Saturday, November 21, 2009


It was the best of nights. It was the worst of nights. It was the Fall of rain, and rain was falling.

There was a chill in the air but not enough to deter the mosquitoes who, judging from their size, had been feasting on pizza and beer.

Snugly wrapped in my Victoria's Secret Hot Devil outerwear I observed that nothing beats Fall camping.

From across the fire I heard, "I'm cold and I'm wet and I'm going to my tent. Whose idea was this anyway?" There was some shuffling and muttering that faded into the distance.

Snugly wrapped in my Victoria's Secret Hot Devil outerwear and silence I observed that nothing beats Fall camping.

The fire crackled and hissed as the drizzle met its doom but soon the drizzle turned into serious rain and I decided to turn in, too.

My tent, my domain. It needed fixing up because I just tossed my stuff in after I set it up. First, I inflated my Thermarest sleeping pad to the full Blue Whale setting for maximum comfort, redistributed the down in my personal sleeping enclosure ("sleeping bag" is so 60's) and checked the surroundings for any vermin who decided to join me for the night.

Safe and sound I snuggled down for a short not-quite-winter's nap. Dark-thirty would come soon enough and as camp cook I'd be expected to have hot coffee ready before dawn. That's a tough assignment because Dawn has coffee ready early!

I slept like a baby. That is, waking up every two hours crying, but otherwise I enjoyed the pitter patter of rain on the tent, the gentle wind and especially being snugly wrapped, etc, etc.

Dawn came all too soon and before I knew it I was standing over a hot stove brewing the first pot of coffee of the day. It was still raining, cold, and everything was wet, but the smell of brewing coffee revived my spirits and I was sure it was going to be a grand day.

Hark! Was that the sound of thunder? Er, no, it was the sound of grumble. Trudging towards me was an obviously unhappy camper.

"Top of the morning! Could I interest you in a cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee? Did I mention that it's free?"


Not the reply I was expecting, usually people ask to have my baby for a cup of hot coffee on a cold wet morning, I just poured out a cup of brew and handed it over.

"How was your night?" I asked, knowing the answer.

Camper looked up and related a tale of woe, call it the Rime of the Ancient Wet Camper. Camper told me that he pitched his tent in a depression that filled up with water. His tent leaked. His sleeping bag got wet and then cold. He forgot his stocking cap so his head was cold, and his socks were wet so his feet were cold. He tried mopping up the water in his tent using a t-shirt but when he opened his tent to wring out the shirt, more rain came in than shirt wrung water went out. There was more woe to tell but I was all woed out and don't remember the details.

He was cold, wet and not a happy camper.

"So," he asked, "how was your night?"

I thought about how I had selected a site for my tent which was on harder, more uneven ground, but higher than the surrounding pasture. I thought about how I had planned for the Fall weather and, since it had been raining all day while I was packing, threw in some extra socks and clothes just in case. I thought about how I had re-sealed the seams of my tent so they wouldn't leak and how I had brought an extra ground tarp because I knew the ground would be wet when I pitched my tent.

I thought about my sleeping pad inflated to Blue Whale comfort and that I had brought an Indian blanket which made it Sleeps-Like-Blue-Whale.

I thought about how I was woken up hours before dawn by a sudden intensity of rain, but in my Blue Whale warmness quickly drifted back to the Land o' Squid and deep six sleep.

I thought that because I was prepared for the weather I had a great night, enjoyed it immensely and would look back on this weekend as a great camping experience.

Yep, one of the best nights ever.

"Well," he persisted, "how was your night?"

Not wanting to ruin his coffee I replied,

"Much the same, my friend, much the same."


Helena said...

Victoria's Secret Hot Devil outerwear + my mug of hot chocolate = you owe me a new keyboard. Again.

Jodie said...

Love it! I'll leave the late Fall tent camping to you... the intrepid Boy Scout par excellence. I'm not a good tent camper. Prefer a shelter with electricity for a few comforts of home like my CPAP machine to have a good nights rest. Otherwise my fellow campers would think MOOSE had invaded Texas. I had a saga once like your friend.... camping near Houston to attend the Texas Ren. Festival. There was a FLOOD and our tent had 4 inches of water in it about 3am when we bailed out and went to the car. I-45 was so flooded that we couldn't get back to Dallas that way. So we detoured through Austin to Dallas. Yuck! My last time camping in a tent... 1998!