Tent shopping is not as easy as you would think.

My husband has never been camping.
I know.
Did you fall out of your chair? I almost did when I first learned that. I can’t imagine a life without camping.

As I was growing up, my family went camping multiple times each fall. We used a tent once or twice but it was typically in a cabin or a pop-up camper. Campfire, s’mores, bike riding, the whole nine yards. We even took three separate trips “out west,” about 3 weeks each, and camped the whole way. We pulled our little pop-up camper and set up each night, then tore down each morning before setting off on the next grand adventure. Everybody had a job… from Tyler, who was big enough each trip to help dad actually set up the camper and level it out, to Josh, who would place blocks underneath the wheels to keep us from rolling away in the night, and to Caleb, who was a “little guy” at the time and would set out gathering sticks and any other flammable thing nature provided in order to start a fire.

I have often done my best to persuade Jonathan to go camping with me, and often I’ve been turned down. I must have had some kind of breakthrough, though, because one day last week he text me from work and said “See if you can find a tent for sale online… maybe we can go camping next weekend.”

After I picked myself up off the floor, I excitedly logged onto Amazon, where I did about 3.267 seconds of research on different types of tents, then somewhat carefully selected a four-person “instant” tent made by Coleman. It was pretty and green and seemed like it would be durable enough to survive me & Jonathan while simple enough that nothing could go terribly wrong.

I drove home that evening, excited to tell Jonathan all about our wonderful new little tent that we were going to order. We sat down to dinner, and I began.
“I found the perfect tent…” I started out with.
“Really? Well, I did some shopping of my own,” he jumped in.
Uh oh. I knew this couldn’t be headed in the same direction I had been.

“Oh? What did you find?” I asked.
“Well…” with the flourish of a magician about to make his great reveal, he whipped out his phone and pulled up a webpage featuring a red tent that looked large enough to house the Duggars.

“It’s a nine-person tent!” he hooted. “With a fan and lights and walls so you can divide it into multiple rooms…” I dazed off as he continued to tell me about the remaining features: central air and heat, full plumbing, hardwood floors, a chandelier and a baby grand piano in the center.

Okay. Maybe it didn’t have quite all those amenities. But I pictured them there, anyway, and I started to freak out at the thought of cleaning that chandelier every time we had to go camping.

“Stop,” I told Jonathan. “We do NOT need all that… all that TENT.”
He wilted a little bit, and I felt like a horrible person.

Then he perked up a little bit. “Well, we can get this six-person tent!” he said. “It’s high, so I can stand up! And it’s an instant tent!”
“We do not need a six person tent,” I told him. “There are two of us.”
“Yes, but… I want to be able to stand up inside it,” he said, a little bit sadly.
And then my 5′ 1½” self felt bad again, because I often forget that tall people also have some difficulties in this world.
“Okay,” I conceded. “A six person tent it is.”

And,” continued Jonathan gleefully, “it is big enough to hold an air mattress!”

Oh man. The air mattress debate. We had gone around and around on this one before. I simply can not imagine that taking an air mattress camping is necessary. But I also need to remember that I am a remarkably versatile sleeper, and not everyone CAN sleep in cars… or on airplanes… or on concrete stairs… or standing up… or on the ground, in a tent. So again, I conceded (I’m getting pretty good at that in my old age).

And that is how, last week, we found ourselves setting up a beautiful red six-person instant tent in our backyard. (We then discovered that it’s less of an instant tear-down process, but that’s another story. Let’s just say there is lots of grass packed away with it right now).

It’s also how I made a trip with my VERY excited husband to Dirt Cheap and followed as he gleefully chose a queen-sized air mattress with a built-in blow-upper and air-sucker-outter (what else could it be called?). It is such an exciting time in our house right now.

PS, it has been too cold to take that camping trip yet. But soon, very soon, we will conquer the great outdoors. Without a chandelier, but definitely WITH an air mattress.

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