26: My Nights in a Tent

26: My Nights in a Tent

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

My Nights in a Tent

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!

~John Muir

Once a year my husband and I enter that storage unit most of us have called the “garage,” to revisit all those treasures we thought we just couldn’t live without. He wants to throw out those bottles I have saved for the day I might make flavored oils. I want to toss those small jars he saves for that oddball screw, nut and bolt. We anguish a little, laugh a lot, and end up pitching it all.

Then there’s that shelf with all the camping gear we never use. The Coleman stove for wonderful outdoor cooking, the coffee pot for hot chocolate, the special toaster that fits on the grill, the sleeping bags, and of course the tent made for two.

My husband grew up camping. His stories are colorful and fun. They are fun to hear, but I think my allergies act up just listening to stories about being one with nature.

Every year I feel guilty as he scans the shelf, looking at it with such longing. I immediately start planning our next vacation to Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, a cruise… anything to take his mind off that tent.

For many years I’ve dodged the word camping. Last year the guilt finally set in. I poured a glass of wine, took a deep breath and told my husband I’d love to spend some time in a tent with him. You’d have thought we were going on an around-the-world cruise.

For me it was an “open to buy!” I went to the 99¢ Only Store and bought a plastic container, filling it with tablecloth, silverware, knives, pans, detergent, sponges, etc. All the things I thought I might need to set up housekeeping outdoors. I do love to cook so I filled the cooler with chops, steaks, sausages and all the wonderful foods I felt we needed for our camping trip my way… “gourmet.”

The hours my husband spent planning our destinations was a treat in itself. I knew I had made the right decision. I hoped and prayed I’d made the right decision.

Our trip was to be two weeks: some camping, some hotels thrown in because I was such a “great wife,” and then some more camping.

Living in California we headed for Las Vegas. We stayed the first night with friends and hit the casinos. That wasn’t bad. I was going to like this. Then on to Utah! It was September and all the leaves were changing. It was so beautiful. My husband found a wonderful campsite near a lake and set up my kitchen. As I prepared pork chops for dinner he set up our tent. The lantern was hung from a tree near the stove and as I watched the bugs fly around that light all I could think of was “how many are falling into this food?” Dinner was just as he had described, with everything tasting better over an open fire. I made s’mores and felt young again. We spent the evening huddled close, sharing stories of our youth. That night, our first night in a tent, was COLD. But it’s amazing how warm two bodies are when they are snuggled in a sleeping bag.

We went to Fort Bridger and Fort Casper in Wyoming. We wandered Deadwood, home of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. We marveled at the wonder of Mount Rushmore. We saw the progress of the mountain carving of Crazy Horse. We traveled to Little Bighorn and onto Yellowstone. Old Faithful was faithful and the geysers were a sight from prehistoric times. We picnicked in the fields below the Grand Teton National Park. We even cowboy danced in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

That shelf in the garage holds new meaning for me. It’s no longer a shelf I’m longing to clean out, but a shelf I love to visit, even silently by myself.

And I truly love that tent!


~Kristine Byron

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