So..after a less than stellar vacation out east, I'm now looking ahead to a much shorter trip--a weekend trip to the Indiana Dunes in August. I'm dragging my children, and some friends of my children to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
In anticipation of that, and in anticipation of needing more than one tent, I dragged out my old two-man Diamond Brand tent that I first purchased in 1984.
In 1984, having just graduated from college, I decided that I was going to 'add to myself' and become an 'outdoors(wo)man'. I shared this with my dad and he took me up to a sporting goods store in Fort Wayne...I don't remember the name of the store, but it's tagline was 'home of the silent sports', which I thought was really cool. We bought a tent, a propane stove, a propane lantern, a sleeping bag, cooking equipment--all the things I would need to become a camper--and most of which I still use today. The salesperson then showed me how, step-by-step, to set up my tent, gave me advice on pitching it, and sealing it against rain, staking it against wind, told me how to lay down the ground cloth, and how to keep warm with a sheet tucked into my sleeping bag. All were valuable lessons that I still practice today.
I, and my good dog Clancy, took a couple of practice camping trips to Turkey Run, and to Indiana Dunes. And then we decided we were ready for our big solo trip--we left Bluffton early one July morning and headed towards Niagara Falls...from there, across New York (stopping at the National Women's Hall of Fame) and to my cousins' house in Danvers, MA. I stayed there awhile, and then headed out to Cape Cod, and then, circumnavigating New York City, I drove to Philly, then Washington DC, then through Virginia, West Virginia, and home--all in that little, easy-up, easy-down two-man tent.
It was the tent John and I used the first time we drove out west and when we camped around Lake Superior. It was the tent we used when we took 'the kids' on the Oregon Trail. And the tent that we camped in the backyard with, and down to Florida with when Charlie was a baby.
But then, he grew, we had Ben, and we outgrew it. It's been in a bag in the garage for at least 15 years now. I got it out today, expecting it to be rotted to the bag, the shock cords to be sprung, the mice to have chewed it up and the spiders to have made permanent webs in it. After all, we've replaced our Coleman/Eureka tents every 3-5 years for the last 15 years for one reason or another. But none of that proved true.
What a great tent! I dumped it out and set it right up, smiling all the while, remembering camping adventures, both solo and as a new family. It was in great shape, the poles all snapped in place, the rain fly stretched out over the top, and the clothesline still strung inside the tent where I put it so I could have a dry towel in the morning. Good and faithful old tent. They don't make 'em like that anymore!!