Wednesday, January 7, 2015
THE TEN DOLLAR TENT
Have you ever bought something on the cheap and had it last you for years and years? I bought a tent from my best friend Marc, back in the day, after high school. He had been in the Boy Scouts years before we were in high school. Anyway, he had this bright orange two-man tent that was held up by fiberglass poles. It was faded here and there, and had one or two little holes from being too close to the campfire at one time or another.
It was well used, and we had used it a few times on fishing trips up on the Gore Range. He was getting rid of it. He wanted 20 dollars for it. I knew that he had paid 40 dollars for it brand new, and that it was well over 15 years old. We talked, we haggled, I walked away. Then we haggled and talked some more. I finally talked him into selling it to me for 10 dollars.
I took my "new" tent home, put it up in the backyard at my grandmother's house. I bought a can of water-proofing and sprayed the bejeezus out of it, let it set for three days, and had to take it down so I could mow grandmother's yard. That weekend, I packed up and went fishing. Things were great, until I went to put up the tent. I forgot the poles.
Now, I've camped many a time and slept under the stars in all kinds of weather because I didn't have a tent or tarp. But, this time I had a perfectly good tent but no poles. So, I made do and got the tent set up anyway. Just as I was putting the last pole up from a old dead aspen tree, I heard a truck coming down the road. Guess what? It was Marc.
He had stopped by my grandmother's house and found out that I had headed up to do some fishing for the weekend. Grandmother had found these fiberglass poles laying up against the garage and wondered if Marc knew what they were for. Marc laughed and told her they were for my tent and that without them I would be hard pressed to get the tent up. Well, Marc went home and got his sleeping bag and fishing pole and drove all the way up to where I was camped.
I had the tent up with no fiber glass poles, but old aspen limbs. We spent the weekend fishing, laughing at how the tent looked with aspen branches. There were nights around the fire, and we were talking, smoking, looking at the stars, and listening to the night sounds of the forest. When we crawled into the tent to sleep, I thanked Marc for letting me buy his tent.
I used that tent for many a year. Just the summer before last, I gave the tent to a kid down the street. It was hard to give it away, with all the memories I had of using it all of those years. It was a tad more bleached out; the only part of the tent that was still bright orange was the floor. The same holes were still there. I never patched them. The kid had just joined the Boy Scouts and needed a tent. He was excited, and his dad came by and thanked me. They were a bit short on money, but he wanted his son to make the camping trip.
I'm sure that Marc was smiling down on me from heaven as the boy walked away with his "new" tent. I think with the memories I have, and the smile on that kid's face, it was the best 10 dollars I ever spent.