Tag Archives: Sleeping bags

How to Bail Out a Tent

Though Hubby and I now own a pop-up camper, we remained tent campers for two decades. As still-married experts, we offer advice to those planning to bail out tents.

A truly memorable experience depends on preparation.

  • Get away from it all, a hundred miles from the nearest laundromat. Confirm beforehand that hand dryers in the campground’s restrooms haven’t worked since 1979.
  • Pack anything that holds more than one teaspoon under your spare tire. Then forget where you packed your bailing aids.
  • Do not pack clothing and towels in waterproof garbage bags. Plan to stack them in your tent so during a deluge, every fiber will absorb its proper quota of water. Your clothes may sprout toadstools. Your towels will weigh more than chunks of firewood. But you won’t drown. You want to survive to do this again, don’t you?

Tips, once you’ve arrived at your site:

  • Place air mattresses under sleeping bags. These will promote comfort and dryness — unless the youth group that borrowed them wore cleats.
  • Store all food in your tent so 37 hungry raccoons will assist in your bailing experience.
  • Given that all bailing vessels are buried under your spare tire, a husband’s tennis shoes work well, especially if you’re mad because he talked you into tent camping.
  • If a nagging wife’s sleeping bag has remained dry while yours is drenched, use hers to sop up the flood.
  • A more relaxed approach: If spouses awaken to find air mattresses afloat, she can remind him he always wanted to go white water rafting. He can remind her she always wanted a pool. Add sunglasses and drinks with little paper umbrellas, then enjoy a facsimile of the vacation you really wanted.

The above assumes no children accompanied you. If they have, thunder will send them diving, slimy and screaming, into your sleeping bag. Remember, you and your spouse must set a positive example for future years, should they marry people with tents.

  • Instigate a family sing-along while you bail. “The Ants Go Marching” lends a steady rhythm to keep everyone working in the fun tradition of galley slaves. Avoid “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing.” Despite the song’s superior spiritual content, neighbors — also bailing — may not appreciate its profundity.
  • Start a water fight. You can’t get much wetter, right? (So what, if it’s 4:30 a.m.)
  • If water rises past kids’ knees, give them impromptu swimming lessons.
  • If water rises to your youngest child’s neck, enjoy sleeping in the car. Family togetherness — that’s why you planned this, right? Because you’ve always dreamed of sleeping, entwined with two kids, under a steering wheel …

And achieving that special marital chemistry that comes only with bailing out a tent.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What tent camping tips can you offer?

Mad About Camping

You initiated an end-of-the-season campout,” my husband insisted. “To celebrate your completing a novel.”

Crazy. I would never—

Wait. After months in the writers’ cave, I do recall blurting something about an October campout.

Exactly what a weary writer needed — extra laundry. Debates whether to pack heavy coats or light. How could I jam this carrot bag into the cooler? (Though the cheesecake fit fine.)

All for a campout in October, when Mother Nature frequently forgets to take her Prozac.

What word-fogged madness had seized me?

Hubby should have conducted an intervention: “Let’s go to a ritzy hotel where they golf cart you to the hot tub.”

Instead, he gleefully hooked up the camper and condemned me to a weekend in the wilds.

The campground teemed with campers struck with similar insanity, determined to experience one final outdoor inconvenience. Perhaps they’d all written books, too, and succumbed to brain disappearance?

Adults, as well as kids, competed in a never-ending, kamikaze bike race around the campground. For pedestrians on hasty nighttime hikes to restrooms, a headless horseman could strike no terror so profound as that caused by breakneck night riders with glow-in-the-dark decals.

Better to stay by the campfire, especially as temperatures dipped to 39 degrees.

Fall camping does have positives. With no devices or cell phone service, we retired early. Once my foggy mind realized a nighttime noise wasn’t a hair dryer left on, but the camper’s heater, we spent snuggly nights in sleeping bags.

Mornings, we consumed yummy breakfasts with enough cholesterol to supply the state.

No global warming occurred, so we couldn’t swim or kayak. We left bike rides to the kamikaze crazies. But we could hike.

We strolled through gorgeous woods, stopping to admire lakes, trees, and tough little flowers that braved autumn’s temperatures. Unable to translate bird language, we assumed a fervent chorus of welcome. Along with soaring hawks and eagles, even buzzards appeared graceful. We encountered a beaver lodge and a gobbling flock of wild turkeys.

Why, on these jaunts, do we persist in seeking deer? I’ve seen them in neighbors’ yards. Deer devour my tulips and tomatoes, yet we found this park quest entertaining — also part of the insanity.

If hikes cause rubber legs and aching feet, they also inspire the best naps ever taken by humankind.

We found ourselves lingering that last, lovely afternoon, breaking down camp at the last minute.

Arriving at home, we hauled in suitcases. Bags of smoky, dirty clothes. The cooler, with its highly questionable contents.

We recovered our Internet. Tons of emails awaited us. Tons of work.

What madness possessed us to come home?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like fall campouts?