A while back, I ordered a backpacking tent, but since my first camping trip will be more of a car camping expedition, I searched for a second tent. It didn’t need to be big, but I wanted more than just a waterproof coffin to sleep in. I liked the idea of being able to stand up and maybe move around a bit, and I didn’t want to have to scramble out of a miniscule door when I was half-asleep to answer nature’s call. (To be honest, I wanted room so I could set up a camp potty so I wouldn’t have to go scrambling outside in the middle of the night.)
I found what I thought was a tent taller than it was wide (which is how the picture looked) but it turns out the tent is hexagonal and the angle of the photo was deceptive. It turns out the tent was about 10 feet wide and six and a half feet tall.
Still, despite incredulous questions as to why I would want such a large tent (this from people who own humongous RVs), I ordered the tent. Because it was a discontinued model, it was cheap, so if it doesn’t work out, I don’t lose much. In fact, all I have to do is sleep in the tent three or four nights instead of at a motel those nights, and the thing will have paid for itself.
I was worried about setting up the tent — most 6-person tents have more than one person to help with set up, and all I have is me — but the tent it
self was easy. The rainfly was a different matter. I think anyone would have had a problem getting that rainfly up and over the top of the six-and-a-half-foot-tall tent without it sliding off, so I don’t feel bad that my first two attempts didn’t work out. It will be easier in the future because now I know how to toss it over the top of the tent, what the fly actually looks like, and what side faces out.
I’d be sitting in the tent enjoying my accomplishmet if it weren’t so hot in there at the moment. (Almost 100 degrees outside and not a hint of a breeze. Eek.) One good thing about the height of the tent
— if it’s too hot to sit inside, I can always enjoy the shade it provides. (I’m wondering if I slip a space blanket between the rainfly and the tent if it will deflect some of the sun’s heat. Or not use the rainfly, but attach a tarp on the sun side for clear days.) But the tent is mostly for nights. And mostly to keep me from thinking about bugs and small animals pestering me — and festering me — while I sleep.
The tent will fun for a while at least, like the playhouse I never had, and it will give me an idea of what — if anything — I can handle when it comes to intermittent nomadic living. (As much as I can plan anything, at the moment, I am planning a couple of months on the road, then coming back here for a couple of months if I can find a place to live, and then . . . who knows.)
I’ll air the tent out for a bit, then fold it up and pack it away. I have a hunch putting it away is the real challenge! (If the tent looks amateurish, all loose and wobbly, it’s because I didn’t staked it out. It’s hard to pound a stake into concrete.)
It might not seem like much of a step toward adventure, but by such small steps, a new adventure begins.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)