The Nova Trip
I am going down to NOVA for two musical events and several sort of mini-reunions.
I have never been to any of my “Official” reunions, though I may drop in on one of the next in the series. Partly this is because few of my best friends from high school were in the same grade or even attended the same school. Partly this is because they cost a lot of loot and are not even at the school. We are denied the sort of reunion we grew up thinking about, hearing about, and watching on the big (and little) screen. To me, these official functions seem more like conventions than reunions. I know I am not alone in this and some of our modern social media tools are helping to fix this. My class has a group on the Facebooks, and there are at least two gatherings a year organized that way. And, there is always some “unofficial” (less costly) gathering to coincide with the official convention gathering.
This weekend’s events are neat in that they revolve around a place and a band (or bands). This cuts down on the limitations of school and grade and allows people who cared about the same kind of stuff, and the same people, to come together. I like that. Truthfully, I was not crazy about the place nor many of the hangers-on. But I too had some special times there. And I too had some special people connected to that place. And so I also go to look, to listen, to imagine, to remember, and hopefully – to connect.
This will be only the third or fourth show I have been to since 1992 where I was not playing, or doing sound, or being a guitar tech or general roadie. It is always a little weird for me to try and simply relax and enjoy. I feel like I should be doing something. The levels are not mixed well, the sound is not balanced in the house, and that guy broke a string, but the dudes at the door made me check my leatherman, I forgot my flashlight, and I don’t have any extra strings in my bag! It can get a little tense…
I am also excited for reunions with some non-school friends. Lucas and I were looking forward to seeing our old pals and hitting some of the old trails. But he has some kind of stomach bug and will have to stay behind in PA. I don’t want to risk infecting those we visit. “Thanks for letting me and my dog stay at your house. Here’s a little special something we brought just for you!” I don’t think it is a real medical problem, just a stomach bug. But, we do our last walk between 10 and midnight. Two nights ago he woke me and my dad up at 4:00. This morning he got me up at 1:30 – two hours after the last walk. I am not complaining. It is not his fault and I am sorry he is suffering, but that is definitely not the kind of gift we want to leave behind…
Let’s segue into
Hiking Part III – Tent of Lucas
I got this wicked badass tent for Lucas last year. We did one hike up Crabtree Falls and on to the Priest Shelter. There had been thunderstorms forecast, but I looked at the weather and it seemed like your average Virginia summer thunderstorms – sweep in and dump water and sweep out. It rained for at least 12 hours. Lucas was not pleased.
I started looking into doggy tents as soon as we got back. There are many on the market. Few are actually designed for backpacking. REI has one that seems ok except the floor is not fully attached, so you are going to have water flowing through the tent – which defeats the purpose if you ask me. I found one that sounded good and was reasonably priced.
The tent itself is good. Nice solid construction. The side panels and the door work great. The flaws were obvious and immediate. It uses the fabric sleeve method for the tent poles instead of clips. I hate tent-pole sleeves. Feeding poles through fabric tubes makes me feel like I am not living in an era where we have sent men to the moon and miniaturized computers that are more sophisticated than those astronauts had down into the palm of my hand! Anyway, it is hard to feed the poles through these fabric sleeves.
Part of the reason it is so difficult is the second flaw with the tent. The poles are total garbage. They are super cheap and flimsy. I felt that right out of the package. I was actually surprised that they made it through the first trip without breaking. I set-up the tent indoors for a trial and to get Lucas used to it. I set it up in the woods for one overnight. And I set it up to clean it before I put it away for the winter.
The first time I set it up post-winter, about a week ago, two of the poles snapped. I went to EMS to discover that they do not have any kind of replacement poles. Later I took a road trip to the closest REI in Towson MD and discovered that they also do not carry replacement parts for poles, or replacement poles. I did get some great intel on a company that does make poles, and that may be the way to go.
One idea that I had (unfortunately a little late in this whole dog tent process) is to look at children’s tents. I bet that there are kid sized tents made by reputable companies that would fit the bill. And with our “protect the children” litigious society, I bet they would be decent quality. But, I am going to continue to explore fixing the one I have for now. The folks at REI had some good advice. Check out the used equipment sales. I can probably make the poles from any tent work with a few adjustments, so any inexpensive tent with decent poles would be good.
I did “repair” the existing poles with duct tape and set the tent back up and it held overnight without signs of over-stress. The question now is probably cost effectiveness. Is it better to get replacement poles, to cannibalize poles from a used or cheap tent, or to find a children’s tent that will work? I don’t know. Back to the research cave…
For those who may have been thinking, “why not just put the dog in your tent?” Good point. But, the last hike with all the rain is my counterexample. I love my dog and would do just about anything to protect him if it were necessary. But he was already soaked. I mean super soaked, by the time we got to camp. I had some dry clothes and gear, and could keep the tent and its contents dry. There was no way to dry off the dog. Inviting him in would not dry him, only wet me. Also, while Lucas is an affectionate creature, he doesn’t really like anybody messing with him while he sleeps. He will snuggle for a minute (or allow you to snuggle for a minute) and then he wants to go somewhere else and stretch out without you bein’ all up in his chili. So, that’s why…