Loading the Wagon

Spent yesterday busily doing brain-dumps so that work doesn’t grind to a halt while I’m gone. It’s nice to be essential; but it’s also really annoying sometimes.

Spent today busily making preparations for camping. Got a haircut, where I was complemented on my sandals, of all things. They’re Chacos; I never thought I’d say this when I was talked into buying them, but there really is such thing as a pair of sandals worth $80.

After I got home from shopping, I had the kids set up their tents, and take them down again. And then I had them set them up again. Which may seem cruel (they certainly thought so), but now they can set up their own tents, single-handed, in under 15 minutes. Which, when you consider the corollary of Murphy’s Law that most campsite tent assembly will take place after dark and in the rain, is a Good Thing.

An aside, if I may, concerning tents: the “dome” tent design seems to have become the dominant one in recent decades. I’m apparently the only old codger who thinks this is an unfortunate development. As I was reminded today, dome tents can be incredibly difficult for a single person to set up, especially if they have weak arms and are of small stature. The cross beams have to be flexed, at great effort, into tortous angles while aliging them with a tiny peg; and you run the constant risk of snapping a pole if you’re not careful. I’ve had to spend at least one night in a tent with a snapped pole because of this; the person who was setting it up got a handful of fiberglass splinters for his trouble.

Several years ago I was making preparations for a longish campout, and I decided it behooved me to purchase a nice new tent of a kind that suited my means. I therefore made my way to my nearest Hudson Trail, outfitters to the discerning yuppie outdoorsperson, and allowed myself to be talked into a $250+ tent which I was assured was the pinnacle of camping technology. Naturally, it was a variation on the dome design. I brought it home, and proceeded to set it up. Half an hour later I was still working on it. Part of the assembly involved crawling in between the tent and fly while they were still flat on the ground and hooking dozens of little bar-and-loop widgets together by whatever light managed to filter through the nylon.

I promptly returned this modern monstrosity and bought a Eureka Timberline for less than half the price. The Timberline has been the mainstay of Boy Scout troops for lo these many years, and it is one of those examples of engineering perfectiont that is only achieved through decades of tweaking, until all the annoyances have been worked out. It is simple. It is boring. It has aluminum poles, which will never snap. With some practice, it can be set up by one person, in the dark, in five minutes. It provides perfectly acceptable protection from the elements, and has good wind characteristics. While not a backpacking tent, it is reasonably lightweight. It is, in short, Good Enough; and I have yet to run across a fancier tent which succeeded in justifying it’s increased cost or complexity.

So tomorrow it’s going to be more preparations, all day. Shopping, packing, errands, prepping equipment, planning. Vacations can be such a chore 😉

If I don’t get another chance to write before we leave, have a great week, everyone! I’ll be back the first of August.

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