Holy moly, it’s been over a month…I can’t believe I forgot to tell you about my tent!
Way back at the end of October, I told you that I bought a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 at an REI used gear sale for $80 instead of $370. I had actually been in the market for a UL1, but none were available at the gear sale. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep the UL2 since it was four ounces heavier (at 2 pounds 2 ounces), but some of you insisted that the greater amount of interior space would be more comfortable. At the time, I decided to come back to the UL2 and move onto other decisions.
Well, when I went to Virginia Beach for the winter holidays, I brought everything I would need for a night out. I hadn’t yet tried my tent or my sleeping pad and – considering how much I still have left to do to get ready – figured my mom’s backyard may be the closest environment to “wilderness” that I experience before I hit the trail.
The first couple of nights at my mom’s I slept in a cozy, comfy bed. When my mom asked if I’d be sleeping out, I kept saying, “Tomorrow, tomorrow.” Finally, seeing that the forecast would quickly turn sour, I kicked myself into gear on the Monday before Christmas. Since the tent had two inch-long gashes in it, I took these nifty round Tenacious Tape Patches that I’d bought at REI for a whopping $3.00 and sandwiched each hole in between a pair. The repair job left two dark freckles on the skin of the tent, but they held well.
I then blew up my new Big Agnes Insulated Air Core short mummy sleeping pad (weighing in at 18 ounces), which I’d purchased on super sale on REI’s outlet website for $50. What’s nifty about the Insulated Air Core is that the insulation is on one side, which means that flipping it to reveal the other side allows heat to escape on warmer evenings. And, by the way, did you notice I said a “short mummy”? I can go on and on about the benefits of being short (being able to shimmy undetected onto a packed Metro train is one of my favorites), but one of them is that I can use shorter/smaller/lighter gear. Not only does the Insulated Air Core short mummy accommodate the entire length of my body, but it’s also like a pound lighter than comparable versions for taller/bigger people. Yay for saving weight!
Finally, I set up the tent – rainfly and all – in the backyard and situated the sleeping pad and sleeping bag (20 degree North Face Aleutian 3s short mummy) inside. I then promptly went inside to be lazy again.
That night, much to my surprise, I got drunk…on ice cream. I’ve mentioned that my mom makes gourmet ice cream, often with alcohol. And I’m – shall we say – a fan. I was dipping a spoon generously into a container of Rum Raisin when my mom pointed out that she had soaked the raisins overnight in strong rum before mixing them in with the ice cream. She followed up by calculating that I’d probably consumed three shots of rum.
I’m a lightweight. That’s a lot of rum.
“I’m going to go take a quick power nap on the couch. I’m skilled at taking power naps. I wake up after ten minutes on the dot.”
I’m never going to live that statement down. After a couple of REM cycles, I woke up at about 12:30am. In my stupor, I decided to go outside to go to sleep. I mean it made all the sense in the world. I had set the tent up to sleep in it, didn’t I?
I shoved my feet into a pair of old slippers and made my way outside. I slept pretty well, waking up once to hear rain gently beating off the sloped walls of the tent. Then, at about 7am, the neighbor’s dog saw a huge hump-backed monster in the yard and proceeded to bark his head off. That was pleasant.
Having served my purpose, I shimmied out of the sleeping bag, unzipped then re-zipped the tent, and went inside. I felt pretty good about my experience with the tent and pad and my night’s sleep and thus considered those items thoroughly checked off my list. I was reading the newspaper for a while before my mom thought to say, “You may want to fold up your tent before the yippy dogs from next door pee on it.” Ah, yes, good point.
I might not have been in the middle of the woods, but suburbia has its dangers too.