We’re going camping this weekend. Just a couple nights in Limpopo Province, so I can finally see that big ol’ baobab tree with a bar in it where we originally planned to celebrate my birthday back in September. But with everything on that September trip list, we just didn’t make the baobab.
We’re decked out with camping gear now. With all the places we want to visit before we move on from here, we knew we couldn’t afford to keep paying for lodges and hotels everywhere. We love tent camping, and the money we save by paying for a simple campsite far exceeds the time and extra work involved in “roughing it.”
As people were moving back to the states this year, I made many hasty purchases, scrambling together a hodgepodge of items. We now have a variety of second-hand chairs, tents, a braai box (packed with cookware, tableware, linen and spices), mats, sleeping bags, and assorted “gadgets.” Kurt says knowing how overeager I get on preparing for our trips, he’s pretty sure the kitchen sink is in there somewhere, too.
The highlight of what I bought is what we call our “tent mansion.” In addition to the five-man-standing room inside with a netted moon-roof for viewing the stars, it has a large covered outdoor area, which could either be a patio shelter or, as we keep joking, a carport.
It wasn’t the only tent I bought, though. I thought it was better to buy first, and let Kurt decide later which to keep and which to re-sell. But since several friends have promised (you know who you are!) to visit over the next year, we decided to have a “guest tent.” After all, they’re paying to fly to Africa, the least we can do is provide a real (cheap!) bush experience for them as part of their trip!
Maybe having a fancy mansion tent and guest tent means we’re moving up in the world. In the early years of our marriage, it was the two of us in a little pup tent, on grand road trips to see America. There was always bread, and plenty of peanut butter and jelly to last the trip. We got caught in a tornado near Abilene, Texas, were stalked by a wild dog near an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and spent more than one night sleeping in the car for reasons ranging from bears, to hail too big for our tent to handle.
We graduated to nicer tents as the years went by, but nothing we’ve had in the states is as huge as this tent mansion. We won’t be taking it back with us, but we will be taking back plenty of ideas, and creating our own braai box back home.
It’s supposed to be cold and rainy this weekend, so I guess we’ll get to test out the weatherproofing on the tent, and the cold ratings on our bags. We’re excited anyway. Camping in the rain feels like home. 😉 Since it’s a short weekend, we’re taking the guest tent this trip, so it will be ready for your visit! I was a little bummed, because I really wanted to try our tent mansion, especially with that weather-shelter patio!
Speaking of tent mansions, I was recently in Outdoor Warehouse here in Pretoria, checking out their tents. I texted Kurt a photo of the tent with cots, but he nixed that idea.
I spent a couple hours in that store, wandering the aisles and drooling over camp showers and toilets, mosquito-netted picnic tents, and all manner of doo-dads, whatsits, and safari wear.
But in the end, a mat was my only purchase—acknowledgment of this annoying arthritis that just doesn’t enjoy the ground as much anymore. It feels so grand, this bulky mat for under my sleeping bag. It feels like we are gentrifying our great outdoors a little bit. But it’s just a simple mat, not the grand Hilton of tents in that store, some so decked out that they actually did include the kitchen sink!
Compared to our early years, this camping feels so stylish we may as well own an RV! And if it’s not bad enough that we feel like we’re splurging with our fancy tents and ground mats, Kurt’s septuagenarian parents still travel cross country with nothing but bread, pb&j and a couple gallons of water, sleeping in their car.
Do you tent camp?