M. Giant's
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008  

Low Camp

About a week and a half ago -- that's Friday the Fifth, to be exact -- Trash and M. Edium and I were supposed to go on our second and final camping trip of the summer. But we chickened out as a result of reports of cold, rainy weather in the area we were planning to go.

But I didn't want to give up just yet. So I pitched the tent in our back yard on Saturday morning, expecting that we could spend that night camping on our own property. Less packing that way anyway. I had failed -- or, more accurately, refused -- to take into account the possibility that the cold, rainy weather might reach us as well, being only two hours away from where we'd planned to go. We went out to spend the night in the tent on Saturday, and then came back inside for the night just an hour later because it had gotten a) cold and b) rainy.

Sunday wasn't going to work because it was a school night. Maybe I could have talked Trash into letting just us guys spend the night out there, but on nights when I'm weecapping Big Brother she has to put him to bed (as opposed to other nights, when she puts him to bed because they both want her to), and I thought that making her do it in a tent would be a bit much to ask. Especially since she would have had to wait out there with him until I got my weecap written and e--mailed off. Alas, we bought our tent years ago, before they came with Internet connections.

Monday was cold. Mid-October cold. We do have some sleeping bags that are rated to, like, 20 degrees, but they're so thick that by the time you're done wrestling with them you're too hot to get inside no matter how cold it is.

Tuesday it was still cold, and it rained, and I had Big Brother again anyway. The trifecta.

Wednesday might have worked, even if Trash still insisted on sleeping in the house without us because she had to work the next day. But after we got home from my father-in-law's retirement party it was already kind of late, and an over-tired M. Edium refused to go to bed inside or out without a stuffed alligator recently brought home from Florida by his cousin Deniece. He has named the alligator "Petrie," after the young pterodactyl in the Land Before Time films (did you realize how many of those movies there are now? They don't even number them any more, but I'm pretty sure they're in double digits. Apparently it was the land before restraint and artistic integrity as well). His pre-bedtime meltdown made camping outside a non-starter, and we never did find Petrie that night. Fortunately, even though he could refuse to sleep without it, he couldn't refuse to pass out from sheer exhaustion just shortly after his usual bedtime.

Thursday during the day I decided to go out during the day and roll up the bedding. There was a little water on the floor of the tent, because we'd left one inner window unzipped and also because one of the outer flies doesn't zip at all. I dried the puddles on the tent's tarp floor, threw the sleeping bags in the dryer (even though they don't require an industrial dryer like those space-sacks do, I still did them one at a time), and left the water-spotted air mattresses to deflate and dry on the floor of the tent. That evening it rained harder than ever before, which at least had the benefit of washing off the bird crap that had accumulated on the rain fly. Still, that -- plus the fact that I had two hours of TV to watch and write about that night -- meant another night sleeping in the house. But at least when I'd gone out to get the bedding, I found Petrie.

Friday was a lovely, sunny day. I rolled up the now-dry air mattresses and stowed them in their carry bag, which I had neglected to dry. Fortunately that was something I could simply hang from the clothesline pole, even with the air mattresses inside. I fully intended to strike the tent that day, since it had thoroughly dried by now, but Trash thought it would be fun for M. Edium and his scheduled Friday play date to run in and out of the tent that afternoon. This they did for about five minutes, just long enough to track in enough dirt to necessitate sweeping. It would have been a perfectly nice night to camp out, but Chao and Gerd came over for pizza that evening, and even I didn't want to suggest entertaining them in the tent after M. Edium's bedtime.

Saturday, even more kids came over, and they played in and out of the tent with Trash's sister until the rain started again. In the evening we went to the wedding of our next-door neighbor's daughter (who was eight years old when we moved in here, Jesus), so between that and the rain and the incipient cold that M. Edium seemed to be developing, camping was again out. Another trifecta. I did hope that the neighbors hadn't brought too many guests back from the reception to see that they apparently lived next to the Joads.

Sunday: more rain, plus M. Edium's cold kept him inside all day, plus more Big Brother. The third trifecta of the week. I think that's called a cubed-fecta.

Yesterday (Monday) was the first time in days the tent was even remotely dry, so I took advantage of what I knew might be a small window of time to sweep the tent out and take it down. This took longer than I thought, as the floor was wet again and the birds had returned to their work on the rain fly, which I would have to throw in the washer. Eventually I was reduced to spreading the flaccid tent on the driveway and wiping the water off with a bath towel section by section while I folded and rolled it from something that occupies 800 cubic feet to something that occupies two. M. Edium's reaction? "Noooooo!"

Oh, and I also took down the bedding bag that I had hung up to dry, three days of rain before.

Today I took the rain fly out of the dryer, folded it, and crammed it into the sack that fits over the rest of the folded tent like a Trojan Magnum on a whale. I also took a moment to admire the thick "L" of yellow grass that marks where the tent used to be, and which will probably serve as a guide for where I should put it next year.

So that's twelve days of "use" we got out of the tent this month. Not quite the combined total of days that we've had it up since M. Edium was born, but there's always next September.

posted by M. Giant 2:52 PM 0 comments


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