Tag Archives: Tent

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?

Backyard Campout

At school’s end in the 1960s, tents bloomed in backyards like roses. Kathy, Debbie, and I couldn’t wait.

Image by Lucio Alfonsi from Pixabay.

Safety didn’t concern our mothers. Still, yakkety phone calls ensued before we extracted unanimous permission.

We campers stocked up on penny gum and Pixie Stix® at Charlie’s general store. If rich, we bought enough candy bars to ensure membership in the more-cavity group on Crest® Toothpaste commercials.

Lacking sleeping bags, we dragged old blankets and pillows to my saggy tent.

“Don’t knock down the poles,” Kathy warned.

Image by LiveLaughLove from Pixabay.

We ate 17 pieces of bubble gum each and read Bazooka Joe fortunes aloud. Debbie had confiscated her older sister’s teen magazine. Which Beatle was the cutest? This cosmic question kept us arguing and giggling until darkness fell. 

According to reliable sources, Gary and Tim were camping that night in Gary’s backyard. Younger than us, Tim was beneath our notice. Kathy and Debbie considered Gary icky, but no other boys on our block were outside. The so-called lack of prime victims didn’t bother me. I’d never told my friends I liked Gary’s cute smile.

Image by Daniela Mackova from Pixabay.

We sneaked out, careful not to topple poles. Creeping through several other yards, we halted behind lilacs near Gary’s house. We made it!

But we’d forgotten to bring Crazy Foam. Or squirt guns.

“Pound on their tent,” Kathy urged.

Except … no tent.

Gary’s sister had revealed his campout tonight. How dare he mess up our plans?

I didn’t like his dumb smile anymore.

Then wild, still-soprano yells erupted.

Ambushed!

I rocketed through darkness. Where were my girlfriends? The boys — probably well-equipped with Crazy Foam — would attack our tent.

Something sliced my throat!

Mom’s clothesline.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

I stumbled into our tent. In mistaken self-defense, Debbie and Kathy clobbered me. We knocked down poles. Entangled in canvas, we awaited Crazy Foam explosions and buckets of water.

Nothing. No one.

Perhaps the boys feared we would report them to their parents.

Propping up the tent, we tried to regain our bravado. Kathy told about the Man with the Golden Hook. Though I’d heard the tale a million times, scary scratching on our tent kept me edgy all night.

Also, Debbie had eaten beans for supper.

We couldn’t open the window because the Man with the Golden Hook would get us.

My friends nodded off, but my neck hurt. If only I could slip through my house’s unlocked door … But then, I’d have to explain my injury and betray our raid.

Finally, I slept.

Kathy and Debbie left early. Mom, unaware of my wound, insisted I clean up our mess.

I considered swearing off backyard camping forever.

At least, until tomorrow night.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you conduct backyard campout raids?

The Camping Commandments

I, like other clueless new spouses, signed my marriage license without reading the fine print. Later, I discovered I had promised to camp with my husband — for better, for worse — until lightning melted our tent poles or ravenous raccoons starved us out.

After decades of marriage, I now welcome campout vacations.

Or perhaps I’ve numbed to the point I think I like them.

Either way, I’ve learned the Camping Commandments:

  • If thou ownest an RV resembling a Trump hotel, wave pleasantly to those abiding in a bathroom-cabinet-sized tent. Similarly, tent dwellers should show friendliness to those in luxurious quarters. After all, we share the same pioneering blood — a fact well known to mosquitoes.   
  • Thou shalt not concoct gourmet meals whose tantalizing fragrances make thy neighboring cook’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches appear inferior.
  • Designer clothes on a campout shall be considered illegal.
  • In the community restroom, thou shalt not hog the one working sink for three hours, perfecting thy mascara.
  • Always swat a bug that lands on a fellow camper — after introducing yourself first.
  • If thou art a Boy Scout who attained the Pyro Overachiever Badge, bless others with thy superior craft. However, if an ignorant fellow camper adds an uninvited log onto thy perfect blaze, do not toss him in after it.
  • If sharing a group meal around the campfire, thou shalt not bring up scary research facts about hot dogs.
  • Neither shalt thou yank blazing marshmallows out of the fire, lighting fellow roasters like birthday candles.
  • Thou shalt not spin in 60-mph circles on a tire swing after eating four triple-marshmallow s’mores. (My grandson can attest to this one.)
  • If rain ensues, and thou ownest the sole camper in thy group, thou shalt welcome all 47 muddy, smelly tent-dwellers — for a price.
  • When changing at night in a tent, stuff thy flashlight into thy shoe for lower illumination. Otherwise, thy silhouette will gather unwanted fans or frighten thy neighbors into hysterics.
  • Even a grandma cannot be expected to welcome a wildflower bouquet featuring poison ivy.
  • Finally, departing campers should always share excess firewood with neighbors. If their loud music kept thy family awake at 3 a.m., thou mayest bore holes in the logs and insert firecrackers first.

“Wait,” you say. “You’ve cited more than ten commandments. Do campers really need that many?”

“Absolutely. We campers are wild by nature. Actually, there are many more commandments than these.”

“More?”

“Go back and read the fine print.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Camping Commandments would you include?