For the past several years my family has attended a wonderful Christian youth event called "A Closer Walk" in Wildwood, N.J.
It really is a nice time that consists of camping on the beach, music, speakers, rides, water slides and a Friday evening fireworks display.
The best part for me is the beach camping. I love being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.
We arrived late Thursday morning and set up our tent and our camp site.
I knew there was a chance of a thunderstorm but wasn't really all that concerned since we had plenty of towels to dry up any water that might drip through the tent.
I watched in the distance as the sky grew darker. Very quickly, the clouds went from overcast to ominous. Still, I was not concerned.
When the beach patrol came by and told us to go seek cover on the boardwalk due to the lightning that we could see in the distance, I made the decision to pack a knapsack of dry clothing for each of us, and to pile everything up on the cooler and plastic bins just to be safe.
While I was taking preventive measures, I heard a female voice from outside of the tent say, "You are going to get flooded out."
When I finished gathering our things, I stepped out of the tent and asked my husband and the kids if she was talking to us.
"Who?" they asked.
"The woman who said about the flooding," I replied.
They all looked at me like I was nuts and I looked back at them in annoyance.
Not wanting to have to deal with the arguing and negative attitudes that would result from my suggesting that we move our tent and gear, I chalked up the flooding comment to my actually being nuts and made my way to the boardwalk to seek cover and grab some grub.
We sat in a little pizza place for some time. It rained fairly hard and I was glad I had covered our piled up belongings with a Neat Sheet to protect them.
When the rain calmed down we started to walk back to our camp site.
It took very little time to spot our tent and when I did my heart and my spirits immediately sank.
Part of the tent had collapsed and the whole thing was now submerged in two feet of water. Everything that I had piled up was knocked over by the collapse and was completely saturated with water and covered in wet sand. We were totally flooded out.
Cold, wet, tired and defeated, I started to cry.
Everyone essentially stood there looking at me for direction on what to do next but my head was spinning.
I figured the best thing would be to obtain a hotel room for the night.
While hubby relocated the tent and our belongings, I proceeded to try to utilize some travel benefits on both my motor club and credit card.
To my dismay, the people on the other end of the phone barely spoke English, were borderline rude and not the least bit interested in doing their job.
I hung up in a huff and spotted a police officer who gave me the name of a local motel he was familiar with and assured me all would be well.
I rounded up the troops and headed to the motel.
I should have known to turn around and run when the first room the owner gave us was a mess from the previous occupants, but instead, I accepted the key for a replacement room only to find that the new room had all the telltale signs of a bed bug infestation.
Still cold, tired and wet, I felt my sanity slipping away.
Fortunately he didn't give me a hard time about getting my money back. Lucky for him.
After a few more unsuccessful attempts to obtain a room, I suggested that we find some place to purchase another tent and some dry sleeping bags so that we could shower, sleep and start over the next day.
We made the five and a half-mile drive to the closest Wal-Mart (during which time hubby and I got into an argument) and looking like a crazed swamp-rat, I trudged my way to the sporting goods section to purchase my salvation for the day and the trip.
I can only imagine what the other customers in the surrounding isles must have thought when they heard the sudden, raucous laughter of an absolute madwoman upon my discovery that there was not one tent left on the shelf. NOT ONE.
Mustering up what little bit of mental capacity I had left, I walked over to the paper goods section, grabbed an industrial-sized pack of paper towels and just prayed that it would do the job so we could get some sleep.
In the dark, we were able to get the tent up and cleaned out and just before midnight (after a much needed hot shower), I was finally able lay my weary body down on my damp air mattress.
As I began to drift off to sleep, my eyes jolted open when I remembered the unheeded warning of an unseen stranger.
Who was this person and why didn't anyone outside of the tent see or hear her?
The truth is, in my heart, I know where the warning came from.
I am just sorry that I didn't listen.