Thursday, April 25, 2013

Camping in the Back Yard

Okay, here's the thing.  I am retired (even more so now but that is grist for another post).  I am planning trips galore: Mexico, Olympic National park, California, Florida and even a few more.  My wife and I will stay in hotels, on trains, in hostels, so it wasn't a great leap to consider camping.

Now, I have no shortage of tents, from a one-man coffin tent, to two and three-man domes to a big old cabin tent that supposedly sleeps four.  It also needs to be said that my wife was less than enthusiastic when I broached the subject of camping in say, Yellowstone or Zion.

Sooooooo, I suggested that I could make our cabin tent extremely homey, perhaps with the addition of an air mattress that I would gladly fill up every time we went camping (I being the rough and tumble outdoors-man would not need such frilly additions).

Which brings me to last Monday.

With an energy bordering on mania, I purchased a cool air mattress and pump (not an electric one but a hand pump.  I figured, "I can use this baby no matter where I am, even if I can't get to a electric outlet").  Then I went down into my basement and brought out to my back yard the impressive, the gigantic, the hopefully homey CABIN TENT.  I approached the setting up of this monstrosity with a zen-like calm and with just one more trip to a hardware store (I needed some more guy-rope to secure the corners) I set about my task.  I don't want to brag, but I believe I did splendidly. Not only did I calmly figure out the slip knots needed to snugly tie down the upright and corner poles, but when I ran into challenges (one of the cross-beam poles in the roof refused to allow itself to be elongated easily), I didn't rant and curse (I am after all, a spiritually advanced individual), I doped out solutions.  Inside of an hour, I had the beautiful structure standing.

Next came the air mattress.  It was here I had my first inklings of doubt.  After two hundred pumps, my wonderfully thick air mattress (it promised to be a full 18 inches in depth) still wasn't fully inflated.  Maybe the electric pump would have been a good idea.  So, it goes. Eventually, I got the darn thing up to its potential.

For those of you who actually live in Colorado, you might at this juncture be thinking. "Hey wait a minute.  Didn't some bad weather, snow and high winds, come in last Monday?"  If this was your thinking, you were absolutely correct.  Before I finished inflating the magnificent air mattress, the wind had kicked up to about 40 mph.  However, I was undaunted.  After all, I had tied down the tent quite expertly.

By the time evening rolled around, it had snowed about 4 inches.  But my enthusiasm would not be dampened.  My wife looked at me like I was out of my mind.  "Do you really mean to do this."  I put on my best outdoors-man face.  "Of course."

When I couldn't delay any longer I headed out to the tent.  I had camped a few summers ago in Leadville, Colorado, which even in the summer, gets very cold at night, so I know that a closed up mummy sleeping bag was just too darn hot, so I had chosen to open my sleeping bag as a thick blanket and take my repose in this manner.  Let me, at this juncture, say that I was very comfortable on my inflated mattress and at first even acceptably warm.  However, things change.  Two o'clock in the morning I woke feeling somewhat chilly.  It wasn't like I was going to die or anything, but there was no getting over the fact that I was cold.

No problem.  I'll just zip up the blanket into a nice warm downy sleeping bag.  In the light of a flashlight, I realized the terrible truth.  Because I wanted to use a blanket and not a sleeping bag, I had chosen the one sleeping bag that had a broken zipper.  Still, I wasn't ready to give up. Surely, I could position myself beneath this excellent blanket and find the requisite warmth needed to fall back into the arms of Orpheus.

An hour later, I gave up.  Chilled to the bone, I made my way back into my house and my ordinary, dull, but warm bed.  My wife might possible be one of the nicest folks on the planet Earth. She never said one reproachful word, but merely hugged me until I stopped shivering.

The next morning I informed her that I was not ready to completely throw in the towel.  With a new sleeping bag, I would brave the snow and wind (which pummeled my poor tent the next day at 60 mph) the following night.

This next adventure will be the subject of my next post.  I will say this.  Things went from bad to worse.  

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