According to the The Knot, a website dedicated to all things wedding, the traditional gift for 10 years of marriage is made from tin or aluminum. Pliable yet strong, these materials represent the flexibility that comes with a long-lasting relationship. We suggest they add 30 days of nomadic tent camping to the approved gift list – the so-called “gift” you give yourselves.
It’s been 4 weeks and 7,000 miles of 10T-iversary. With a heart set on wildflowers, we high tailed it to Arizona’s Sonoran desert to see the Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cacti budding, but not yet bloomed. Along the way we unearthed a sterling silver ring in a convenience store in a town called Why made by a Native American with art in the Smithsonian. According to The Knot, silver is an iconic jewelry material, and it’s particularly appropriate for this milestone occasion because it’s the same color as tin, but a more luxurious alternative. So glad The Knot would approve.
From the Sonoran we camped our way through the Colorado desert of Southern California at 1,000,000 acre Anza Borrego State Park. The wildflowers were in bloom, maybe not in Superbloom, but we did get some super stunning remote camping where the wicked wind bent our aluminum tent poles. The Knot might suggest a new four season high wind tent to commemorate the decade.
An anniversary weekend stopover between Coachella and Palm Springs gave us a yellow carpet of wildflowers at a wind turbine farm and an upscale taste of where the Angelistas escape to in winter. On the actual nuptials night, we camped at The Desert Rose Collective where tin, aluminum and various other scrap metals were strewn about for our 10T-iversary pleasure.
Not deterred by bent poles, we tented in the Mojave at Joshua Tree and the Great Basin in Death Valley, exhausting high heat, gusty wind and B-B-B Bennie and Jerks. We experienced a sound bath in a time machine made of wood with song bowls made of crystal. Even though they weren’t tin or aluminum, George Van Tassel, the architect and builder of the Integratron who lived under Giant Rock and spoke with aliens was likely wearing a tin hat, so we think that counts.
We traded Desert sky for Rocky Mountain High, which also came with a blizzard through Vail Pass, dinner with newlyweds and gift of 8 tins of Wee Heavy, Sheri’s favorite beer. Einstock! Ice cold Einstocks were still no match for ice cold overnights.
Dodging frontal lows and tornado watches, we skirted contentious weather patterns on back roads from Colorado to Louisiana. According to The Knot and Hindu Tradition, a rainy wedding is the sign of a lasting marriage, but sleeping in a tent with tornadoes in the area is the sign of two people doing something stupid, even if the poles are made of 10th anniversary aluminum.
On the final stretch we succumbed to nostalgia, revisiting our favorite Covid quarantine campsite at Lake Harmon on Barksdale Airforce Base in Shreveport, LA. It was a process to procure the combination lock code to get to the eastern hunting and fishing reserve, plus the afternoon storms had left the ground wet and mosquito-y. But when the evening sun broke through and massaman curry was simmering on the stove, we revisited our pandemic blogs, reminiscing about a broken leg, his and her haircuts, new friends and wearing recyclable grocery bags as face masks.
When a tent spot opened up in the sold out Florida State Park panhandle at Blackwater River State Park, which it rarely does, we snagged it online and pushed the pedal for 600 miles to beat the sunset. Unfortunately The Patterson’s laid claim to site Titi 25 and we were turned away until our actual reservation mistakenly made for the next night. Deflated, the Ranger suggested primitive camping near the river. “It can get loud and rowdy,” she said, “but if you don’t want to get a hotel is probably you’re only option.”
SIDE RANT (Let’s stop worrying about Disney’s business practices and fix the camping problem in Florida instead. EVERY site is sold out between November and May. The only time a Floridian can find a camping venue in the Sunshine State is when the temps and humidity are both in the upper 90’s.)
At Blackwater, a half mile down a rutted red dirt road is parking for primitive camping and meet up for Saturday night bros, brews and bon-fires. We set up the kitchen while assessing the possibilities of sleeping in a crowd and got our asses bit by Blackwater mosquitos and our ears thumped by partying panhandle teens. The Knot advises that if your wedding reception gets too rowdy, go ahead and make your big exit early. Good advice, so we did.
Two hours from the time we got busted on the reservation, we were racing down the very dark but higher speed I-10, 479 miles from home, wondering why Florida has to be such a long state. At 2 am, as we pulled into the giant hard-sided tent on the cul de sac, the temperature hung at 72 degrees and not one side of the cinder block tent was flapping in any wind. Inexplicably, there were three full bathhouses all within steps of the elevated and ridiculously thick sleeping pad. The temperature inside the block tent was a constant 70 degrees in low humidity. There was no need for skull caps or fleece. The walls of the structure were so thick it was impossible to hear trains, traffic, other campers on the street, wind or weather. How do people live like this?