Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Camping + Chasing

I made a post regarding the topic of camping while storm chasing on my personal facebook page a couple weeks ago, because as time progresses I'm getting more and more gungho about camping in general, and specifically camping while on the road storm chasing. Several storm chasers I know have done this, and for some it was simply the only way they chased. Most of them cited getting older and having more disposable funds to pay for a hotel at the end of the night as the reason they do it less now, or not at all. But hey, I'm a broke student and the idea of roughing it sounds like a blast, so it seems I'm in the prime for getting started.

Wisconsin is what started this all off. There is plenty of space to sleep indoors up there, but this summer I said the hell with indoors, I'm sleeping outside. Tia as always was a sport and humored me on this one knowing how bad the ticks were this summer and that we'd be in the 90s during the day. I promise I vocalize my appreciation for her every single day. We ended up borrowing a tent from her family and were on our way. It ended up being a blast for the most part. The only stumble if you will, was on the final night when a thunderstorm complex hovered around the area. I initially said we'd be fine (and we ended up being just that) but in laying there awake surrounded by little pieces of heaven with the wind blowing through the trees and frogs croaking down by the lake the lightning continued getting more vivid and the thunder a little louder each time. Eventually we decided to call it and head indoors. But first, out of consideration for Tia's family I decided that I wouldn't allow their tent to blow away in a storm and that we'd take it down before heading indoors. Not having contacts in and the dark of night made that a real treat, and Tia managed to get not one, but two ticks on her in that short time but we came out alive.

In the end, how can you really beat this? I posted it before, but here is Tia and my sleeping spot for the Memorial Day weekend:


But now, we're armed and ready. Over the summer I became more and more gungho about doing this more often, and in more places. I decided that I needed a tent of my own, and wound up picking up this sweet Coleman Sundome 4 for about 20 bucks cheaper than normal in a sale at Farm and Fleet here in DeKalb. I picked up a bunch of other camping odds and ends, and by the end of the trip I was armed and ready for some camping domination. Now, if only we were not plowing headstrong into winter. I should add I also ordered an all-terrain air mattress that received rave reviews. The all-terrain label really only suggests it's a little tougher against holes and leaks, but it was also given great comfort ratings. It didn't cost any more than the non-all-terrain, so why not?

My digs for spring/summer/fall 2011:



In becoming gungho for camping in general, I've been thinking more and more about the idea of camping while I'm on the road storm chasing. The price of hotels (hotels that won't make you queezy when you walk in the door, and wary to lay any part of your body anywhere) are a chase killer for a college student chasing primarily solo. I will easily talk myself out of wanting to take a risk on a distant day when it becomes an issue of "Can I make it back home without stopping overnight?" When the answer to that question becomes a 'no', you can add about 65 bucks to your chase price tag unless you manage to meet up with others and split the costs. That's not an assumption I want to make going into the day, however. If I can find somewhere to sleep for FREE, then the chase or don't chase decision becomes a lot easier. To some, it's not worth giving up a hot shower and a comfy mattress, but to me the change is not all that hard to make and in the end I'd almost prefer it this way. It should be obvious enough through my photos that not only do I love severe weather, but I love nature in general. I love the wide open. Okay, so it doesn't have to be wide open so long as I'm enclosed by walls of trees and other naturally occurring boundaries. Winter kills me because I can't get out there and away from civilization. I will never be a city dweller because I simply can not be around urbanization too long without going crazy. My cabin fever not only extends beyond the walls of my home, but to the outreaches of the last building on the edge of town. To be able to plop myself down under the open sky in mother nature's guest bedroom after a storm chase only brings the entire experience full circle.

There are a couple obstacles that come along with this idea, namely inclement weather. However, in the great plains it's generally fairly easy to drive 50 miles or so to the west beyond the threat area and be sleeping easy for the remainder of the night. Should a storm arise in the middle of the night where I lay, I can easily toss everything in my car and ride the storm out. Perhaps to some this seems nuts and beyond the worth of saving money, but to a college student's wallet who NEEDS to chase that moderate risk the next day, an extra two tanks of gas in my wallet is a necessity.

I don't know - I'm just getting more and more antsy for this coming spring and summer thinking about riding around all day looking at beautiful stormy skies, before plopping down a tent and falling asleep under a star filled sky listening to nature, and then waking up in the morning to the sun in my face before doing it all over again. Storm chasing aside, I'll definitely be hitting up the camping scene A LOT next warm season. What a freaking great way to explore the mid-west when the storms are absent. I'll just spend the winter getting more and more gungho and really annoying about my new found love for camping.

5 comments:

Adam L said...

Camping and fishing have always been my #2 when it comes to chasing. I go as much as I can. As a matter of fact I just went this past weekend all by my lonesome. Enjoy iy!

David Drufke said...

I think we have a Coleman tent similar to that one. It's a pretty good tent! 4 years of rainy camping, and its holding up well.

Andrew Pritchard said...

I was torn between a few different tents, but those Coleman tents had several reviews claiming to not have budged or leaked a drop in some pretty intense storms so I couldn't pass it up. I got the 7' by 9' model so it will be quite roomy when I'm alone, and yet big enough that there will be a good amount of room for two when Tia comes along.

mnwxchaser said...

Two different worlds to me. As much as I enjoy camping, the idea is to be as far off the beaten path as I can get. Unless I'm in the middle of Cherry County, I guess a cheap mom and pop $45 hotel is still going to bring a better nights sleep than being in some weird ass campground with the Griswolds and Cousin Eddie yucking it up until the beer runs out...wait, maybe that was Lucio and his buddies!

Kevin Lim said...

Hikers should bring their hiking gears and equipments. I always bring my hiking tent.