Three motorhomes on my own and I have progressed (?) to a tent again. Everything comes full circle. The last time I tented was during the two-week Yukon River wilderness canoe trip (RVing Alaska and Canada) in 1996. I put up the new light-weight nylon tent three times in my Arizona room before packing it for the trip, just to prove to myself I could do it alone.
If you haven’t driven up Monitor Pass on California Highway #89 through Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, you have missed some fantastic alpine scenery, not to mention hairpin curves and narrow roads. I’ve driven it with a 27’ motorhome towing a car but I wouldn’t advise it with anything bigger or if you are apprehensive about mountain roads. The little Cavalier didn’t mind at all. Although I had packed all of AAA’s (excellent) camp books, I more or less just followed my inclination.
I pulled down into a small national forest campground and paid the $7 with a Golden Age Pass. Living in the desert for a while now, I had forgotten the wonderful fragrance of pine trees and pinecones (and the sticky stuff that holds them all together!). I had to park quite a ways from the site but couldn’t resist being only a few feet from the stream. The wind was more gale force than inside my AZ room. With no rocks within reach, the Tide bottle anchored the ground cover. I wondered why I was carrying that huge thing.
As the wind and I fought to see who would win this tug of war, I read about the sixth line down on the directions that said it is much easier to have two people putting up the tent. Duh! Nice if they had included that on outside of the box. Hmmm. I hold on desperately while the wind tries to blow me and tent and the ground cover into the stream. Finally got all tent corners anchored, gust tries to move it again. Must have zipper opening in front to reach center to hang both poles. Long arms would also have been nice. Must talk to my Maker about that. I unfold all the short poles and fasten them together to make two very long poles that I desperately try to keep upright while I put the end of each one into the required holders. I snap all tent fasteners to poles, a little crooked. Before I put fly on, I put lawn chair front into tent to hold it. Put smaller poles through holders on each end of fly and try to figure out where they go. Think I got it. Fly has four inside Velcro tabs to fasten to each tent pole. Did this – mostly succeed. Fasten each corner of fly to round thing holding tent corner poles. Stake out the fly with dull end of very sharp axe. Looks great. Wind dies down. Then I realize I have the fly on backward. Too tired to change.
A blue jay scolds me the whole time – easy for him to criticize. Finally got the inside cloth down (too big) and pumped up my bed and put everything inside that I needed. The Forest Service required that I put everything that was smelly or fragrant inside a nearby bear-safe container, food, cosmetics, etc. I figured that was just about everything I brought for the next four months, and myself, and I was so tired, I just drove the car inside and slammed the door. (Just kidding).
I didn’t fix a fire, too windy, and I didn’t cook, didn’t want to temp the bears. Remembering that it is never darker than when in a national forest in the wilderness, I snuggled into my –30 sleeping bag and felt pleased with myself and the fact I had beaten nightfall as I listened to the stream rushing by. Please God, keep the bears somewhere else tonight. I was toasty warm. I looked at my watch. It was 5 p.m. and I was in bed.
God Bless until next time.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”