COLUMN: A cool reception for another ‘brilliant idea’

In an attempt for a more manageable camping experience, PAN columnist Nick Greenizan decided to add an air conditioner to his tent.

When it comes to camping, I like to think of myself as something of an innovator.

A few years ago, in advance of a camping trip with some friends, I decided that rather than spend another hot Okanagan night in a tent, I would design a far-too-elaborate wooden bed and storage structure that I could slide into the back of my SUV once the seats were folded down.

I bought some cheap patio-furniture cushions to put on top of the wooden platform and – voila! – I had myself a motorhome. Never mind the problems – the bug screens I bought to cover the open windows that routinely slid off, or the fact that, even with open windows, it was like sleeping in a sauna.

And then, of course, there were some pesky issues getting in and out of my new, but cramped, luxury accommodations. It was even tougher at night, especially when your one-and-only flashlight has fallen between the seats. (Let’s just say a few knees and foreheads were bumped over the course of a few nights.)

But again, if we disregard all those non-issues – and I do – it was an ingenious, well-executed plan.

Of course, most of my friends disagreed with me. I received a few sideways glances, and a few people wondering why I was too lazy to just take 10 minutes to set up a tent.

The truck-to-motorhome conversion lasted just that one summer. The next time out, I brought my tent with me.

And I’ll have it with me again this weekend, when I be venture out with some friends on a four-day trip. Only this time, I’ve made a few improvements.

Like I said, I’m an innovator. (In fact, I described myself to a friend as the ‘Thomas Edison of camping’ after coming up with my latest plan.)

This year, faced with the prospect of temperatures in the high-30s – and with seeing many of my camping mates pull up with air-conditioned trailers – I decided to add air-conditioning to my tent, too.

It was easy, really. An old air-conditioner, some cardboard, more than a little duct tape, a bit of old-fashioned ingenuity and about 100 feet of extension cords.

Air-cooled paradise.

And just like two yeas ago, I was again met with skepticism.

“Good lord,” texted one friend, when I sent her a picture of my handiwork.

“You can’t be serious,” said another. “Why don’t you just rent a trailer?”

It’s criticism I imagine some of the world’s greatest visionaries also received through the ages – just imagine the text-messages Sir Isaac Newton received from his friends when he tried to tell them about gravity.

Truth be told, it should never have come to this.

I believe it was about this time last year that I wrote, in another Peace Arch News column, that I’d finally had enough of tenting, and was going to buy myself a trailer. You know, something with all the creature comforts of home.

It didn’t happen, of course. But until a week ago, I was set to borrow a tent trailer from a friend. At the last minute, however, due to circumstances neither of us could control, it became unavailable.

My understanding wife – who camps only because she knows I love it, and because I’d promised her finer accommodations this time – was understandably crushed at the prospect of spending another scorching hot weekend sans trailer.

But necessity is the mother of invention – and I didn’t want to disappoint my wife more than I normally do – so I came up with my plan, naysayers be damned.

So, we’ll see how it goes. It could work beautifully, making me the envy of all my friends. Or it could blow up in my face, and I’ll be forced get a trailer in time for next summer.

Either that, or I’ll have to come up with another brilliant idea. Pass the duct tape.

Nick Greenizan is the sports reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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