Die of asphyxiation or eaten alive by mosquitoes: our night from hell

We’d been on the road for 11 hours. During this time we’d driven through four USA states – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.

We were knackered.

Road trip view Double-Barrelled Travel

We had beautiful scenes like this while we were on the road, but that didn’t make the drive any less tiring

We’d planned to get away early from Amherst, New Hampshire, where we’d been house sitting for the past two weeks, and tackle the first half of our 18 hour drive to Traverse City in northern Michigan.

This plan went to pot when we noticed our car was leaking coolant and we had to make a two hour and $50 detour to the mechanics to get it fixed.

Yet another doctor’s appointment for our car, poor old Hannah. She’s been to the mechanics three times in the short time we’ve owned her. And we’ve spent an extra $1,800 on her.


Swamp campground in Waterford Double-Barrelled Travel

We were feeling hot and sweaty by the time we saw this view – a campsite at last

With all this wasted cash, we’re loathed to get the air conditioning fixed on her too, yet after driving for 11 hours in 32 degree I was beginning to feel like a Finnish woman in a sauna.

I was so sweaty that if I hung my head out of the window like a dog, the sweat on my face hitting the wind had a cooling effect.

So we were driving around with me panting out of the window most of the time.

Swamp campground in Waterford Double-Barrelled Travel3

Our final resting place for the night. Don’t let it full you, it was the location of a horror film

Our GPS navigated us to our campsite only to find that it was actually someone’s house.

There wasn’t a tent in sight.

I was never very good at reading GPS co-ordinates and I’m sure this lack of skill was why we were stuck at 9pm on a Tuesday evening in a small country town with no place to set up camp.

Thankfully, our GPS can also tell us where the nearest campsite is.

I keyed the alternative in and we drove 10 minutes further away from the highway to discover that the reception closed at 7pm.

Swamp campground in Waterford Double-Barrelled Travel2

It looks peaceful, but this lake was crawling with mosquitoes

I’ve written before about being spontaneous on your travels and how much fun it can be, but trying to find a campsite on a whim was proving to be more difficult than finding a virgin in a whorehouse.

We decided to drive another 10 minutes to the next campsite, and resolved to come back, use the showers and set up camp for free if we didn’t have any luck.

The next location was adjacent to the little town of Waterford. It was a quaint part of the USA, with cute country houses and a village green complete with white picketed bandstand.

Framing the campsite to the north was a lake and to the south, a swamp.

The owner walked towards us as we drove in. He had such a bad t-shirt tan that from a distance I thought he was wearing a white singlet.

His wife was plump and friendly, giving me a booklet on Waterford and telling us that it was a shame we weren’t staying for the weekend, as it was the town’s bicentennial anniversary.

We paid our $25 for the site for the night, bid our thanks and went to set up camp.

As we did so, mosquitoes swarmed down on us and we quickly doused ourselves in insect spray.


Dave mosquito bite Double-Barrelled Travel

One of Dave’s many awful mosquito bites that cover his body

The only place I didn’t spray was my face and sure enough, a mosquito bit me in the middle of my forehead.


So as you can imagine, I was looking pretty sexy by this point. I was sweatier than a wrestler after a two hour match and I had a massive red lump in the middle of my face.

Angelina Jolie eat your heart out.

Once we’d set up our little bed in the back of the minivan, we went for a shower. Fat lot of good that did.

As soon as we’d dried, we were sweating again and by the time we got into the enclosed van we were roasting.

Damn London and its cold. We’d become so unaccustomed to this heat.

So much for the serenity of sleeping next to the lake – all we could hear inside the van was a swarm of mosquitoes buzzing around our heads.

And so the epic battle began.

Dave and I spent the best part of the next hour smashing the mosquitoes’ little blood-thirsty bodies against the roof of the car, screaming ‘GOT ONE!’ in delight with each smack.

The poor man in the caravan next to us must’ve wondered what the hell we were doing.

Finally, once the buzzing had ceased and the roof of our minivan was polka dotted with black mosquito corpses, we settled down to sleep.

Cherry Inn and Suites Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

Our accommodation at the Cherry Inn and Suites in Traverse City the day after our night from hell. A welcome relief after sleeping in the back of a mosquito infested van

But we quickly realised that sleep wasn’t going to come because we were slowly suffocating without any ventilation. Or it would come, but it’d be a slumber that we wouldn’t wake from.

Normally we sleep with the windows ajar to let the breeze flutter in, both cooling us down and allowing us to breathe.

But with the killer mosquitoes lurking outside, we didn’t feel inclined to open them. Although eventually, faced with a choice between death by asphyxiation or being eaten alive by mosquitoes, we chose the latter.

It took us hours to drift to sleep.

I’m not sure about Dave, but every time I was about to tumble into dreamland, a buzzing would sound next to my ear and wake me once more.

It was far from the best night’s sleep we’ve had.

Thankfully, we are now in Traverse City, Michigan, where we are spending seven nights in luxury accommodation courtesy of the tourism board there.

As they say – no pain, no gain!

And I have the red itchy welts all over my body to prove it.


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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

1 comment on “Die of asphyxiation or eaten alive by mosquitoes: our night from hell”

  1. Pingback: 4 tips for camping in the USA - Double-Barrelled Travel

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