Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to tarp your campsite

They used to call me the "tarpmeister."

Mind you, that was a few years ago, and I'm not sure anymore who "they" were. Probably that pack of relatives who got all moralistic the time I gave Junior the green light to raid random beer coolers around the  campground.

But that's another story.

I will admit that my tarping jobs in recent years have fallen short of my own high standard.

But oh, if you could have seen the glory we lived under this past week!

Last winter the Farm Manager bought an old Rockwood camping trailer from a Kijiji advert. We've been tenters all our lives, and I'm not sure what possessed her to make this move, but I confess I did go along with it at the time, so it would be uncouth to whine about it now.

My first challenge was getting the lights to work. Did that the day before we left. When I say "the day," I mean all day.

The old Ford 150 has had the vehicle end of my trailer wiring hanging off the back bumper for several years, through rainsleetsnow and mud year after year.

For some reason it didn't work.

The FM did drive a pretty good bargain on that camper, but it had one flaw. And kudos to the previous owners for 'fessing this; it leaked under certain conditions.

Like rain.

We're heading up to Chutes Provincial Park hard by Massey. They've had rain there before. According to the FM, they will again.

I always figured people get trailers when they're too old and decrepit to climb those trees and fix a proper tarp. That ain't me. But now I have a trailer and I still have to fix a tarp?

Part of the problem with my vehicle wiring is that I'm pretty sure my dear daddy hooked it up years before he sold me the truck. Dad has his own way of doing things. I don't knock it because generally it's worked out OK.

At least for him.

After a whole lot of sleuthing I had it down so that when you hit the left turn signal on the truck, you also get the left turn signal on the trailer!

Anyway, I'm going camping with the Farm Manager, and there is a reason she is the "manager." She has been telling me for months that we need to tarp it. I find a 15 X 20 tarp that should do the deal.

Chutes is a park we've been to many times. There are many reasons not to like it; too close to the Trans-Canada Highway, too close to town, not near enough to big water...

As we were passing through the town of Espanola, an OPP cruiser pulled in behind us and stayed there for a good ten minutes, through numerous turns and stoplights.

There can be no finer vindication of your wiring repair job!

But here's the secret when you camp at Chutes; campsites 92 to about 96 are close enough to the falls that you never hear town sounds or Trans-Canada truckers pulling the air brakes. The sound of that water cascading over those falls just drowns out everything else.

So we had site 92 this year, and it lends itself quite readily to a 15 X 20 tarp. And baby, did I get that tarp up there!

With the trailer you have to get the tarp a good four feet higher into the trees than you would with a tent. Back in the day I would have just climbed those trees. That inevitably leaves you with pine tar all over you.

Here's the shortcut; a claw hammer. I happened to have a 24 oz Estwing that's been lying around in the truck for years. You wrap the rope around the head, toss that puppy over a branch ten feet over your head, tie it off, and you're good to go!

But be cautioned; this can be a dangerous undertaking. The downward trajectory of that 24 oz hammer can be darned unpredictable. Best to move any youngsters out of the immediate vicinity. Even then you have to be on your guard; nothing says "dorkshit" louder than tossing a hammer up in the air and having it come back and give you a concussion.

Chutes is called that because back in the log-drive days, when the white settlers were raping the old-growth forests that the original inhabitants had managed to coexist with for thousands of years, they used to build "chutes" around or over the many waterfalls.

Chutes Park today is where one of the bigger log chutes stood on the Aux Sauble River.

That tarp ended up square over the trailer, and when I say "square" I mean even when you stood 50 feet back you could see that the edge of the tarp was perfectly parallel to the edge of the trailer's hard-top. And those extra few feet of tarp on the width side came out perfectly over the Farm Managers cooking console!

It was, as God is my witness, the most perfect tarp job of my life!

...and we didn't have a single drop of rain for the entire week we were at Chutes.

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