Camping at Keen Lake in Waymart, Pennsylvania

Spending five days outdoors, sleeping “on the ground”, and dealing with nature may not appeal to some – but I thoroughly enjoy it. Sure, some of the amenities of home invariably end up coming with us, but I still consider it roughing it compared to my daily lifestyle.

Yearly camping trips seem to be the norm for me since I was a teenager. Once married, the trend has continued, though Eliza was not always able to go. This time I was very happy she was able to go, even though the mosquitoes seemed to pay her much more attention than most of us.

This year, we had the opportunity to camp somewhere close to home. With gas prices the way they are, this just seemed like a good idea. We chose to camp at Keen Lake campground in Waymart, Pennsylvania – which is about a 25-minute drive from our apartment to our campsite. The fact that it was only a 25-minute drive ended up coming in handy.

The entire camping group

Left to right starting in back: Chris, Bryan

Second row: Colin, Eliza, Trudy, Josh, Niki

Front row: Giana, Ivan, Ava, Andrea

On our first night at Keen Lake, there was a horrible thunderstorm that hit at around 3am. It was over by about 5am, but most of us were up at that point. What made this thunderstorm so bad, was not necessarily the few inches of rain that ended up failing in such a short period of time – but rather the lightning and thunder.

This storm was literally over our heads. Frighteningly close. One particular bolt of lightning struck the island in the middle of the lake we were sleeping next to. If I had to guess, I’d guess that the island was about 1,500 feet from our very own feet. Those 1,500 feet (or ~ 1/3 of a mile), were all water mind you. When this bolt hit, it made a sound like no other I’ve ever heard. It literally compressed my chest and made me entire body come off of our air mattress. Others said that they felt the same pressure when it hit.

The next day, while kayaking I was talking to Mike Kopa (ex-coworker of mine circa 1999-2001 and now employee of Keen Lake campground) and he told me what happened when that bolt hit the island. On said island is a cabin available for rent. A family of 5 (I think), and their dog were staying in the cabin when the bolt struck. The bolt hit the TV antenna for the cabin, followed it down through the TV (blew the TV right out) and spread through the cabin via the electrical system. Where cords led to lamps, the rug burned. Various appliances were laid useless. And most tragic of all, the family dog was sleeping on one of the extension cords and lost its life due to electric shock.

An incredible story to be sure. But it does show you the sheer force of nature is something that, while attempted by many smart individuals, can never be stopped. I remember talking with an electrician that used to work for a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. He called lightning “magic”, as all their attempts to stop it were useless. He said “…if hit directly with lightning, there is almost nothing you can do to stop it. We have circuit breakers in the hospital that are so big that you wouldn’t be able to touch both sides – lightning jumps across them as if they didn’t even exist.”.

The rest of the weekends weather was very nice, and we did our best to take advantage of it. We went kayaking, played frisbee and bocce, and swam at every opportunity. You can see photos from our trip in this photo set on Flickr.

Can’t wait to go camping again, though I’d rather not wait an entire year to do so.

[tags]camping, keen lake, lightning, thunder, storm, camp, campsite, campground, pennsylvania, waymart, colindevroe[/tags]