“GLAMPING” In The Great Outdoors
First, I want to apologize for the overdue blogs. We have spent the last several months gearing up for this Fall’s photo excursions – with a twist! We decided to start camping again! You heard me correctly, camping. For those of you who know me well, you know that after many years of camping as a Boy Scout, with friends and family, and as a scout leader, my idea of camping became the closest hotel near my trailhead. I always enjoyed camping, but it had lost its luster for me at about age 35. I just needed that hot shower, warm bed, and a quick cup of coffee in the morning before going afield. Hotels offered peace and quiet, hot showers, flush toilets, a free breakfast, and other creature comforts camping just could not deliver. As we got older and older those comforts seemed even more important to us.
Now in my senior years, camping has for some reason beckoned me to return to tent camping. Why I do not know, but Lisa and I are glad we switched back. After tossing the subject out during our afternoon coffee one day, Lisa looked at me as if I had lost my mind. Camping? In a tent? I had to be kidding her, she said. I then set about explaining what “glamping” was, and how much more enjoyable it would be. I knew her two biggest concerns (as for most women) would be the bathrooms and beds. Then I showed Lisa a few videos of others (our age) glamping at their favorite locations. I told her I was ready to give it try if she was.
At this point I need to explain what “glamping” actually entails. Glamping is tent camping in a much more comfortable way – some say a more luxurious way. Glampers sleep on self-inflating air beds, use regular pillows, sheets, and blankets (or sleeping bags), have their own portable toilet – in a two-room utility tent which is also a shower on one side, use a fan, air conditioner, or heater as needed, cook in a microwave or a propane stove — get the idea? You do not have to rough it any more! We started investigating and found that not only could it work for us, it would be very economical.
What We Decided
We had to buy everything since we stopped camping thirty years ago – and sold or gave all of our gear away. Things have changed a lot in thirty years, too. I was in the sporting goods business for twenty years and I outfitted people to camp, backpack, and fish all over the world, so I knew about gear – at least back then. I was very experienced at camping, hiking, and backpacking since I had been doing those activities since i was a teenager. Lisa and I were both scout leaders for several years so we also had those experiences under our belts.
But as I said, today’s camping products, camp sites and associated gear are different than back then. The first two obstacles to overcome concerned bathrooms and sleeping arrangements. Number one concerns: Bathrooms – No pit toilets or latrines for her. No sleeping on the ground or uncomfortable cots. Those two concerns are no problem in today’s world of camping. First we purchased a queen size air bed (self-inflating). Then we purchased a portable toilet consisting of a bucket, seat/lid, and special waste bags. We tried these out and found they both worked quite well. Then we started looking for a tent. We settled on a ten person dark-rest, instant tent by Ozark Trails (Walmart’s brand). You are supposed to be able to set this tent up in five minutes – yeah right. The tent claimed to offer a very dark interior, dark enough to sleep during the day if you wanted to. This would be great for editing images during the day! Our tent also had a rain fly with two “Skylight” windows so we could see out if we wanted to. Having been a disliker of Walmart all of my adult life, I couldn’t wait to get the tent and see how “bad” it was. To my great surprise it appeared to be of very good quality. We decided to set it up in the backyard to check it out. Their claim that you could set it up in five minutes – wrong! It only took us a little over three minutes and that included a ground tarp and the rain fly! Note: We did not stake it down during this trial. That would have made it five minutes overall.
I have to admit the tent looked to be made well, and seemed sturdy. The seams were sealed, it had a bathtub bottom, the poles were steel, the zippers were good, and there are windows everywhere in this tent! The tent features excellent ventilation, and the window and door panels are easily and quickly stored. The tent has sewn in pockets for storing small items as well as a mesh storage unit you can place where you want. There is also a nylon panel so the tent can be divided into two rooms if desired. I can honestly say that it performed flawlessly on our first seven day trip, including winds up to forty miles per hour when a cold front came through. I found it remarkable that the tent did not flap, shimmy, or shake during this wind storm. We both slept very well on the queen size airbed.
Another item we purchased is a snap together rubber floor. This flooring is lightweight, easy to put together and also provides cushion and insulation. The insulation factor is very important as it acts as a thermal break from cold ground air. It is also very nice on bare feet!
I will post more about our camping and photography trips, since we have a few already planned. Look for more on our first trip soon!