Our first night in a tent was in Florida in Fort De Soto campground in Pinellas County near St Petersburg FL. We had decided to take on back country backpacking one component at a time and see how she liked it. This would just be the overnight component in a 1.5 person backpacking tent. Breakfast would be back country style too but that was incidental. There was a real bathroom, electricity, and the car was parked right there. It was to be followed and proceeded by restaurant food and an indoor bed. This way we only tried on the tent for style and a little outdoor cooking.
That night we sat on the shore and watched dolphins and fish jump out of the water. When we were ready for bed the wind was blowing about 10 miles an hour in the tops of the palm trees. This was a melody to me but sounded scary to her. You never know what emotions sound will trigger.
My tenacious tweety reported sleeping good when she slept because she really like the top of the line Big Agnus sleeping mat I had for her and her Northface sleeping bag rated for zero was certainly adequate for the 52 degrees.
The times she didn’t sleep was from the night mares of alligators coming to “chomp her”. So saying she was a little sleepy in the morning is an understatement. Be prepared that your girl may not be used to outdoors sounds at first. My Honey concluded as we talked the next morning that her thoughts were irrational. I shared that time and experience would make her accustomed to outdoor noises and it would then be much better. I got really transparent and told her that I had been scared by some sounds during my first few nights sleeping outdoors. She recovered so much that she was even looking forward to the next adventure in the tent because the sleeping surface was so comfortable.
We settled in at the picnic table with the Jetboil, coffee and tea. Got our devotional books and Bible out of the car and tried to enjoy some quiet time with God. It was difficult because of the sleepless night and some other lessons we learned on that overnighter that I’ll share later.
To provide a reward for this effort…to apply salve to an abrasion…to cheer a cloud covered heart—we struck out in the car for a day in Tarpon Springs. It is a completely Greek town and they were having a town wide street party and we needed it. We sampled fun new food, ate flaming cheese and bought goat soap. We took pictures by the sponge boats, in the tourist cut out of a diver and with the big plastic turtle. It was a fun day that matched in intensity the level of the bad night.
We overcame some tough moments and rewarded ourselves with some very special moments. She now enjoys the tent experience so much more but sure needed a special day back then. She needed a romantic day exploring a very european-Greek looking town…to walk arm in arm all day relaxed and happy to be together.
From this experience we decided to always pair something awesome we know for sure we both like with a new experience that might be challenging.