We went camping this past Labor Day weekend. I took Friday off and we headed out that afternoon to a local Lake 40 minutes away. It turned out to be not one of my better ideas.
Oh it started out great. The weeks building up to the camp out were spent buying stuff we needed from Amazon and Walmart. Pretty much everything you see in the pictures accompanying this article are brand new except the ice chest. I swear.
Excitement grew as I looked forward to using all the cool stuff we had bought, including a portable 300W solar generator I was going to use to power our two new box fans at night.
So what went wrong?
Mistake #1 – Thinking we could overcome the Texas sun and the humidity during early September. You’d think after 35 years in this area I’d know that camping during the months of July, August and September does not work in Texas.
It was 90 degrees on Friday afternoon with humidity in the upper 70% while my son and I labored to put up the “16 person” tent plus the 13×13 foot canopy, and then lay out all the camping paraphernalia. It was torturous heat and I had to take a number of breaks due to various physical ailments. At one point I queried my son whether he knew the fundamentals of CPR. I could not have done this by myself and barely did it with my sons help.
In reality the “16 person” tent fits 3 queen size cots with blow up mattresses with extra room to spare. It’s huge, which was Mistake #2. We should’ve brought smaller tents. This was overkill.
Once the tent and canopy were up, we ate sandwiches for dinner and enjoyed a a nice breeze while the sun went down. My son took our grandson to try his hand at fishing and we were lured into a false sense of accomplishment with this camping thing.
There was a nice breeze into the evening and we decided to call it a night around 10:00 pm. That’s when we experienced what can only be called Hell’s Tent Oven. The breeze we were enjoying out side the tent did not transfer into the tent. Even with every window opening fully unzipped there was nothing but stagnant, hot, humid air. The box fans that I thought were going to run all night on the portable generator were only going to do about 2 hours. Mistake #3 was buying a small 300W generator before realizing the box fans wattage was going to suck it dry in less time than it would take to fall asleep.
So there we lay, our bodies sweating and not in a good way. About 3 hours into tossing and turning I succumbed to sleep due to exhaustion but was awoke at 4:00 am due sounds and bodily function needs. Trying to get back to sleep after my piss was hampered by a goose (yes a goose on the lake) who thought it would be cute to honk throughout the night. Once again I succumbed to exhaustion only to awake to the cry of a baby (yes a baby) from the tent next to us. I don’t blame him for crying, the heat was stifling. And the goose was still there. I fell asleep (but not soundly) for a couple more hours.
As we gathered that morning, no one would say it but we were all thinking it. There is no way we wanted to try and sleep another night in Hell’s Tent Oven. Finally, I spoke and said let’s cook breakfast, cause I at least wanted to break in my new Coleman stove and griddle, hang about a bit, then cook burgers and hot dogs on the Coleman stove for lunch and then get the hell out of this heat.
So that’s what we did. Then we spent a good two hours packing shit up in the 90 degree sweltering heat and humidity. It was a repeat of the set up. I had to stop and sit many times due to physical issues with the heat. All in all from leaving the house to getting back to the house was 24 hours. I felt sweaty and gross so when we got home we hit the swimming pool hard. Turns out we also saved ourselves from dealing with a severe thunderstorm that moved through the camp site an hour after we left, drenching the whole area.
That night I went to bed 2 hours earlier than normal in my nice comfy bed with the A/C set at 76 and the ceiling fan on medium. Ahhhhh.
So what did we learn? No matter how manly you think you are, don’t tent camp in Texas during July, August and September. It’s brutal and unforgiving. This 24 hour endurance exercise reinforced our plans to purchase a travel trailer.