A’tenting we will go…No!

The tent
By camping emmet

It’s the end of an era.
The tent is a goner.
It was a wonderful purchase, from L.L. Bean’s, natch, and it took me from the Allagash to countless campgrounds, even the Cobb Manor backyard on occasion. I have had some wonderful times and some horrible nights, sleeping on roots and rocks, rocking and rolling all night, trying to get comfortable. Then there were the sounds, which always reminded me of the jungle scenes in the old Tarzan movies. There are no quiet woods, I have decided.
It is amazing how quickly a tent will change a remote wilderness into a home. I always brought along a red and white tablecloth to make the domestication complete. My beautiful tent protected me from a dozen rainstorms.
When I was invited for Father’s Day to the fabulous Four Seasons in Naples, naturally I took my fabulous tent. Naturally I took the notorious green York box, which held the camp kitchen and 1,000 accessories. When I arrived, I was advised that the best site (number 10 on your scorecard) was available along with a camper trailer.
What? I was a seasoned, veteran tent camper and I preferred the cold, hard ground and a campsite to cook on. I was a manly man, after all. Crawling out of the tent in the morning, partially crippled, was the way I chose to travel.
As a polite person, I agreed to investigate the site and the camper trailer. I noted that the site was indeed the best with a view of the water, a large fire pit and bench. The only visible neighbors were the loons and the ducks. A quick investigation of the camper-trailer, disclosed a shower and toilet, stove and refrigerator, sink with running (hot and cold) water and a bed. Make that several beds. It had a large, queen size bed and several bunk beds. I planned to test them all, like Goldilocks.
Naturally I had packed lanterns and flashlights, my personal fetish. I have more flashlights than Maglite. I even had several headlamps. All of them were needless. The camper (honest to God) had electric lights! Talk about miracles.
The decision was easy. I wasn’t such a manly man after all. I mean a stove and refrigerator. A flush toilet! I have never been a fan of outhouses, as vital as they could be. I left the tent in the car and moved the rest of the gear into my New Best Friend, the camper-trailer. I opened the (Bean’s) sleeping bag on the queen sized bed. Heaven.
The end of an era.
The Father’s Day weekend was wonderful with daughter Bridget and that guy related to her by marriage, plus the grand, grandchildren. Matthew and Meara (honest) spent the weekend racing around the campground at top speed, barefoot. They leapt over fences, on and off the swings, and raced off to find their parade of friends. Every time they landed, barefoot, it sent a stab of pain up my 70-year-old spine. At night, Matthew was in charge of the campfire and did a heroic job keeping his elders warm and happy. Was I ever that young? Did I ever run all day long? Did I ever go barefoot all day? They have no idea how wonderful this campground situation is, and will not, for several decades. Did any of us?
In the perfect afternoon, I sat on my private deck, listening to the loons and ducks, read “Tortilla Flat” and drank Yellow Tail wine along with Steinbeck, Danny, Pilon, Pablo and The Pirate. I forgot how much I loved Steinbeck. Life was not perfect. There was no e-mail, no Facebook in that section of the campground. A day without “Brain” Willson’s bird pics. The horror! But through the magic of iPad, I was joined by Delbert McClinton, Tom Waits and Diana Krall. It was a long, long way from snow on the Allagash.
When I felt like it, I went into the camper, took food from the refrigerator and cooked it on the stove. Talk about modern convenience. When the spirit moved me, I hauled the Ocean Explorer kayak a foot or two into the water and explored Long Lake. It is, indeed, a very long lake.
At the end of the glorious day, after a celebratory cigar on the deck, I walked into the camper-trailer, turned on the light and crawled into the queen size bed. I read a little more “Tortilla Flat”, turned out the light and slept like a babe. In the morning I would take the food out of the refrigerator, cook breakfast on a stove and wash the dishes in a sink with hot water.
Anybody want to buy a (slightly used) Bean’s tent? I’ll never use it again. Maybe in the backyard.