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Posts Tagged ‘Tenting’

Bugged

P7270485Climbing Snowking Mountain this week involved the hottest buggiest approach I’ve ever experienced. Smartly, my friend Liz had brought her headnet. I have never worn one except on a 4-day backpack in the Talkeetnas in Alaska, and that one was borrowed. Watching Liz, I’m sold on the usefulness of it. If you can just know ahead of time what the bug factor will be.

The approach was biting black flies, but at the campsite elevation, the bug population switched to mosquitoes. We watched them swarm outside the mesh of the tent and were thankful we hadn’t gone with bivy sacks rather than the tent. The mosquitoes even came along on the climb the next morning – across the snow and to the rocky top. They  only disappeared towards mid-day, either it was too hot for them or their siesta time. We were thankful because that allowed us a much needed dip in a cold cold lake.

I kept wondering how I would have managed the incredibly buggy situation with my kids. Actually, I didn’t have to wonder that long. We’d have retreated. Much as I love being out, being bugged is just no fun.

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Camping Counts

p8170797I’ve been wanting to count our number of nights spent camping in 2008, even before 2009 kicked in. So I got out my calendar and my journal and started adding. Then I realized I needed to further define what I was counting. Just using a sleeping bag doesn’t count as camping, I decided, you need to be outdoors. When I decided nights-in-a-sleeping-bag didn’t cut it, I did not add the night we spent in a Mountaineers Lodge on Mt. Baker in February, the 2 nights Dana was in a cabin on her school’s outdoor education trip in June, the 4 nights at our friends’ cabin on Waldron Island or Noah sleeping on his friend’s boat in July, the kids’ sleepovers at our house or a friend’s, or the trojecito we slept in before climbing Paricutin. I did hesitate a little about the boat and the floor of the most rustic cabins.

I then decided every night in a tent counted, even the night we pitched ours in an unfinished house in Mexico. No electricity, no heat, no bathroom, with bare cement walls and floor? We’ll call it camping.

We did have an amazingly unusual year, with our 6-week bike trip (5 nights non-camping between staying with friends and a hotel in Los Angeles) and our September – January family sabbatical to Mexico, which included a month of traveling with backpacks and our tent. Check out our Traveling Simply blog stories if you want to hear more about that. I love tenting with my family, and I love sleeping out when bugs and weather allow, and I love that our total was 59 nights for 2008. Plus two more for me from my North Cascades backpacking trip pre-summer bicycle tour. Don’t know that we can break that record in 2009, but it’s worth tracking.

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Santa Comes to the Tent

pc250385An interesting aspect of spending the Christmas holidays in a tent on a beach in Mexico, is deciding how to tweak your traditions. We began with family discussion on what people’s expectations were. Or actually, we began before that by opening with “things will be a little different this year” and “we’re going to have to think small and simple here, don’t you think?”

At home we make snowflakes with scissors and white paper, but this year we made them out of shiny silver potato chip bags. We hung the snowflake art inside our tent and on the flowering trees near our tent. The other campers and staff at the area smiled. And the tropical sun glinted nicely off the silver.

Then we agreed that Santa would most likely leave little items in the gear loft. And that’s what happened. Although there were also notes there saying “look at the end of your sleeping bag,” where each kid found two books, one in English and one in Spanish.

We didn’t make a gingerbread house in December as has been our tradition for years, and we didn’t go to lots of holiday parties. We had a rather quiet family day, made sure we greeted people on the beach, and went snorkeling. Next year when we tweak our traditions, I think I’ll carry forward the silvery snowflake-making, wherever we are.

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