Advice for Camping: Test Everything.

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I love my Queen. Potrero War, California. May 2017.

So as I have mentioned before, I went camping this weekend and, while it was a lot of fun, so much went wrong in a fabulously, messy way. I’ve written a lot about how important it is to go over all your details before you set out on a trip just to avoid any unpleasantness down the road.

Well, easier said than done, apparently.

This was our first time using a period tent since a friend of our just bought an extra one off of another friend. We weren’t sure if we were going to use it as a sleeping tent or as a cooking tent but this time around the former was planned.

Packing was so easy. Without a tent, I could change things up. We used wardrobe bags (like the kind you might store your winter clothes in when they aren’t in use) instead of suitcases which laid out nicely in the bed of the truck and, since we are now using Coleman cots instead of smaller ground mats, we still had plenty of weight to hold down the driving tarp.

Well, when things settled and our tent arrived (about two hours after we did), we went around making camp. Between five of us, we had three tents of different designs and a Dragon Wing to set up. We had everything set up except our tent  before starting in, and that is where things went to hell.

The body of the tent itself is a single unit: a canvas roof and sides sewn together opening at each corner with pole holes at the top. Then there are poles; 6 sides and a double, stacked center pole twice as thick as the others. The poles are on a system that are held vertical by pulled ropes and steaks.

This is where two errors in planning popped up. First, as we uncoiled ropes we discovered two were frayed to the point where they no longer helped hold the tent upright. This was quickly remedied by borrowed rope but unveiled the larger issue: our number two, tent was hanging about a foot of the ground. That’s right, our poles were about a foot too long.

I ended up digging pole holes which cut down our gap, but after a short frustration meltdown, I said F-it and finished setting things up (this is also were I started digging holes). Luckily, our cots (once the holes were dug) were a few inches above the bottom of the fabric.  All in all it wasn’t too bad.

Cut to late that night, when getting into bed, I heard a small rip. It was dark and I wasn’t too concerned, so I went straight to sleep. In the morning when I work up, I noticed issue number three: my Coleman air mattress that goes with my cot was eating me, ie it was deflating and quick. My sister is quite a bit heavier than I am and her mattress was still exceedingly full so I knew it was an issue with my bed, not just basic air mattress things.

Then I got out of bed and looked down; issue number four: I was covered in feathers. I didn’t investigate further. I just saw the feathers, said nope, and went about my morning. Then I told my friends and one wanted to come look. On the second inspection, it looked even more like I had slaughtered a chicken in my bed (or at least plucked). Turns out I had ripped a hole in my down-comforter along two seams and that one square was linked to two others. Once again, I put the bed back and lived with it through the weekend – though I did run one more square out before the weekend was out.

Some of these we could have planned for – checking on the air mattresses before every trip and setting up new tents before getting to camp even if it is from someone you trust (apparently we did get the wrong poles and at least the cot part was comfortable without the mattress part) – and others we really couldn’t have – how could I have known about the blanket? However, as I have said time and again, you have to choose on trips like these how you are going to react.

We rolled with every punch life handed us and our weekend was so much better for it. We laughed and I am sure we’ll keep laughing through to the next one. Until next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Advice for Camping: Test Everything.