Pauline Harte

Little glitches make the best memories

Pauline Harte · July 22, 1997

In his Sunday column last week, Tim Whyte, the managing editor of The Mighty Signal, told us about his new trailer tent, which replaced the canvas cell he had previously been using to incarcerate his badgered brood on "vacations."

Boy, did that bring back memories! And a few nightmares that have remained painfully vivid.

My two daughters were about ten and thirteen years old when I finally told the Marquis de Sade of Tents-R-Us fame (my husband) that WE HAVE HAD IT. We had tented in 117-degree weather, and we had tented in 20-degree weather with a wind chill factor well below zero. We had tented a quarter of a mile away from restrooms with no showers or hot water. And there were no cushy air mattresses under our sleeping bags, either.

"That would take all the fun out of it," the Marquis tried to convince us as we pursued our morning ritual of smoothing rock indentations out of our aching rear ends.

I must admit, though, that our kids always had a rousingly good time. But I was ready to move on to a higher plane. A more comfortable plane, to be exact. I was maturing. I was getting to that age when rock indentations weren't smoothing out as quickly as they used to.

Finally, the Marquis took pity on my tortured rear end and rented a motor home. This sounded like a great idea until we began loading this thing with every single item from the kitchen and bathrooms. By the time we finished stuffing that motor home, there was nowhere to sit, and Star, our very large, five-month-old puppy, was already munching on everything that didn't fit in the cupboards.

There were too many rats in this cage, and things were looking a little cramped. I asked the Marquis about sleeping arrangements.

"The kids will sleep 'up there' together and we will sleep here. This table opens up into a twin bed. Once we get all this stuff off of it."

Was he kidding? The kids were going to sleep TOGETHER? He was going to confine these two girls to a matchbox-size area three inches from the ceiling? Two girls who react like wounded water buffaloes when their elbows merely touch on the armrest in the back seat of our car? Hope really does spring eternal.

Star slept on top of us in our almost twin-size "bed," which was a good thing. She prevented us from dying in our sleep from hypothermia in the freezing weather, because the head didn't work, along with the oven, the refrigerator and the bathroom. The kids' skirmishes about touching elbows, toes, knees and other body parts kept the adrenaline circulating in their cubbyhole, and they, too, were saved from a freezing death, although I was real close to killing them myself.

Several hundred dollars to rent a motor home, and we once again found ourselves hiking to those distant but familiar restrooms with no showers or hot water. But we were more comfortable in our discomfort, if that makes sense.

Even that non-functioning motor home was infinitely better than a leaky tent perched on top of several thousand pointy rocks and several dozen fire-ant nests.

We weren't able to find half the stuff we packed, but the elderly owners of the little market on the lake were finally able to retire that weekend. The four trout that my husband finally caught ended up costing about $289 per pound.

Did we have a good time? You bet your hooks, lines and sinkers we did! Sometimes, it's the little "glitches" that make the best memories. And when it comes to camping, just call us The Glitch Family.

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