Thursday, March 25, 2010

This blog has been getting neglected

Although you can gain some sort of semblance of what's been happening from the Twitter feed to the right.

Anyways, a lot has changed.  Summer is coming.  Spring cleaning already commenced on the small tent and is coming on the big tent.  I slept on a pull out bed in a hotel the other day.  Dreamed that I kept taking the neighbor's door knob off and then putting it back on before they'd notice anything.  Ordered one of these:

Not really, but would like to.  Anyways, we'll try to get back on the blog train.  Happy March.  

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Basics: Part 2

Out in the wild west frontier if there's one thing you better do in the winter it's stay warm and with a tent there are only so many options for surviving through the night:

1. Sleep in a building with an actual foundation. (we refuse)
2. Sleep under 20-30 pounds of blankets. (considered it)
3. Sleep under two to three hundred pounds of snow bunnies.  (too much drama)
4. Electrical heat and insulation.  (we've submitted)

Initially upon setting up his tent Kyle Cordon Bleu created a platform out of some plywood and some 2x4s.  This was continued in our winter setup, and although this does have it's advantage, it has it's disadvantage as well.  So once we had our tents set up on individual platforms, we started to assess how to stay warm in sub-freezing temperatures.  We concluded, as implied by the list, to use electrical heat as using our SUV's exhaust seemed undesirable just because my car runs on premium.(although the one night we did do it I slept like a baby.)  So concluding on electrical heat we headed off to Lowe's, an imitation Home Depot that happens to have better proximity to us.
 The Feature Comforts Electric Utility Heater with Thermostat was the perfect pick for us.  With a forward facing fan we could attach a dryer exhaust tube and while keeping the heater outside of our tents, run the heat into our tents.  Combine that with a light timer you'd use to make robbers think you're still in town and we could regulate our overnight heating without having to wake up whenever it got too hot or too cold.  With this in place we thought we'd be fine.  We were wrong.

See, with all the surface area of the tents, and the sub-zero temperatures at night (often below 15 degrees fahrenheit) we were losing heat at a rate that would require our heater to run all night long.  Clearly not an ideal situation.  So we began looking at insulation options.  Because of the size of his tent, KCB just started throwing blankets over the top of his, in between the tent and the fly.  In his case this was effective, but running out of blankets and realizing that to buy them would cost more than I wanted to spend I immediately knew the better solution: carpet.

A month or two in with the fly removed.  The aluminum foil is used for light-sealing

That's right, I don't care if it's new carpet, and if you've ever been on craigslist you'll know people are always giving away free carpet, for free.  So I found some lady getting rid of more carpet than I needed and went and shoved it in the back of the SUV.  Then, like a seamstress I began making a pattern, I would cut the carpet first, and put that on the inside layer, and then the padding for the outside layer.  Once in place the amount of heat to keep my tent warm was cut in half.  But I realized something else was happening, but only to my tent.

See, KCB and I's tents are different shapes and configurations.  I have a mattress inside of my tent while his tent is actually on top of a mattress wrapped in a tarp.  So what I started noticing was that although I still was warmer than before the carpet, the area next to my mattress had a significant drop in temperature.

Remember how I mentioned that our tents were actually lifted off the ground on top of plywood?  Well that plywood was primarily exposed to the air.  Just had a few 2x4s that were keeping it off the ground.  That's when I realized that what we had created was actually a heat sink, and my tent was on top of it.

The most common area for a heat sink to be used is in a computer.  Basically by using a conductive material formed into a high surface area design this form can suck heat off of whatever you want to cool, in the case of a computer, most likely the processor chip.  In the case of myself, the inside of my tent.  Now KCB wasn't experiencing this because the entire footprint of his tent was in contact with a mattress that was in contact with the plywood, meaning he basically had an insulator.  You're probably wondering why my mattress on the inside of the tent didn't act as an insulator, it did.  But if I let my foot fall off the edge of that twin mattress I'd find it changing temperature from 65 degrees to 30 in the space of 8 inches.  The obvious solution?  More insulation.  So cutting up the padding I had left over from my earlier project I filled garbage bags with it, then filled the space I had around my mattress with the garbage bags, and then layered blankets over the bags creating what has been described by many as: 






That last one was a bit embarrassing, but this blog is about honesty, so I had to share it.  I wish I could contest such claims, and I know it's killing you that you can't see it, so I've attached a link to a picture.  

Just kidding.  It's better.  And Prince almost never sleeps there.  Only when I get lonely.  Which is every night never.

So now you know.  Keeping a tent warm is easy.  Truth is, with the insulation KCB and I don't even use the electric heater configurations (there's one per tent both controlled by the same timer) when the low is above 20.  We do also have electric blankets but I rarely use that above 25.  And if you get enough babes in the tent you can be artificial heat free at any temperature above -20.  Although the babes on the outside are liable to get some minor to serious frostbite.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chapter 3 – The Founding of Tent City - Survival Is Not Guaranteed

Big Tent posing for the first day of Tent City - he wants to his identity remain unknown so as his parents don't find out about his condition. 

Just as the first settlers of the new world founded Jamestown, Big Tent and I were off to settle Tent City.  Just as death was constantly hovering over Jamestown, Big Tent and I knew that the Grim Reaper may visit one of us during the winter.  After the second night of settlement, I came down with a nasty cold and horrible coughing fits.  I wrote out my will by the candlelight:

Big Tent – to you I leave my most prized possession, my tent.   I won’t be around to see the day when you find Mrs. Big Tent, but I hope it may serve as a bedroom for all of the Little Big Tents you and your wife have in the future. 

Dad – to you I leave forgiveness.  Although you forced your unfulfilled dreams of becoming the next great white NBA player on me, I forgive you.  I no longer dwell on the nights when you would verbally abuse me when I missed a shot while practicing in the driveway, or when you spank me with the belt after losing high school basketball games.  Maybe one of your other sons can become what I couldn’t.

Mom – to you I leave the love of your first born son.  I don’t have much in terms of worldly possessions, but I did manage to get a personal portrait made and framed at JC Penny’s.  Please remember me.

To my younger brothers – to you I leave advice.  Everything I have learned in life I learned from the Rocky movies, specifically Rocky through Rocky IV… not so much the 5th Rocky; that one was a disappointment.  I would even suggest the recently released “Rocky Balboa,” there is a killer scene in which Rocky inspired me to keep fighting in life. (See this link: Rocky's inspirational speech to his son)

Nana & Papa – you are old and will probably be right behind me.  We should hang out soon in heaven.

Fortunately, Big Tent knew of an ancient Egyptian remedy that involves mixing Captain Crunch, Pop Rocks, and Classico tomato alfredo pasta sauce into a topical cream to be applied to the face in similar fashion to William Wallace.  I recovered within minutes and felt better than ever.


It wasn’t long until Jack Frost came to town and brought a foot of snow with him.  On December 6th, 2009, Tent City was deep in the snow.  Our only sources of heat were the beautiful babes that we could gather with us in our tents… we were freezing.

Big Tent and I knew that we were in for a long winter unless we got girlfriends or engineered some type of heating system.  After considering the fact that we lived in tents we figured our best chance of warmth was with a heating system.  (Big Tent will lay out the science behind of our heating system in the next entry)
 The view from my front door after the first snow

God bless America!

As Tent City began to settle it was time to develop the foundation of a great nation.  We began writing out the details of our government and constitution.  Tent City would be a place where mankind could live in peace and prosperity.  They would be free from tyranny and dictators.  However, we first had to break free from our oppressive mother country – my dad, who owns the property where Tent City has been established.  He began to impose ridiculous and burdensome taxes upon us, we would not stand for it.  It was time to declare war. 

We had no basis of funds to support our war efforts; we needed a source of revenue to help us fight our cause.  Eventually we found an abundant source off of which to base our economy – men’s dress shoes.  Big Tent and I leveraged our resources to establish the next shoe dynasty: (check it out! It’s for real!).

Today we find ourselves in the midst of this great struggle.  Although we may be the underdog, we shall triumph in victory.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Basics: Part 1

Generally speaking, tents are classified by two criteria:

1. Size.
2. Seasons

Size is pretty straight forward, a "1 man" tent is designed to sleep one man, or woman. As far as tents are concerned these vastly different types of individuals are completely interchangeable. It's weird. 

Seasons are a bit more complex yet still easily understood by virtually any mammal that walks upright. A "1 Season" tent is good for 1 season, can you guess which one?  (If you said 'fall' or 'spring' you're hopeless.) Right, summer. You may be thinking it right now, and if you are, I'm glad to hear it, the "2 season" tent, doesn't really exist, due to spring and fall being the only two synonymous seasons.  

So, to review, a 1 season tent is for summer, a 3 season for spring through fall, and a 4 season is for everything, though often a bit much in seasons aside from winter.  Probably the most iconic tent to the average man is a 4 season tent; the North Face VE 25.

The VE 25: a 3 man, 4 season tent

It's that yellow dome thing that people sleep in before sacrificing all of their personal belongings, their family's well being, and their self respect to die on a mountain no one was ever meant to climb (If they were God would have put a hot spring at the top or a "Starbucks Everest" location at the least).

Kyle's tent is a Big Agnes Elkhorn 2, a 2 man 3 season. Heavy on the mesh, light on the weight, and fits perfectly on top of a queen size mattress (in case you hiked that in). Mine on the other hand is the 3 man, 3 season EMS Thunderlodge. Premiered in the early 90s I think I've used this tent twice prior to this last month and one of the times was in my bedroom.  Kyle, with a mild online shopping addiction, acquired his tent off of for no better reason than that it was on (this phenomenon recently repeated itself, to be discussed later...).

You will note, as it is noteable, that neither of us is sleeping in a 4 season. There isn't some sort of strategy to this, it's just a consequence of failing scouts and being short on basic reasoning.  However, we have engineered basic adaptive techniques to deal with the environment that is Utah in the winter. Look forward to that in Part 2. 


Chapter 2 – Oceanside Tent Property

About 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas there is a little piece of heaven on earth, Primm, Nevada, home of the Desperado Roller Coaster.  In 1996 the Desperado was listed by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest roller coaster.  It is a tradition of mine to pay homage to the 8th wonder of the world whenever I am around Vegas, and this time through I rode it solo. 

A roller coaster is quite symbolic of the ups and downs of tent life.  It was a great way to open the next chapter of my tent life in Southern California. 

I would’ve spent all day on the Desperado, but I had to get back on the road and to the campsite before nightfall.  It is well advised to set up camp before the animals of night begin to prey, especially cougars.  Down in the Southwestern United States (specifically Vegas, Scottsdale, and Southern California), there are many cougars on the prowl; they thrive on innocent and unsuspecting young adult men.  I have yet to have been attacked by a cougar, but have friends that have barely escaped horrific encounters.

Once I arrived in Huntington Beach I immediately contacted Big Tent.  He had acquired some pristine property at a house full of 10 dudes; they were willing to let me tent squat on their roof, they liked the idea of another dude living on their roof in a tent.   I made it to the roof with an hour left of daylight, more than plenty to set up camp.  What I found was tent heaven – I had perfect camping weather and a view of the sunset on the Pacific. 

View from the front tent door 

Camp California - That cooler was my kitchen.  I love America.

I soon became acquainted with the chief of this tribe of dudes.  His name is Kui, and he taught me the ways of Southern California as I taught him the ways of tent living.  Kui soon relinquished his former lifestyle by selling his rental contract and purchased a luxurious 15 man tent to join me on the roof.  We began to establish a tent empire on the top of the roof; we envisioned a new society of tent dwellers with whom we could revolutionize society.

Me and Chief Kui at the Tent Majal

 We put my tent inside his tent...

However, Big Tent and I began to see that destiny had a different idea for us.  Big Tent also wanted to make the conversion to tent life, but had the foresight that tent life could not sustain itself – we needed some cash flow to support the lavish lifestyles of tent life.  We began brainstorming and plotting on how to develop a supplemental source of income.  Our idea soon developed and we knew that we needed to head north to Utah to lay the foundation of our business empire (We will provide details of such endeavors in further chapters of this saga).

I was only in California for a month before it came time to pack up and head north.  I wish I could’ve stayed there forever, but I knew where my tent belonged.  Our timing could not have been better.  Shortly after our departure, El Niño made a visit to Southern California and demolished Kui’s tent.  He remains a tent refugee to this day; my heart goes out to him. 

El Niño

Tent Devastation - Kui's tent was completely collapsed in the wake of El Niño

It may have been better for Big Tent and me to remain in Southern California and fight the wind and rain, we were headed to more treacherous territory in the winters of Utah.  We weren’t sure if we could survive the blizzards, polygamists, and the abominable Snowbabes….

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chapter 1 - Life Before The Tent

Prior to living in a tent I lived in something even smaller, an apartment in New York City.  For awhile I was living underneath an Ikea loft bed (seen below); a colleague of mine was sharing his 8’ x 10’ bedroom with me.  Times were tough...

My NYC Corporate Headquarters - that blue thing was my inflatable mattress 

Before accepting a job in NYC I had never spent a day in NYC, but it sounded like a good time and a healthy change from Utah.  NYC and I had a honeymoon that lasted nearly 8 months; we were madly in love, but then I started to see (and smell) the true side of the city.  I started entertaining thoughts of other cities, and even made a few trips away from NYC to see such cities.  A few of those trips turned into affairs, and my relationship with NYC never recovered.  The break-up was nasty.  We have since seen each other on what was intended as friendly terms, but we naturally go back to fighting and leave on an even worse note.  It was never meant to be.  I wish the best for New York.

During one of our fights I threatened to move out West and become a truck driver.  I’m not even kidding; I even laid out the financing plan for truck driving school.  Between my job and feelings toward the city I needed a change.  That same week I had an acquaintance in town that crashed on my couch, I will refer to him as “Big Tent” as he owns a spacious 4-man dome tent.   Big Tent helped me realize my irrational plans of leaving the city and becoming a truck driver. 

“What you should do is live out of tent.  I lived in my tent in my bedroom for awhile and I was never happier.  It’s like you are sleeping outside, but you’re not,” he shared with me. 

“Pure genius,” I thought to myself, “this guy clearly has all the answers.”

Big Tent was right, living out of a tent clearly made more sense then living out of an 18-wheeler.  It just so happened that I had purchased a tent online earlier that week.  At the time I didn’t know why I was buying a tent, but Destiny sure did.

I eventually parted ways with NYC and my accounting career.  I then spent time in North Carolina, Idaho, and Hawaii until I finally settle my tent stakes down in Utah for a few months.  At first I thought I was crazy for living out of a tent, but each night when the crickets would sing me to sleep I was reminded otherwise.

Left: A view of the foyer, Right: A view of the master bedroom

Soon winter began to move in and tent life wasn’t as comfortable as it used to be.  It was time to migrate south to sunnier skies, and I had my eyes on California.  I had been in contact with a friend who had procured prime tent real estate for me.  He mentioned that the camp site would be only a block from the ocean in Huntington Beach, CA.  That was all I needed to hear, so I quickly packed up my car with my clothes, my tent, and my moped.  It was in Southern California where I would once again cross paths with Big Tent…

Gas leaked from the moped while tipped to its side... The fumes left me high for a few days and my car still smells like Chevron 85 octane.

Friday, January 8, 2010


My intentions for this blog are to relate to the masses the struggles and successes of life in a tent.  This lifestyle started back in early August of 2009 as I moved out to Utah with nothing but the clothes on my back, a moped, and the commitment to live in a tent for an entire year and not pay rent.  Since that time I have observed myself blossom from a young and timid boy who did not know his place in this world, into a fearlessly driven leader of men (as seen in the picture).

I hope you find entertainment in this blog; continual drama occurs in my life since taking to my new habitat.  I will periodically recount the adventures that unfold from the tent, from the fight for survival on cold and snowy nights to the life threatening encounters with stray cats and dogs, and also the human drama of tragedy, romance, jealousy, friendship, betrayal, victory, defeat, perseverance, and the ultimate triumph of good versus evil!

Now I am currently a few months behind, so the course of this blog will be delayed for some time until we are caught up to the current situation.  This blog is based on true events; only in the interest of protecting the identities of those involved will facts be changed. 

Please stay tuned for the next update…