Tag Archives: tent

A Beautiful “Do Over” Moonlit Night

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“Our favorite time of light when the sun kisses the night”

“Fighting is terrible but at least you get to make up,” someone said to me once.  I’m not a big fan of this idea but when making up follows real resolution, I’m all about that.  Still seated in the coffee shop where we hashed out the 9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site…our skin was suffering from the hot air outside and the air inside was still warm from the fiery debate. But our hearts were aglow with the joy and satisfaction of having been heard and appreciated. Unsure what to do now with this hard earned vacation day, we just sat pondering over our useful solution to our ugly problem.

It was in the happy but tentative silence of that moment that my Honey quietly asked a question: “Is there any part of you that wants to try this again?” I immediately responded, “yes”.

Almost without words we committed to each other to do the same primitive night between the dunes and the waves of the Gulf that we had tried to do the night before. With the energy of excitement over certain success, we repacked all our gear and checked our supplies.

Back to Perdido Key we went. Our park pass that cost only $15 dollars for the week was still good so we whipped the car in behind the Ranger’s Station and filled out another primitive back country registration form.  We giggle as we drove in with that deja vu feeling…or maybe more like the movie Ground Hog Day where the main character got to repeat the same day over and over until he got it right.

We dove past all the public beaches, past the last legal parking spot and down to the end of the blacktop. We made a nest for Loral to soak up the sun and watch the waves and I drove the half mile back to park the car. I returned to kiss my Honey and help her into her backpack. We made silly puns and meandered along the shore looking for perfect sea shells.

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My Honey – so happy to be barefoot in the sand!

My honey was barefooted, clad in her one piece bathing suit and 40 pound pack. She walked on the packed wet sand and let the waves tickle her toes. I have a bit of bad background with direct sunlight so I was in my hat, long sleeves, pants, boots and 60 pound pack.  I walked along in the loose sand and occasionally on the packed sand when I could dodge the waves.

We stopped and talked to fisherman and other campers while we covered almost a mile more of beach to get to a secluded spot. With all that we learned we discussed how we would set up camp satisfying all our practical concerns and her nesting decorating concerns. Camp was perfect and our meandering trip through the dunes carefully stepping around the protected vegetation was peaceful.

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The dunes washed in pastel light

We set up our tiny chairs on the other side of the key, got out our snacks and water and settled in to wait for the most glorious sunset we have seen to date.  The fish jumped from the water and the birds flittered all around as if celebrating our restored joy. As the sun melted into our Favorite Time of Light we held hands and gushed on and on about the beauty of what God had made.

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Wow!

We slipped back to our camp – which looked awesome as we approached – and throughly enjoyed our evening and night under the biggest full moon I have ever seen. We slept with the flaps open on the tent letting the gulf breeze blow through and carry away the heat and cares of the day.

The next morning we spent in our beach cabana reading our Bible and talking to the Creator. We watched the hermit crabs surface tentatively from their holes and scurry back at the least sign of danger. We watched the fish jump and the birds float on the air currents and then reluctantly left that happy time to pack up and break camp.

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Camp is ready and we are off to the sunset

Loral jumped in the water to prepare for the hot hike back and once again I covered up from head to toe to lead the way to the car. This chance to repeat what had been so badly damaged was such a special treat. Thank God we get the chance sometimes for a “do over.”

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Is there something you need to hash out with your Honey to get resolved and move on? Is there any way to get a “do over” to reclaim what was lost?

We Did it Our Way!

It’s not my way. It’s not your way. It’s our way!

Natchez Trace where we learned to do it OUR WAY!
Natchez Trace where we learned to do it OUR WAY!

Both of us are at least 40 and I’ll be 50 this December. We both have figured out by this point in our lives how to do all that need to be done. Our methods and strategies have worked well for us. So well that we attracted each other. There is no struggle to learn how to do things out of necessity. We weren’t learning how to do laundry, clean the kitchen, pay the bills, maintain a car or cook a chicken. We aren’t first timers at much of anything. This conviction that we have figured most things out is exactly what got us in trouble. When two people with deeply established life patterns get together, both of you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing without a crash.  It just doesn’t work for very long. Difference surface and sparks fly.

On a camping trip in Tennessee at Natchez Trace State Park our differences came to a boiling point. We had been carefully taking turns doing things my way one time and then hers another. We hit a point while making camp that night when neither one of us would budge. My method of picking a flat surface to set up the tent conflicted with her method. Maybe we were just tired. I don’t know why we got ticked off by this on this night. We had been so happy to be there. We were camping with good friends from church. It was going to be a great night…but…we both hung on to our way as the “right” way. It quickly brought on a rush of emotional water like being downstream when the Corp of Engineers opens all the gates on the dam at Rock Island.

After almost an hour of talking, we were exhausted and getting nowhere. My Honey tried one more time in the verbal chaos to explain what she was feeling. I listened carefully to her word picture. She talked of what our life could look like if we focused on doing this a new way—our way. She reminded me what it was like when I first joined the department I’m in now at work. I had experience and expertise that got me promoted but my way of doing things from the old department couldn’t be used here. Most of what I knew and had done was transferable but I had to work with my new team mates and develop our way of doing things. There was nothing wrong with my way and there was nothing wrong with their way. We just had to have a new way developed to get things done that would work for everybody.

I slowly got excited! A clear understanding was emerging as the fog lifted. This was a business…the business of love. It was not an indictment of me or my methods when she didn’t want to just do it my way! I wasn’t rejecting her when I didn’t want to do it her way. God was inviting us to a deep relationship as husband and wife achieved by developing a new way called “our way”—taking parts from each of us and making something completely new—a mosaic made up of both of us beautifully reflecting Gods light.

This water shed moment is one we will never forget. Every thing has become “before Natchez Trace” or “after Natchez Trace.” It was that significant when we learned to create OUR WAY.

Leaves on the roof of our big tent; view from our sleeping pad
Leaves on the roof of our big tent; view from our sleeping pad

Collaborative Camping

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Yesterday, I got to tell you about out first night in a tent. I described how we got used to night noises and the fun day we had afterwards to balance out our emotions.

I saved the lesson about collaborating for today. We fought and made up prior to the test run in the tent and here is how it went down…and back up.

I thought that I was the teacher. I expected to explain the parts of the tent and the process and she would watch and learn. I would do most of the work to set up the tent and she would help as I guided her. My experience included setting up many different kinds of tents. I wanted to be appreciated for my knowledge, demonstrate my skill and have a little assistance on the task.

So when I said, “Would you help me?”, it didn’t really mean give me advice. Now, my Honey is an out loud verbal processor. She takes in data and turns it every which way, asks questions and offers ideas that occur to her from this process as they occur. In this environment, where I thought I was the authority, I was not prepared for this method of learning.

She began with “why this?” and “why that?” Then went on to “what if we did?” and “maybe we could try?” I was beside myself. I could not comprehend how there could be so much to talk about on such a simple process. In my opinion, I certainly did not have anything to learn and she would not stay focussed on my “right way to do it” long enough to learn. She was busy figuring it out in a way that worked for her. I did not realize at the time what she was doing and was quiet offended.

We had a little “intense fellowship” that spoiled the tent set up to be sure. She stopped talking altogether and I grew even more miserable with the silence. I did really want a conversation but I wanted it about how I was doing it so she could learn my method. What was I to do now? Within a couple of minutes I just stopped working, stood up straight and gently asked why she was silent. She said that she did not want to irritate me, but she had an idea worth sharing. I adjusted my attitude like a coal miner washing the soot from his face after a long day underground. I asked if she would please share.

What happened next was a God thing. She pointed to a place in the tent’s fly where the fabric was not tight and flat. She asked if it might leak there and wondered if maybe there was a clip or buckle or tie or something we could use to pull the fabric tight. I had my best attitude on and crawled in the tent to look. I expected to demonstrate that it was just the nature of this design. I stared completely stupefied at a clip right where she thought it might be nice to have one. I had never seen it before! I am still wondering if God just put it there to help me learn a lesson about communication and to save our future outdoor adventures from unraveling. I clipped it in place and eagerly crawled out to hold her close. I thanked her for her contribution and promised to work on being collaborative about learning to hike and camp together even when I felt I was the uncontested expert.

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Guys, your lady might want to just watch and assist as you guide her; she might want to just rest while you apply your trade; she might, however, be like my Honey and want to have her thoughts and ideas valued and appreciated by you. If you are not sure what approach is best for her, just ask. I know my Honey appreciates it when I consider what will work for her.

You might find that collaborative camping finds culmination in considerable cuddling…like it did for us that day.

Celebration after Struggle

IMG_2027Our 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.

ALPS 1.5 man tent-about 4 lbs
ALPS 1.5 man tent-about 4 lbs

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.IMG_2054

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.IMG_2058

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.