#314: THE CHARLIE BROWN CAMPERS
The Fiery One pointed out to me that I completely missed telling you in my last post how ridiculous it seems to be that we tried to be campers on the weekend. We have only been camping in a tent together twice before this. Neither time found us terribly prepared, but both times we were at least able to erect a tent in which to sleep. This particular camping trip last weekend found us unable to use our tent, less than ecstatic about our food as we were without a cooler, and making our sad attempt at camping right next door to the most prepared campers in the whole place.
When we arrived on Carkus' parents' property, I was looking forward to setting up our campsite, because I am really good at the technical stuff. I like making everything fit together. So, when I pulled the tent from its sleeve and shook it out flat, I sensed that something was amiss. It all seemed too simple, too lightweight, too... too much like the tent pegs and poles weren't packed with the tent! We stood around for a couple of minutes with our hands on our hips cursing Skatchina, the very dear person who so kindly loaned us her tent on short notice without pegs.
While we surveyed the flatness of our tent, we looked to our left at the couple who was setting up camp next door. One of them was a MacGyver of sorts and was busy setting up a five-person tent, a huge canopy to the side, chairs, and an outdoor light while his partner moved in three coolers and various other kinds of luggage. My eyes travelled back to our campsite. We had two smallish bags and a poleless, pegless tent. I felt like Charlie Brown.
But remember! I am good with the technical! The tent we borrowed was the kind with two flexible poles that bend diagonally across the top of the tent, crossing each other to make a dome. Without poles, there could be no dome, but we were sure that tent would go up some way some how. A fellow camper loaned us four extra tent pegs, someone else loaned us some string, and within a few minutes I tied the loop at the top of the tent to a tree branch and we pegged the tent to the ground. We still had a major problem, though, because it was going to rain that night, and there was no way that the tarp that came with the tent was going to fit over the tree branch as well as the tent for which it was intended. Despite this obstacle, we managed to pull the small tarp up over the most exposed side and secured it to the tree. The thing looked limp in a flaccid kind of way, but at least we had some hope of private shelter that night.
Within a few hours, though, it became apparent that our tent was not holding up all that well. After raining for about an hour, the Fiery One went to check on it to see how it was doing, and it was much worse off. The sides of the tent had collapsed inward, weighed down by pooling water, and the inside of the tent was not any better. The totally prepared couple, the MacGyvers, offered to let us sleep in their tent with them, which we agreed to, of course, because they had a fully constructed tent that you could almost stand up in with a light inside.
Oh yes, and did I mention yet that the Fiery One and I did not have a flashlight, mosquito lotion that we would use (it was some sort of natural kind that wreaked of citronella and not in a good way), and no sun block at all? It's true. We also didn't have anything more substantial than a blanket to shield our backsides from the cold, hard ground. Or pillows. And we didn't have any rope to tie up our makeshift bedroll, so I used an extension cord to keep it all together.
I'm starting to think that the Fiery One and I would succumb to the elements if not for the certain amount of survival insurance we have as herd animals. You know, the kind of herd animals that build apartment buildings and have bus routes and taxis and grocery stores and mosquito repellent.
But, come to think of it, we were quite comfortable sleeping on the ground without proper sleeping bags, and we're not pansies about bugs, and we really kept our chins up about our sad, Charlie Brown tent. Of course, we spent a goodly portion of our time traipsing around the countryside on mushrooms marvelling at the course of the moon and the fascinating zipping of the lightning bugs, so we were in no mood to complain.
Honestly, though, I do know how to camp. I know which trees have the powder that acts as both sunscreen and bug repellent, how to tell direction in a dense forest, how to avoid bears as best as possible, and how to use moss as a makeshift bandage or maxipad in a tight spot. I am sure that the Fiery One has his wilderness skills as well. This particular trip was truly about hanging out at a farm in relative civilization and celebrating the solstice, so I'm willing to cut us (and Skatchina) some slack on the preparation front.