Going on a long trip without first trying out all the new gear and processes is risky at best so we decided to go for a short day ride, camp over night, and return home the next day. Despite being a short trip, it would give us a chance to try out our equipment as well as experience camping first hand since it had been over 20 years since I camped :-o. Though we had pitched the tent in the backyard, fired up the stoves and gone through our checklist of items to bring it’s not the same as actually camping.
Our departure was delayed a day by severe weather. Our destination for the day was Garner State Park about 150 miles west of Austin. The weather was beautiful, lots of sunshine without being too warm – maybe mid 70’s to low 80’s. We arrived Sunday afternoon around 14:30 at the campsite. Setting up camp was uneventful, so far so good. Likewise, preparing dinner went smoothly, no items missing, no disasters or first aid required ;-). Despite some noisy partying neighbors we had a good time. I think we surprised ourselves how much we enjoyed just sitting outside, relaxing and taking it easy.
The unpleasant surprise came the next morning – major condensation on the inside of our REI Half Dome 4 tent. So much condensation in fact that it dripped off the fly sheet and dampened Diane’s sleeping bag to the point of getting the down filling wet. Not only was it inconvenient but it could seriously impede the performance of the sleeping bag since wet down is no longer a good insulator. By the time we had finished with breakfast most of the tent was dry but the sleeping bag was still wet. We packed everything up and headed home. Our short outing was a success though now, after reading some more about our tent, the prospect of finding another tent loomed large.
To understand why it ‘loomed large’ you need to understand that I/we expended a significant amount of effort in finding a tent that suited us. This was back in August of last year. Having found the four person REI tent was a big relief. Wait, you say, did he just say ‘4 person tent’? Yes, the manufactures ‘rating’ may fit four midgets sleeping on their sides but not two adults and all their riding gear. We tried numerous 3 person tents (pitched indoors) that were cramped once you put in two sleeping bags, a dry duffle, riding gear and helmet – boots stayed in the vestibule. In fact, most of our tent shopping was done online so the UPS man had regular stops for drop-offs and pick-ups (sending tents back) at our house.
I was not looking forward to going through that process again, especially this close to our planned departure date. This was unexpected and threw us for a loop…but that’s material for a separate ‘tent’ post…
In the meantime, enjoy some of the pictures we took at Garner State park as well as London, TX which we drove through as we took the back roads back home to Austin.