It was a helluva weekend. Beginning Thursday afternoon, heavy winds swept through the Rio Grande valley I awoke on Friday morning to find they were strong enough to tear a hole in the rainfly and collapse a corner of the tent.
Susie stitched it up and Len gave me a hand in trying to get it back over the tent, but the winds tore it again as we were holding it up. And where the first hole was only about 4″ x 5″, this one tore about 4 feet long, starting at where the original hole was located.
Not to worry … Len brought out a heavy duty tarp. First thing we did was put in some additional stakes. Len had some heavy duty stakes that made my so-called “heavy duty” stakes look like sewing needles! From there, we tied roping around the frame of the tent to keep it from collapsing. Then we anchored the tarp by throwing rope over the to hold it against the frame. Len said, “I’ve camped in Canada on the side of Storm Mountain – we didn’t lose a tent then and I’ll be darned if we lose one now!”
Of course, Len’s tent up on Storm Mountain wasn’t an instant-tent, geared for ease of setup rather than standing up against the next tropical storm. The next morning, Frank and I awoke to not just a collapsed tent – one of the tent legs had snapped completely in two! The wind had even created a 2-foot separation along on of the seams that went directly across the top of the tent!
The forecast called for a low chance of rain. I had removed most all the electronics from the tent already and put them back in the car. The only thing left inside was the cot, the bedding, the heater and the laptop, the latter two being under the cot just in case.
Len told me Tuesday morning that according to the weather report he saw the night before, the highest gusts that had gone through the valley were clocked at 71mph. From what I can tell you, the sustained winds seemed like they weren’t much lower than that! Here’s a short video I took inside the tent around 4pm on Sunday afternoon. It’ll give you a taste of what Frank and I were experiencing.
We experienced something else though. I made a pretty significant turn in attitude over the weekend.
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know how there have been a few things that I have been thrown for a bit of a loop over the course of our journey. They’ve required massive energy getting myself back under control, mentally and mood-wise.
When I stood there surveying the broken tent leg on Saturday morning, I went straight to the mantra – “It’s all worked out before; trust that it will work out again!” Frank patiently waited the 30 minutes it took for me to sit and collect my thoughts / continually repeat the mantra as I enjoyed some coffee. Then we started to go to work … which quickly came to an end.
I contacted Amazon, who told me that repair items could only be purchased from the company itself. I found the website for Core Equipment, but discovered their customer service / warranty department wouldn’t be open until Monday morning.
I’m proud to say that I didn’t obsess, or go into a panic. I was able to recognize that nothing could be done until Monday – any anxiety or anger or upset or any other negative emotion wasn’t going to do anything except take two days away from us. Soooo, we hunkered down to wait out the winds … which were still going on.
Len had already told me that it was okay for Frank and I to use the common room in the main building. He laughed and said, “If anyone gives Frank any static, you just tell them to see ole’ Len and I’ll set ’em straight!” Backtrack a bit … Frank and I had a great Christmas. I fixed a tuna salad, got Frank some treats and we watched the Warriors / Cavs game on the big TV. First time I’ve gotten to see them since before the playoffs ended last year.
So on Saturday, we sat for about an hour in the common room. There wasn’t much on TV, the winds were affecting the reception, and Frank couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to get up on the couch! (Len probably wouldn’t have minded, but I wasn’t going to take advantage of the situation. After an hour of that, I decided that Frank and I would just go back in the tent. If anything, we’d add extra ballast in case the winds uprooted on of the stakes (which it actually did as we were getting things set on Friday … we never did see where it landed).
Sunday was more of the same. We spent the day in the tent. it was cold and the heater provided only modest relief. Frank hunkered down in the sleeping bag, I put on my sweatpants, sat right directly in front of the heater and did a marathon viewing of “The Man in the High Castle”, seeing as how my data plan started over on the 26th. (Great series, by the way – “Wolverines”, meet “Lost”).
Monday morning, we awoke to eerie silence. It took me a while to wake up and realize that the winds had stopped! Things got even better from there.
Core’s customer service department opened at 8am and I was on the phone at the opening bell. I explained to Jennie, their rep, what had happened. She said the leg replacement was pretty easy. All it would take is sliding up a cloth sheath to expose the joint, removing a couple of philips head screws to loosen the damaged leg and then fastening back on the replacement. She also confirmed they’d be able to ship it overnight to the Motel 6 in Rockport, TX, since we were due to pack up and leave the next morning. (I’ve already removed the damaged leg and she was right – it was a “breeze” – pun intended!)
Next thing was cost. Core’s warranty expressly excluded damage from high winds. I knew I was going to be on the hook for this. The cost came out to about $70 … the overnight shipping was another $60. I explained my situation, and asked if there was any way they might be able to discount my cost.
Jennie went off to speak to her supervisor. After about 3 minutes, she returned to the phone and said, “My supervisor agreed to cover the cost of the leg and rainfly under warranty. You’ll have to pay the shipping costs though.” I couldn’t believe it! I thanked her, told her that was very gracious of them and was much more than what I was hoping for! This was a complete 180 degree turn from the customer service experience I had with Coleman, by the way.
I confirmed with Motel 6 that they’d be able to hold a package for my arrival the next evening and emailed their address to Jennie, along with photos of the damage for her files. Within an hour, I had shipment confirmation and a UPS tracking number.
“Things have worked out in the past; trust that they will work out again.”
I spent the rest of Monday getting the car packed up. By mid-afternoon, the only things left to pack were the cot, bedding tent carpet and tarp, and the things that rice in the carrier rack on top of the car.
Yesterday morning, Len and Joe came over to give a hand getting the tent taken down. We pulled the stakes from the ground, gathered the rope, removed the tarp and got everything packed. We left about 2:15, earlier than my planned 3pm departure.
I have to say, I hated leaving. Len, Susie and Joe made me feel like family. Susie and Len both said how much they were going to miss Frank. Frank’s funny – he knew we were leaving by all the activity going on. He went over and gave both Len and Susie big kisses and wistfully looked out the window at them as we were leaving. Later on, he started crying in the car a bit, which turned into a howling session. He’s a funny guy.
So here we are in the Motel 6. It’s Wednesday morning the day before New Year’s Eve. The replacement rainfly and tent leg were waiting for us at the front desk when we checked in around 6pm last night. I don’t know about Frank, but I was asleep before 7:30!
It’s dreary weather outside. This will be the first time we have to set up camp in rain. The ranger told me they were putting me in a wooded area to shield us from the wind coming off the bay. Hopefully that will provide some cover from the rain, too.
Frank’s laid out on the bed, soaking up as much of the mattress as he can before we’re back to the cot. We’ll be leaving as soon as this post is finished. I’m looking forward to getting into our new digs in time to catch another Warriors game tonight.
Happy New Year, everyone. It’s going to be an interesting 2016.