Dear North Trail Premier Tent,

Dear North Trail Premier Tent,

It was just a few moments ago that I set you up once again.  You have been with me for 15 years and you continue to stand strong.  You were my dwelling place for 5 seasons of tree planting, which automatically, due to my unseemly and overzealous nostalgia, puts you on the Vandersluys Heritage List.  There you will join that army surplus toque I wore all those years in the bush, as well as that second (or third?) generation tree planting shovel. You belong in those hallowed halls.*

I did some quick numbers in my head. Cumulatively, you were my primary residence for nearly a year. And all for only $175!  You kept me dry all those months.  You’ve  aged and seen some wear, but you are trustworthy. And wise. The zippers for your vestibule no longer work, but you bore the indignity of a door duct-taped closed when your main zipper went mid-season, and then you recovered quickly after zipper replacement surgery. Your zipper is stronger now than ever.  I would camp in you again in a second.

You housed not only me, but also countless mosquitos, gnats, flies and spiders–through no fault of your own–and perhaps even a mouse or two.  And remember that time up in Topley Landing when at 4:30 in the morning a medium-sized animal crawled into your vestibule? I poked it and prodded it through the tent door, hoping it (a porcupine? a large rodent of some kind?) would go away. In the morning I discovered that it was a puppy.  He lived with us for the rest of that contract.  Remember that?  You have been such a welcoming tent.

In my first year, I used to lose my contact lenses in the creases in your floor. I stopped wearing contact lenses then.  And then in my second year I got Beaver Fever–but I never vomited within your walls.  I may have spewed all over the bathroom door in the campground at Fox Creek, but I always managed to get out of you in time.

And then you comforted me–even though you could have done nothing to protect me–on those nights when storms raged or underbrush cracked in the boreal forests of northern BC and Alberta.  Those were the days.

You are too small for me to take my family camping, but you were our shelter when I gave my oldest daughter her first camping experience.  One day my children, when they are old enough to sleep in their own tents, will sleep in you.

My hat is off to you, North Trail Premier Tent.  You were worth every penny.

Hugs and kisses,

— Marc

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*Halls purely metaphorical.  No actual halls of the Marc Vandersluys Heritage Foundation exist.

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