansas on the banks of the Arkansas River.
It’s a very pleasant campground but, in our experience, there are definitely better times to be there than others.
It was sometime in July, it was about a hundred degrees and there we were at a campground where we couldn’t swim. You would think we would have known better and gone to the lake but we didn’t.
All weekend, we felt like we were being plagued.
It was unbelievable.
Plague number one: mosquitoes
Since Willow Beach doesn’t have sewer hookups and we were going to be there all weekend, we decided to use the showers in the shower house instead of the shower in our camper.
This was a few years ago before they had the new shower house built. So the shower house was pretty old. I didn’t notice until mid shower that the shower house was full of mosquitoes. That is not a situation you want to encounter when you are not clothed.
Let’s just say it was not a peaceful shower and I was trying to get out of there as fast as I could!
Then came the snakes.
Our oldest and only child at the time was about 4 years old. We made up a little game to play with her in the open area next to our campsite. We told her to run and tag all of the trees because they were laid out sort of in the shape of a baseball diamond.
She was having so much fun doing it until she came to the tree closest to our camper and she said, “I’m not going to touch that tree.”
I asked her why and she told me because there was a big snake on it. Sure enough, the biggest black snake I have ever seen was perched there on the trunk of that tree about eye level.
We live in the woods now and I am very experienced with snakes. I have seen my fair share of them and they don’t bother me but back then, that wasn’t the case. And, that snake was huge! …And 4 feet from our camper.
In the middle of the night, our dog woke us up. We looked outside and there was another snake coiled up and hissing at him from the base of a nearby tree.
Here comes the thunderstorm.
The second night there, a huge thunderstorm rolled in.
I have always loved storms so I wasn’t worried about it. Since we were new to camper ownership, we left our awning extended about 2 ft. We figured it would be enough to keep the rain off the door.
However, during the storm, the awning slowly unrolled and filled up like a pool so that we couldn’t open the door to get out of the camper. The next morning, we had to slowly push the awning with our hands to get it to drain the water while we had the door cracked about 6 in.
Next, tree frogs.
The night before the storm, we had stored all of our camp chairs underneath the camper.
The next morning, we looked under the camper to find at least 100 little green tree frogs all over our camp chairs.
They were cute and they were EVERYWHERE!
I have never seen that many at one time.
Around lunch time, I opened the tiny pantry to get some lunch supplies out and noticed that we had been invaded by ants at some point while we were parked there.
That turned into a huge fiasco of trying to pull all of the groceries out of the pantry and figuring out from where the ants were coming in the camper.
Interesting neighbors to say the least.
Besides all of the insects, frogs and thunderstorms, we also had some interesting neighbors at Willow Beach.
They were camping in a very old motor home that literally looked like it had just been pulled out of the river. It was missing all of the windows, it was rusted, and there was green moss growing all over it.
They had the top covered in a big tarp so that it wouldn’t leak in the rain!
They were having a good time but that was one crazy looking rig.
I said I would never camp again.
After that trip, I said I would never camp again and we sold our little Coachman camper after owning it for only 2 months.
We didn’t camp for 6 years after that.
Now, we have a little 14 foot trailer and we camp for weeks at a time. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What did we learn? Some campgrounds are better in the Fall!
Want to hear the crazy part? We went back to Willow Beach last June and were plagued by mayflies.
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