I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with tents. I loved them before they became a part of my work life. I hate ’em as a part of the business plan.
My earliest memories of tents were the simplest. A tarp hung over a pickup bed along the Pecos River to keep a light shower off us. Another time at the lake, a tarp simply pulled over us in our bedroll on the ground during another night out under the stars with the other set of grandparents. That one ended up being during a drenching thunderstorm.
I remember constructing simple pup tents out of twine, broom handles and a blanket to play in under my grandparents’ mulberry tree. It might have shaded us and protected us from falling mulberries and bird poop but a cotton blanket wouldn’t have stood two seconds in the rain.
I bought a backpacker’s tent as a teenager. It was a pup tent with short walls and a floor. Made from orange nylon with aluminum pole sections and metal stakes. It was easy to set up, even in the dark on a sheet of ice. It was OK as shelter goes but not so great if it rains more than an hour or so. On the good side that thin nylon kept bears and mountain lions outside on lots of trips.
Some of my best backpacking trips were spent in a hammock with my poncho strung across a string above me.
In my chamber director life putting on events, I’ve lost count of the number of popup shelters we’ve watched get destroyed by the wind. Most of them are easy to put up, but you can’t do it with one or two people.
We’ve had several ridgepole shade tents and I still have the poles or most of them in a closet; the tent fabric apparently went to Texas during the storm.
We used a heavier tent for years at Heritage Days and I finally bought the thing so we would have it any time we needed it. The poles are longer than my pickup bed and the thing goes together in sections with poles tall enough that you can walk under the tent. When you get it together right it’s pretty stable in the wind and it’s big enough that one year we fit a whole bluegrass group underneath in a rainstorm. Best concert ever.
My biggest problem with that tent is that when you only put it together once a year, it’s like a new experience putting it together. By the time you read this I’ll know if all of the poles and stakes got picked up last year and if my mental capacity was able to direct its erection one more year.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: