Elmer’s tent

Even my overactive imagination could not invent this story. This is my version of abundant life – a fun true story to celebrate the first day of summer arriving at last:

I’ve only been camping once, and I didn’t even make it through an entire night under the stars. My friend Michele (one “L”, so you can tell us apart) suggested that we take our kids camping, just us two moms. Our husbands were busy working, and our respective summers had hit that part in late July where the days move as slowly as hound dogs sleeping under the porch in Alabama. Camping would be a great adventure.

The campground was about 2 hours from home. Since I come from non-camping stock, I had a little cooler and some sleeping bags. Michele had the rest of the goods, and told me she was going to use this trip as an excuse to purchase a nice big tent. Some man named Elmer was selling his late 1940′s-vintage Sears tent for a song. (The song was “I’ve Been Held Hostage In Elmer’s Damp Basement Since He Bought Me in 1948″.)

It was in the low 90′s that day, with soup-thick humidity levels. We pulled the tent out of the box only to discover that (surprise!) – it had a bit of dry rot, and some of the pieces didn’t quite fit together like the yellowed directions said they would. We piled the kids into the car and headed to the nearest town to buy some duct tape. This little trip turned out to be a good thing, as we would be driving the route again a few hours later under vastly different conditions.

The duct tape did the trick, and Elmer’s tent stood majestically in the pines, enjoying what might have been its maiden voyage in the great outdoors. We went for a hike, and it was about then that some of the kids (OK, they were mine) began to melt down. It was hot and buggy, and everyone was a little ragged from the mystery and creativity it took to erect Elmer’s tent. We headed back to the campground as the sky turned that florescent gray-green of a fierce summer thunderstorm. The eight of us headed into the tent to wait it out.

Then the tornado sirens sounded. There was an announcement over a distant loudspeaker telling us to evacuate the campground, but we couldn’t understand where we were supposed to go.

So we got back into the car and headed into…
(wait for it)
(wait for it)

…the path of the oncoming tornado. It reminded me of that part in the The Wizard of Oz where all sorts of stuff flew past Dorothy after she got bonked on the head, just before she landed on the green chick. We made it to town, and found a diner with open doors just up the street from the hardware store where we’d purchased the duct tape. There was a handful of people sitting in the dark, listening to a battery-powered radio and waiting for the storm to pass. We joined them.

When an “all-clear” sounded, we walked outside to see downed tree limbs and roof shingles…and roofs themselves…all over the place. The town was a mess. We drove around, saying “Whoa” a lot, then headed back to the campground.

You guessed it.

Elmer’s tent was still standing.
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About Michelle Van Loon
  • Pastor D

    Folks who find the need to “escape” the stresses of life via camping only to set up their digs next to a guy by the name of “Bubba” who thinks it’s cool to dress his site with Christmas lights need to find another way of recharging their batteries. But again that’s just my opinion! Welcome Summer!

    On it goes…

  • Michelle Van Loon

    I wonder if Bubba plugs those Christmas lights into a generator to keep `em lit.


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