Lockdown Day 22: Past Tents, Part 1 / Encierro Día 22: Tienda de Compaña, Parte 1

I TOLD THIS STORY BACK in 2010. But that was long before I started telling my stories in both English and Spanish. So, here it is with more photos.

When I was in college, I had a friend named Jean who had plans to go skiing for the first time in her life.  The week before the event, Jean was so excited that, like many first-time skiers, she went shopping.  She returned with skis, boots, poles, goggles; and a beautiful snow bunny outfit all in white, including a parka with fake fur around the hood. She added a dash of color in the form of a sky blue six-foot-long wool scarf that she imagined trailing in the wind as she schussed the black diamond trails. Jean was going to be amazing. She unpacked all her goods and, to the delight of her roommates, modeled every last thing, including the skis.

Small living rooms are not designed for skis.  Jean got her skis crossed, tripped over the coffee table, and broke her leg. She spent the next two months in a cast and gave her ski gear and snow bunny outfit to her sister Mary.

We’ve been more successful at camping than Jean was at skiing. We haven’t broken any bones.

ONE SPRING DAY IN 1993 in Guilford, Connecticut, San Geraldo and I were visiting a friend at her cottage on Lake Quonnipaug when she asked if we needed a tent. Until that moment, we had absolutely no need for a tent. But, now that she mentioned it, we did already have a canoe and a matching Isuzu Trooper.

I had been a boy scout and my father had been the scout master. (It’s a good thing I was too young to understand I was gay or the Boy Scouts of America would have kicked me out and I might never have learned how to make hunter’s stew or use a compass.) I had been camping (with Jean and other friends) on the Sacandaga River near Albany, New York, when I was at university. SG had been camping when he was in grad school and after. We had both enjoyed it.

Anyway, our friend had a three-person dome tent she wanted to sell. It was like new, so we bought it. We then began planning our first camping trip. We already had a great camping cook stove from SG’s father (I don’t know why), so we went out and bought sleeping bags, pots and pans, glazed enamel dinnerware, a huge water jug, lanterns, canteens, a couple of coolers, a folding shovel, and everything else of interest at our local camping supply store. We practiced setting up the tent in our backyard. We were ready. Being from the prairie, SG prefers open spaces and is not comfortable in deep, dark woods. Being the son of The Dowager Duchess, I do not like latrines or cold showers. So, we carefully researched campgrounds and found the perfect place in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Large campsites, flush toilets, hot showers. Lakes and rivers nearby for the canoe. And 10 minutes from Bennington.

Judyshannonstreetwhat (click here if you don’t know her), the intrepid adventurer, flew in from Seattle and we made preparations for our first camping adventure. We watched the weather forecasts with concern. Heavy rains were predicted for New England. Judy said we shouldn’t worry. The morning our adventure was to start, it was raining in Guilford. SG and I were hesitant but Judy said, you never know what the weather will actually be doing in Vermont. Besides, what’s a little rain? (Remember, she’s from Seattle where people don’t tan, they rust.)

So, we loaded up the Trooper, strapped the canoe to the roof, and headed out. The rain continued steadily until we reached Amherst, Massachusetts, about half-way there. It cleared a bit for the rest of the drive. We arrived under threatening skies at a spectacular and entirely deserted campground. So, we quickly set up camp and drove into Bennington to buy a 10 x 15 foot screen house (3 x 4 meters) with drop-down plastic panels to enclose it from the elements. In a steadily increasing drizzle, we erected the screen house; no small task — nothing fit the way it was supposed to. We finished just ahead of the downpour. Inside our dry and safe enclosure, we cooked a delicious spaghetti dinner, we then took hot showers, and settled in for the night.

I don’t know who does the ratings, but three-person tents are not designed for three people — unless those three people are little people. Or maybe three-person tents are just not the best idea when two of the people are SG and me. Judy immediately fell contentedly asleep. SG and I tossed and turned trying to find places for our legs in the cramped quarters as we listened to the rain pound the nylon, and the damp settled into our bones. At 11:30, SG had a meltdown. He muttered furiously that this was impossible and he couldn’t take it anymore. He unzipped his mummy bag, unzipped the tent flap, and took off in the car. I had no idea where he was going or when/if he was coming back. Nor, clearly, did he. The headlights of the car flooded the tent with daylight as he backed away from the campsite. Judy slept.

I spent the rest of the night worrying.  The rain had become a constant torrent.  Where had SG gone? Why did my sleeping bag feel wet?  Why had the ground beneath the tent gone soft?  Was SG coming back?  Had he gone off the road?  Had the car been washed into a river?  How could Judy possibly sleep through all this?

And was it my imagination or was that a river of mud to the left of my sleeping bag?

I almost forgot to mention:
Lockdown has been extended through 26 April. Whatever it takes.

“PAST TENTS” TO BE CONTINUED…

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CONTÉ ESTA HISTORIA EN 2010. Pero eso fue mucho antes de que comenzara a contar mis historias en también en español. Entonces, aquí está con más fotos.

Cuando estaba un estudiante en la universidad, tenía una amiga llamada Jean que tenía planes de ir a esquiar por primera vez en su vida. La semana anterior al evento, Jean estaba tan emocionada que, como muchos esquiadores primerizos, fue de compras. Regresó con esquís, botas, bastones, gafas protectoras; y un hermoso traje de conejito de nieve todo en blanco, que incluye una parka con piel sintética alrededor de la capucha. Agregó una pizca de color en forma de una bufanda de lana azul celeste de 6 pies (2 metros) de largo que imaginó arrastrada por el viento mientras trazaba los senderos de diamantes negros. Jean iba a ser increíble. Desempacó todos sus bienes y, para deleite de sus cuatro compañeras de cuarto, modeló hasta el último detalle, incluidos los esquís.

Las salas de estar pequeñas no están diseñadas para esquís. Jean cruzó los esquís, tropezó con la mesa del centro y se rompió la pierna. Pasó los siguientes dos meses en un yeso y le dio su equipo de esquí y su traje de conejito de nieve a su hermana Mary.

Hemos tenido más éxito en el campamento que Jean en el esquí. No nos hemos roto ningún hueso.

UN DÍA DE PRIMAVERA DE 1993 en Guilford, Connecticut, San Geraldo y yo estábamos visitando a una amiga en su casa en el lago Quonnipaug cuando nos preguntó si necesitábamos una tienda de campaña. Hasta ese momento, no teníamos ninguna necesidad de una tienda de campaña. Pero, ahora que lo mencionó, ya teníamos una canoa y un Isuzu Trooper a juego.

Había sido un boy scout y mi padre había sido el maestro scout. (Es bueno que fuera demasiado joven para comprender que era homosexual o los Boy Scouts of America me habrían echado y tal vez nunca hubiera aprendido a preparar el guiso de un cazador o usar una brújula). Había estado acampando (con Jean y otros amigos) en el río Sacandaga, cerca de Albany, Nueva York, cuando estaba en la universidad. SG había estado acampando cuando estaba en su curso posgrado y después. Los dos lo disfrutamos.

De todos modos, nuestra amiga tenía una tienda de campaña domo para tres personas que quería vender. Era como nuevo, así que lo compramos. Entonces comenzamos a planear nuestro primer viaje de campamento. Ya teníamos una estufa de acampar del padre de SG (no sé por qué), así que salimos y compramos sacos de dormir, ollas y sartenes, vajillas de esmalte esmaltado, una enorme jarra de agua, linternas, comedores, un par de refrigeradores , una pala plegable y todo lo demás de interés en nuestra tienda local de suministros para acampar. Practicamos armar la tiends de campaña en nuestro patio trasero. Estábamos listos. Siendo de la pradera, SG prefiere espacios abiertos y no se siente cómodo en bosques profundos y oscuros. Siendo hijo de La Duquesa Viuda, no me gustan las letrinas ni las duchas frías. Entonces, investigamos cuidadosamente los campamentos y encontramos el lugar perfecto en las Montañas Verdes de Vermont. Grandes campings, inodoros, duchas con agua caliente. Lagos y ríos cercanos para la canoa. Y a 10 minutos de la ciudad de Bennington (con una población de 15.000).

Judyshannonstreetwhat (haz clic aquí si no la conoce), la intrépida aventurera, voló desde Seattle e hicimos los preparativos para nuestra primera aventura de campamento. Observamos los pronósticos del tiempo con preocupación. Se pronosticaron fuertes lluvias para toda Nueva Inglaterra. Judy dijo que no deberíamos preocuparnos. La mañana en que comenzaba nuestra aventura, estaba lloviendo en Guilford. SG y yo dudamos, pero Judy dijo que nunca se sabe qué tiempo hará en Vermont. “Además, ¿qué es un poco de lluvia?” (Recuerde, ella es de Seattle, donde la gente no se broncea, se oxida).

Entonces, cargamos al Trooper, amarramos la canoa al techo, y salimos. La lluvia continuó hasta que llegamos a Amherst, Massachusetts, a mitad de camino. Se despejó un poco para el resto del viaje. Llegamos bajo cielos amenazantes a un campamento espectacular y completamente desierto. Entonces, establecimos rápidamente el campamento y fuimos a Bennington a comprar una casa de pantalla de 10 x 15 pies (3 x 4 metros) con paneles de plástico desplegables para encerrarla de los elementos. En una llovizna cada vez mayor, erigimos la casa de la pantalla; no es una tarea pequeña, nada encaja como se suponía que debía. Terminamos justo antes del aguacero. Dentro de nuestro recinto seco y seguro, cocinamos una deliciosa cena de espagueti, luego tomamos duchas calientes y nos acomodamos para pasar la noche.

No sé quién califica, pero las carpas de tres personas no están diseñadas para tres personas, a menos que esas tres personas sean personas pequeñas. O tal vez las tiendas de tres personas no son la mejor idea cuando dos de las personas somos SG y yo. Judy se quedó dormida de inmediato. SG y yo dimos vueltas e intentamos encontrar lugares para nuestras piernas en los cuartos estrechos mientras escuchamos la lluvia golpear el nylon y la humedad se instaló en nuestros huesos. A las 11:30, SG tuvo un colapso. Murmuró furiosamente que esto era imposible y que no podía soportarlo más. Abrió la cremallera de su bolso de momia, abrió la tapa de la tienda y se fue en el auto. No tenía idea de a dónde iba o cuándo/si volvería. Tampoco, claramente, lo hizo. Los faros del automóvil inundaron la carpa con luz del día cuando se alejó del campamento. Judy se durmió.

Pasé el resto de la noche preocupándome. La lluvia se había convertido en un torrente constante. ¿A dónde se había ido SG? ¿Por qué mi bolsa de dormir se sentía húmeda? ¿Por qué el suelo debajo de la tienda se había ablandado? ¿SG regresaba? ¿Se había salido del camino? ¿Había sido arrastrado el auto al río? ¿Cómo podría Judy posiblemente dormir todo esto?

¿Y era mi imaginación o era un río de lodo a la izquierda de mi saco de dormir?

Casi se me olvida mencionar:
El encierro se ha extendido hasta el 26 de abril. Lo que sea necesario.

“TIENDA DE COMPAÑA” CONTINUARÁ…

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Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

37 thoughts on “Lockdown Day 22: Past Tents, Part 1 / Encierro Día 22: Tienda de Compaña, Parte 1”

  1. Where did SG go!? And how could Judy sleep through all this?!
    Looking forward to the next chapter of ‘Past Tents’.

      1. anne marie:
        Thank you, thank you, thank you. I tried to come up with a Spanish version but my Spanish I guess just isn’t good enough.

  2. the news from spain is very scary. we too are on lockdown until 4/30 in PA. you would NEVER catch me camping; I’m not the outdoors type, I am a city girl. and the video is very soothing, listening to the waves.

    1. anne marie:
      The news is improving here at last. But it’s going to be a long haul. I love camping but not without hot showers and flush toilets.

  3. Looking forward to the next installment of this series! Don’t think I’ve ever camped in a tent (and this covers scores of times on different continents) where it wasn’t pouring with rain, ungodly hot or freezing cold. Very rarely fair weather. But lots of funny and not so funny adventures.

    1. Mary:
      Tent camping, for me, is blissful. As long as the weather cooperates… and it’s a big enough tent.

  4. Oh my goodness, your poor friend and her skiing trip! hahahahaha! That would be MY kind of luck.

    And when you mentioned three people going camping with a three person tent, I immediately thought “uh oh!” Gregg and I used to go camping regularly and a three person tent for just the two of us would be way too small! They’re only meant for three people if you’re willing to sleep like sardines in a can. I don’t blame SG one little bit for taking off! I’ve been on the verge of that myself during cold and/or rainy camping trips. It’s always the middle of the night when the “I’ve got to get the f*ck out of here” feeling strikes, too. 🙂

    1. Jennifer:
      In San Diego, we installed a 3-person spa on our deck. You think we would have learned our lesson. So, in San Francisco we installed a 6-person spa!

  5. Oh, I miss tent camping so very much! I hate cliffhangers, Scoot! We never, ever had a tent smaller that a six person one. Looking forward to the next installment. I wonder if you two lived happily ever after. The suspense is killing me!

    1. Deedles:
      We never graduated to a larger tent, but we never tried to cram three people inside again either. And, oh the suspense. You’ll just have to wait and find out if SG ever returned.

  6. OOOH a cliff hanger! This is a good one (as they all are but usually no cliff hangers). I am sure we are all expecting our lockdowns/State of Emergencies to be extended. We are still not on lockdown but almost which means most businesses are closed unless they can do delivery or takeout.

    1. Cheapchick:
      Our lockdown appears to be doing the trick. It looks like things are on the upswing here. I wonder when, if ever, things will be back to normal.

    1. Wilma:
      I kind of like that word play myself. I wish I could have come up with something equally as clever in Spanish! We’re doing fine here. No current cases of coronavirus in our entire city, apparently. That’s reassuring. Hope you’re doing well.

  7. Wow! I admire your commitment to the project but I’m guessing SG went to a motel — which is probably what I would have done, too!

    1. Steve:
      I love camping, but this was not the best experience. Although, we did have a lot of laughs.

    1. larrymuffin:
      Oh, no, at my last hotel I had to dial 6 for room service. You would have been miserable!

  8. First what a glorious video – thank you for that. Second I don’t understand what you mean about the Boy Scouts and gay??? That’s where I learned everything about gay sex. I’m not sure but I think I got a merit badge in several of the events …..

    1. Willym:
      Fortunately for me, I was a Boy Scout for less than a year. My father found it too tiring in combination with his work, and the month after he quit, I quit. I don’t think I was in long enough to get even one merit badge… in anything.

  9. So former boy scout, do you ever find yourself needing to make hunters stew (whatever that might be) or in a place where you simply must use a compass to find your way home? I guess we all know that San Geraldo returned eventually. My guess is that he went to spend the night in a hotel.

    Love,
    Janie

    1. Janie Junebug:
      I think hunters stew was simply a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And, no I have no idea how we made it. As for the compass, truth is, I knew how to use one BEFORE Boy Scouts. So, I guess I didn’t take anything away from my experience.

  10. Can not wait for the next chapter. . .
    I have backpacked the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California from Yosemite to Mount Whitney to Mammoth Mountains.
    Have to tell you roughing it for me is now is no Chocolates on the pillows !
    parsnip

    1. Parsnip:
      I never backpacked. Judy, however, used to backpack for miles and then set up camp. Definitely not for me.

  11. I remember this story (and how it ends)! Camping in the northeast is fun, but often wet. We enjoyed camping in California and the southwestern deserts. Much less rain. Our tent was sold as a 4-person tent, but it just barely fits the two of us and a dog. It could fit 4 people, but there would be no room for sleeping bags or clothes or anything else. And one of the people would have to stand.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      Those estimates are so strange. We bought a 3-person spa in San Diego that overflowed if three people got in. So, we bought a 6-person spa in San Francisco and that was perfect for 4 or 5.

Share your thoughts and experiences. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.