Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh Where O Where Did My Tent Go?

When my husband and I were first married, lo those 24 years ago, we were poor college students and looking for something inexpensive to do during spring break. We decided we would go tent camping since we had friends we could borrow the gear from. And although they told us they couldn't find the tent stakes, they assured us it wouldn't be a big deal.

So, we spent a bit of time getting things together and headed out to Oklahoma's Green Leaf park. It was late when we left because we'd had school that morning. The park wasn't too far from where we lived. About an hour or so, if I recall correctly.

The night was beautiful, and we were able to get a spot without too much problem. Turned out everyone else in Western Oklahoma had decided to camp at the park that night, too! We got the tent put up, trying to be quiet as other campers were sleeping. "Where's the blankets?" I asked my husband. "Huh?" Oh, great, he'd forgotten the blankets. It was pretty cool out, too. Well, we both couldn't go get the blankets, so my husband went, and I stayed and shivered.

The next day was quite breezy, and we decided to go for a hike around the lake. We went about a mile when I told my husband I didn't think I could make it all the way around the lake, so we turned around and headed back uphill towards camp.

Once we got back to one of the roads of the camping area, we saw a person rolling their dome tent down the road. Huh? We figured the wind must have caught it and we laughed about it. When we got back to our site, we saw immediately that something was wrong with the orientation of our tent, but couldn't figure out what it was.

Upon seeing us, the campers from the next site came over. "We don't know who it was," they said, "but someone pulled all the stakes out of your tent, and it was blowing down the road. We got it and brought it back!"

Of course, we didn't tell them that we didn't bring any stakes, and we realized then that the door of the tent was pointing in a different direction than when we'd left. Ever since then, we make sure we bring sleeping bags and tent stakes!


Susan Borowy said...


That reminded me of a practical joke we pulled on an unsuspecting fun-loving (thankfully) couple during a group campout in Santa Barbara. We went there with about 30 of our car club buddies for a long holiday weekend about 10 years ago. Views of the ocean... trees... peace... good friends... lots of food and hiking and fun... it was great.

Until the couple in question went to clean up for bed in the community bathrooms the first night, leaving about a dozen of us late-niters sitting around the campfire getting high on s'mores. WE knew they hadn't staked down their dome tent and they were adamant that they didn't need stakes. He was the only one that insisted he didn't need to stake it down - it wouldn't blow away and they had enough weight inside to keep it in place. Besides, it wasn't windy, he said.

Well. That was a challenge.

Soooo... while they were away for 15 minutes, we carefully relocated their tent from one very dark corner of our group lot to another very dark corner (behind my much larger staked-down squarish tent as a matter of fact!), then resumed our lazy poses by the campfire and waited.

HE came back first. We watched surreptitiously as he disappeared in the general former-location of his tent. About 10 seconds later, we heard a cuss word whispered and then the shuffling of feet and more quiet cussing as he moved around and around searching. By this time we were biting our tongues to not react 'cuz we knew he'd hear US too!

Two minutes later he shows up at the fire. Of course, we feign ignorance. He looks, reorients himself, and tramps valiantly off again, sure that he has the right location.

Again the cussing... and this time we started giggling.

SHE finally showed up and wondered why were all doubled-over laughing. As soon as she heard her hubby cussing, she followed his noises, found the empty spot, marched right back to US and demanded "Okay where is it, you nuts!?!" Didn't take her more than 10 seconds to get the picture while we'd had the dubious pleasure of torturing him for several minutes.

They were really good-natured about it all, and left the tent in its new location for the weekend. We heard him staking it down before they went to bed too - which brought on another round of giggling and ideas on how we could un-stake it, relocate it, and move it while they were inside during the night (we didn't, but it sure brought on the laughter).

Good times!
- Susan Borowy

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Laughed at this post! Awesome.

For twelve years I worked as a back country ranger and did ten day canoe trips. One such trip I forgot the tent POLES. Rocks can be used for stakes but POLES are hard to substitute. I used a complicated system of rope tied to branches. My tent looked like it was caught in a different spider web each night.
Love the camping adventures!

Anonymous said...

That was nice of those other campers to rescue your tent. The instructions with my tent emphasize using stakes in big, bold, all-capped letters. I guess now I should believe them!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

This brought back so many fond memories of camping trips from our much younger days. Thanks for the laugh!

Anonymous said...

I have soooo many camping stories, and yours reminded me of the joy of the adventure.

One of my favorites was when I went to a writing retreat with my best friend (a multi-pubbed YA author, but such a city girl) We had primitive log cabins, but only a campfire for cooking, no plumbing, etc.

We made ribs for dinner that night and while I banked the fire, she cleaned up. We went to bed. Around midnight we were wakened by clanging and banging outside accompanied by the distinct snuffling sound and aroma of BEAR.

I told her it was prob checking for scraps and asked if she'd put everything away. She said yes, she brought all the ribs in but... oh no! she forgot the honey BBQ sauce!

Then my friend SHOVED me toward the door with the urgent command "Go get it!"

Silly city girl :)

Needless to say...the bear was permitted to enjoy ALL the BBQ sauce it wanted. I went back to bed.