I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with tents. I loved them before they became part of my professional life. I hate them as part of the business plan.
My first memories of tents were the simplest. A tarp was hung over a collection bed along the Pecos River to protect us from a light downpour. Another time by the lake, a tarp just pulled us into our bedsheet on the ground on another night out under the stars with the other group of grandparents. This ended up being during a severe thunderstorm.
I remember making simple puppy tents with string, broom handles and a blanket to play under my grandparents’ mulberry tree. It might have shaded us and protected us from falling blackberries and bird droppings, but a cotton blanket wouldn’t have stood the rain for two seconds.
I bought a backpacker tent when I was a teenager. It was a puppy tent with short walls and a floor. Made from orange nylon with aluminum pole sections and metal stakes. It was easy to set up, even in the dark on a patch of ice. It was okay for shelter but not that great if it rains for more than an hour or so. On the plus side, this thin nylon has kept bears and mountain lions outside on many trips.
Some of my best backpacking trips have been spent in a hammock with my poncho strung on a string above me.
In my life as a chamber manager organizing events, I have lost count of the number of ephemeral shelters that we have seen being blown to the ground. Most of them are easy to assemble, but you can’t do it with one or two people.
We have had several ridge shade tents and I still have the poles or most of them in a closet; the tent fabric apparently went to Texas during the storm.
We used a heavier tent for years on Heritage Days and finally bought the thing to have it whenever we needed it. The poles are longer than my pickup bed and the thing comes together in sections with poles high enough that you can walk under the tent. When you put it together properly, it’s pretty stable in the wind, and it’s big enough that for a year we would put a whole bunch of bluegrass under a rainstorm. Best concert ever.
My biggest problem with this tent is when you only pitch it once a year it’s like a new experience pitching it. By the time you read this I will know if all the poles and stakes were recovered last year and if my mental capacity was able to lead his erection one more year.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: