Contemplating Spring

Camping in the Rain! Yes!

Over the years, we have backpacked, car-camped in vans, car-camped with tents – we have a lot of experience. But we met our match this week with a new tent that is designed to snuggle up to an SUV. A year ago, we had a small camper van that worked fine for me, but it just couldn’t handle the backroads that my husband loves to travel. He will follow a gravel road with huge potholes and muddy ruts to the end of the earth. Evan better if there is snow ahead. So we traded this year for a Subaru designed with him in mind. 

But it’s hard to carry much gear and still sleep in the car, so we bought this special tent that is supposed to fit around the rear end of an SUV. And maybe it would have, but we absolutely could not fit the center pole into its little pockets no matter what we tried. And without the center pole, the two sides of the tent would not stand up. So we never really got to the part about snugging it up around the rear of our vehicle. 

After about two hours of NOT YELLING! at each other, the smarter one of us said, calmly, “I’d like to toss this tent into the back of the car and go sleep in our own beds tonight.” “Brilliant,” said I, and home we went. We have another tent, a small two-person tent (having given away a perfectly good 4-person tent when we bought the van that we have now traded for the Subaru), so the next morning we headed out with the little tent. We set it up in a flash, then set off to visit friends for the afternoon. It rained while we were visiting, but when we got back to our tent, we did our nightly rituals and crawled in while the rain took a break.

We had purchased new sleeping mats with the SUV tent, and they were great. I kept my socks on, used a sleeping bag liner, and was warm and comfy. Unlike many nights camping out, I actually slept some – when I wasn’t listening to some serious rain hitting our rain fly. All seemed well, until we woke up in the morning and discovered that while the rain fly did its job, the sides and floor of our tent seemed to have no resistance at all to the rain. Mats wet. Sleeping bags wet. Ugh. Never mind. We smiled at each other and said, “I’m having fun!”  And we were. 

So now, if we can ever get the SUV tent back into the bag it came in, we will return it and think about our options. I actually found the receipt for it today! How often does that happen when a purchase doesn’t work out. Check back for camping updates later this spring.

Green!

One benefit of giving up on our tent and returning home is that we got to view spring unfolding twice along our drive. The shades of green as shrubs and trees work their springtime magic are glorious. Absolutely not monochromatic. I’m grateful that I can see colors. 

When we lived in Skagit County, my weekly travels along Highway 20 gave me the opportunity to see native plants come alive in their orderly sequence each year, Indian plum, red flowering current, red elderberry, salmonberry, dogwood. Many of them were visible on this trip to Island County, while the early greens of the emerging shrub and tree leaves provided the background. 

Our view from our apartment is of buildings, so a periodic drive through the countryside is essential for my mental health. I need to “touch grass” as the saying goes today. 

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