There I am–minding my own business at the strip mall post office (sending Security Freeze requests to the three credit reporting agencies).  That accomplished, and with Eastern Mountain Sports just across the car resting area, I saw nothing wrong with a quick stroll through their aisles.  What could go wrong?  I need nothing and want less (so I thought).  As I step through the door, I see a sale table.  Two green nylon stuff sacks are waiting there.  For me?  Tag on one says Hubba Hubba and the other says Gear Shed.  Both are marked used and are offered at one-half retail.  Know me?  Then you don’t need to look ahead to the picture below to know where this went.  At least the tent and vestibule pack small (they won’t take up much room in our house as they wait to get used).  How much longer until summer?

Silliness.  See, Lacey and I both came to our marriage with tents.  Symmetrical dowries, in this regard.  Lacey contributed an EMS dome.  Me, a Eureka Timberline.  Both are well used but perfectly fine.  Hasn’t stopped me, over the last five years, from wanting the very MSR tent that I was now holding in my hands.  Just as I am getting all misty forming adventurous dreams, the salesperson approaches offering help.  I ask for confirmation that this is the two person model.  It is.  I ask why they are selling used gear.  He says it is probably a return and we should set it up and confirm everything is there and the condition acceptable.  We do just that.  Everything is there and the tent appears to be unused.  Sold!

Got home and managed to make and eat lunch before setting up the tent again, but you can bet it was together minutes after I washed my dishes.  The tent went up quickly and easily, but my heart sank as I was attaching the fly.  Some connectors seemed to be sewn incorrectly.  One half of each of the four ring and post connectors was on the inside of the fly and the other was on the outside.  What?  How do you secure the fly to the poles unless both halves of the ring and post connectors are on the underside of the fly?  This must be why the tent was returned.  All sales final on used stuff.  Shoot!  Think man!  I could cut off the connectors on the top side of the fly and sew them onto the underside.  Not ideal, but it would work fine and it wouldn’t be hard.  Before I chopped up a new tent, thought, I took a moment.  The connectors weren’t anywhere near poles.  Did I have the fly turned 90 degrees to the bad?  Tried that, but it didn’t help.  I had it right the first time.The tent didn’t come with a manual.  Just simple instructions sewn on the inside of the stuff sack.  Then it hit me.  The fly didn’t need the ring and post attachments to be secure.  The attachments at the four corners and on both ends of the short center support pole were all that was needed.  So what were those improperly sewn ring and post connectors?  Nuclear duh detonated–they were (properly sewn) door tie-backs.  Same as on every other tent I had ever used.  The fly was so simple to attach I was trying to make it harder.  Glad I was slow to reach for the scissors!

The salesperson said I should be happy the tent was made in the USA.  I didn’t challenge him, but when I got home I remembered that Rivendell said they didn’t sell tents because they can’t find any reasonable ones made here.  If the Hubba Hubba was made here, they’d surely offer it (it has so many fans).  Turns out that MSR makes some stuff here (stoves, snow shoes and water filtration systems, for example), but their tents are made in Taiwan and cooking pots are made in Thailand.  With so much sewing, it’d be tough to make this tent in the USA and still sell it at prices most folks would pay.

Cool here but still dry.  Rollers treated me well this morning , but I hope to make it out on the Rivendell Road tomorrow.  Very strange winter so far, right?

Saturday I was in DC for a work party.  I stayed with a good friend.  He showed me a great time.  Started by taking me to play a round of disc golf.  Wonderful course.  A little more wooded than I prefer, but it was so nice to be playing a gloveless round in January in a hoodie with good friends (his girlfriend and two other friends came along–they were all so nice and welcoming I have no hesitation to call them friends despite our short time together).  After the round we grabbed some vegan soul food (I got fried yuba (tofu skin) “chicken,” greens and mac and cheese), brought it to his friend’s place and ate in the back yard.  They shared some really tasty home brew.  We relaxed and joked and before I knew it the sun was setting.  Time to get changed for the work party.

Work party was fun.  Nice to see my colleagues, enjoy great wine (Morgan Pinot was a standout) and good food.  After the party I went back to my friend’s place for whisky and kale chips, but I was soon cashed.  It had been a big day for me–I woke up at 3:00 am to catch my flight to DC and it was now part 11 pm.  Twenty hours, then.  Easy to sleep when you are dead tired, but partial credit for my deep snooze should be assigned to my comfortable bed placed in the middle of my friend’s tool room.   Surrounded by bicycles, tools and parts, and all their familiar and comforting smells, I was guaranteed sweet dreams.  I slept until 8:00!  Haven’t done that in years!

Sunday my host dropped me off at Sticky Fingers Bakery on his way to play soccer.  I ate a small cheesecake there and bought a Tempeh Lettuce and Tomato sandwich for the flight home.  What a great scene.  A couple of dozen folks chowing on vegan food.  Makes me love DC even more.  Hopped the Metro to the airport (I love the DC Metro), flew home, drove home, Lacey hopped in the car and we headed to Hudson to see Eleanor Friedberger play at the Spotty Dog.  Hudson is an hour away and we had just one hour to get there before the doors opened.  No rest for the weary, but I was excited to see Eleanor perform live for the second time.  The first time she was part of the Fiery Furnaces, who played in Troy.  Before that night I had no idea who they were, but I was an instant fan.  This time we found ourselves seated in the front row (good timing)!

Sad to report Eleanor’s voice was all but gone.  She said her throat wasn’t sore, but almost nothing was coming out.  Most of the time, anyway.  I can share with you a couple of videos I made of the performance.  I won’t post them (not fair to her as she was clearly distraught), but I will let you watch them here if you are curious.  The performance, as it was, was actually kind of amazing.  Helped me remember how special vocals are–just cells and air–transitory.  Through it all, she was a real professional.   Sang as well as she could.  Good that she was performing with John Wesley Harding.  His voice was strong.  He sang a few of Eleanor’s numbers and a few of his own.  He really impressed me (another case of first impressions–always special when experienced live in a small joint).  All in all a very fun night that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Feel better, Eleanor!  Enjoying the album very much, John!

My DC friend sent home with me a couple of chunks of Pu-Ehr tea.  He had carried it back from China.  A very special treat that I am enjoying for the first time as I write.  I was excited to try it, as it was, along with Oolong tea, one of the two focal points in that documentary I keep mentioning (All In This Tea).  

Glad I was able to get it home.  Airport security was a concern as my friend put the chucks in a ziplock.  Looked suspicious to me, but security didn’t even open my bag.

I understand this tea can survive very well over long periods and was sometimes used as currency.  My friend said his Chinese hosts called it old man tea and would throw out the first infusion, but he doesn’t.  This first infusion tastes great.  Like Oolong, Pu-Ehr is supposed to hold up well to multiple infusions.  The first can be very short and each one thereafter a bit longer.  Just tasted the second infusion and it is just as good.  I let the first go about a minute and the second go three minutes.  The second is darker but still no bitterness.  I might try a third infusion today, but I should get on with other things (caffeine commands progress).  Suffice it to say, this has been a very positive introduction  to Pu-Ehr. Thanks friend!

Be well!


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