Four Questions To Ask When Tent Shopping

I haven’t always loved the outdoors.

I was always the kid who would be forced outside to play, and then instead of running around, I would sit and read… because technically I was still outside.

I loved nature, I just didn’t like camping. I HATED camping. I didn’t like the lack of showers, good food, warmth, or books. I wanted a cabin… not a tent.

However, as I got older I have really started to fall in love with the outdoors, and with being out in nature. I love hiking and camping now. Nature has started to become a place to relax and reflect, that alone has made me slowly but surely fall more in love with camping.

Zach and I have recently started to go camping more often. We want to work up to a backpacking adventure, but we are starting small with camping trips where we don’t pack out all of our stuff in order to try new gear and refine our skills.

One of the pieces we bought was a tent. We bought a 3 person tent that was light-weight, easy to assemble, and perfect for us.

However, it took us a bit of time to get to the end result of buying our tent.

Buying a tent is a big deal. There are so many options and variants to tents that it is overwhelming to know where to start.

For Mr. Yell and I, we just asked ourselves 4 important questions:

How Big?

How many people do you want to fit in your tent? Do you need a family size? Do you want a two person tent? How much room do you take up as an individual? How much space does your gear need?  For Mr. Yell and I, we really wanted a two person tent. We wanted something small so that less area would be disturbed. However, once we started looking at our needs, we realized the 3 person tent would be better. This way we have plenty of room for us, and our gear.

How heavy?

Mr. Yell and I are slowly getting into backpacking, so for us the answer was NOT heavy at ALL. We wanted something light and easy to pack, this way we have room for other things like… food. This narrowed down our options considerably since we wanted a pack around 5 lbs and no more than that to conserve space and energy when on the trails.

How durable?

Again, since we are starting to make tent camping a bigger part of our lives now, durability was a major factor. We wanted to buy a tent we could use for a few years and not just a season. This meant looking at what our tent was made out of and how it was put together.

How much set up?

Like most people our answer was “None. No set-up please!” But also like most people we realized we don’t live in a fantasy world and will have to set up our own tent. Since I am not a master at puzzles and Mr. Yell and I knew we didn’t want to freak out over instructions, we really wanted a tent that took under 15 minutes to set up. We wanted easy and quick so that when we do start backpacking for longer hikes, we don’t have to waste much energy on our shelter. The tent that we ended up choosing promised a 10 minute set up time and it is definitely fast! The poles are already connected by bungie cords and the hooks are twist and snap to attach the poles to the fabric. Definitely a win for us!

 

Four Questions To ask when shopping for a tent

Just remember: buying a tent can be a pretty serious commitment because of the cost, so don’t be afraid to take your time when looking, be sure to ask questions of yourself about what you want vs what you need, and ask others questions as well.

Happy camping!

Much love. Much grace.

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Mr. Yell and I with our TN3 Tent
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Marfa, TX: Follow Me to El Cosmico

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr. Yell and I enjoyed our 1 year anniversary in the desert a few weeks ago, and we loved it! One of our favorite parts of Marfa was where Mr. Yell and I stayed for the last half of our trip: the magical El Cosmico.

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We stayed with an Air BnB for the first couple of days of our trip, but once we moved over to El Cosmico, the Marfa Magic was amplified. El Cosmico has everything including:  tipis and yurts, outdoor hot tubs and showers, and several areas for hammocking around the property.

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El Cosmico caters to really anyone since they offer camping spots to pitch your tent and have a community kitchen if you would rather cook than eat out. While Mr. Yell and I were there we saw couples, families, and friends making road-trip stops; proving that not only is this place for everyone, but that El Cosmico is a must see!

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Going into this experience, I had some very high expectations due to some other places Mr. Yell and I have stayed (similar to El Cosmico) and honestly this place was wonderful. While we were mere “honeymooners”, there have been movie stars who have stayed here to really experience the real Marfa Magic while filming. (Kevin Bacon and Matthew McConaughey were rumored to be in town while we were there…. so you never know who you will see!)

I really just loved the relaxed atmosphere and the community house in the front of the property. The house has free coffee and teas in the morning, records playing constantly, a fun gift shop, and cool drinks for sale.

The only things El Cosmico could improve on would be working on providing more of the “little things” (see Tree House Point for some GREAT examples) and having some of the lights and campfires going during non-festival times. There was a night we would have loved to make s’mores or enjoy the full experience, but there are only two festivals in Marfa a year, and we happened to miss them both… so that meant way less lights and no campfires. So if you want the full experience, be sure to hit up the music festival in March or the film festival in July.

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Other than that, everything was lovely and Mr. Yell and I felt so refreshed after our visit to the desert, and El Cosmico definitely played a part in that.

So if you’re ever in Marfa… head on over to El Cosmico!

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Much love. Much grace.

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Marfa, TX: Food Guide

Recently, Mr. Yell and I went on our first year anniversary trip (yay!) to Marfa, Texas (By the wonderful recommendation of a Marriage Roots post). Marfa is in the Southwestern part of Texas, so if you have ever wanted a great mix of art, desert, and continually saying “hmm, that’s interesting…” then Marfa is the place for you.

Before I get deep into this post, there are a few things that need mentioning. The first thing is that Marfa is a bit of a slow-moving town. Seriously, the business hours on many of the food places, shops, and art exhibits are basically just guidelines. There were several times we would plan out a day’s worth of meals just to be scrambling because the times were merely suggestions.

Second, Marfa is for those who enjoy already-developed artists. This was only one of a few disappointments that I experienced. I was expecting a town with more street art and “starving artists”. Instead, Marfa has developed in the last 15 years to be more upscale in many aspects including food and retail prices. While this isn’t necessarily a negative thing (unless you are a local—a post for another time), it came as mapa bit of a surprise. So if you are planning on going to Marfa, plan to spend $15-$20 on food for every meal, or try to bring some PB&J’s.

 

Marpho

Mr. Yell’s (and mine!) absolutely favorite place to eat was Marpho. This was not only the most reasonably priced, but also had a wonderful atmosphere and some amazing pho! While the pho is obviously the specialty, they also serve Vietnamese sandwiches and have finger foods during Happy Hour.

 

Frama

There is really only one place in town for the best locally brewed coffee and somewhat locally made ice cream, and that is Frama! This place is very cozy and has SO MANY options! There are hot and iced drinks, smoothies and juices, and of course ice cream with unique flavors (I had the Rosemary and Olive Oil… DELISH.)

 

Food Shark Museum of Electronic Wonders and Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour

This place was AMAZING. On the outside (like most things in Marfa) it doesn’t look like much, but the interior was pretty cool. The only lighting used in the tiny restaurant is the glow of antique TV screens and music is played on an eight-track player. Not only is the atmosphere killer, the grilled cheeses are INSANE. You can choose from four different selections, which rotate out as ingredients run low, and each cheese is grilled to perfection. It was definitely a fun, quirky, experience; and I would definitely love to go back.

Planet Marfa

Outdoor games, snacks, creative seating, and a bar… Planet Marfa is the place to be on the weekend. With a teepee, renovated school bus, and a loft, there are so many places to sit and chat, and cool areas to experience little pieces of the Marfa Magic. Live music and dancing adds a bit of a party to the place as well as ping-pong tables and other “lawn” games. Even if just to check out the atmosphere, Planet Marfa is a must-see while in town.

 

Cochineal

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From: WestTexasWeekly.com

While in Marfa, Mr. Yell and I decided to do at least one “fancy” dinner for our anniversary, this dinner being at Cochineal. Located in downtown Marfa, Cochineal was the perfect place to enjoy the desert air and fine dining all at the same time. They have a large selection of delicious dishes, just be aware that the menu changes often and reservations are needed.

 

These are just a FEW of the many places in Marfa to eat, but these were by far mine and Mr. Yell’s favorites. These places had very consistent, and LABELED, hours of operation as well as delicious food and creative atmospheres.

Much love. Much grace.

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Life As An American In Europe

Taylor has been a friend of mine for over eight years. He is such a sweet person and I am so excited to have him on Go Giver! He is currently going to school overseas reversing his role from a welcomer of international students to becoming one himself.

Introducing our first  of “Perspectives Men”,  Taylor Anderson! 


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Living in Germany has definitely been a huge change in my life. I had to learn the national language when I came here and there are some things that classes can’t teach me. I have to venture out of the classroom to experience the culture first-hand and how to use the language in everyday life. By learning the language, I have grown to love the people here. I find them to be wonderful caring people, and I value the friendships I have made here. I love being able to go see my friends close by, being able to go out into town, and meeting up with people to talk.

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All this to say… It isn’t an easy life.

I have had days when it is frustrating that I can’t talk with another person and they can’t understand me.

I have had days when I wish I had enough money to run home really quickly just to be with my family during a problem.

 I am trying to live a life with no regrets.

I only have one shot to do things and I have a big list of goals that I want to accomplish and I don’t want anything or anybody to get in the way of my goals.

Yes, it may seem a bit strange that I decided to study abroad for a full year of my life. It might be strange that I have decided to do something different than most people in the US would not choose to do. In the end I don’t regret making the decision to go study abroad in Germany.  I have been able to learn so much about myself.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Getting out of my comfort zone has really brought a new perspective about life and the love I feel towards international relations and the cultures around the world. Studying abroad is not for everybody, but I do value and respect people who take it upon themselves to travel. To see the world and to care for other people who might not be Americans. You never know when someday you might need a person that you can’t understand or is not like you. People need to care for people that are different and or who might think in a different way. 


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Taylor Anderson is third year junior from the University of Southern Indiana. He is studying International Studies, German, and Anthropology currently in Marburg, Germany at Philipps Universität Marburg as an international student. He is a proud United States citizen living in Germany and is truly enjoying learning a new language and culture.  By being an international student he has learned that one country does not have to define a person, but instead people can be defined by multiple cultures.

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Munich Airport

Ah yes. I am back in the States, and have been for a couple weeks. I’ve only been at my family’s house for about a week, and I have found “re-entry” into the American culture interesting to say the least.

As my friend and team-mate, Madi, wrote in her blog (bottom of page) , there are a few differences between Polish and American culture. These were differences we all had come to love and cherish while spending our summer in Poland. However, one thing that did not cross my mind until our ending meetings, was “Reverse Culture Shock”. Reverse Culture Shock is when someone who has been overseas, comes back to his or her home culture. They had culture shock visiting the new country, but now have to readjust to the home culture they have been out of for a period of time.

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The Cloth Hall in Krakow, Poland

So yes. That is what I have been doing for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been getting used to the noisy, hustle, and attitude that defines American culture. It’s not bad… Just different. Re-entering America has been hard. It has been hard not to be overwhelmed by everything.

The English conversations and being able to understand them.

How people run, jog, or hurry in general to get where they need to go.

The noise being well over the quiet tone of Polish culture.

Seeing how parents treat children, and how those children treat each other.

How Americans have such pride over our country and the freedom we have.

The friendliness of meeting random people in airports… and that being welcomed.

The dramatic, confident way people behave.

Not better or worse. Just different.

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It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I am sure I will have more issues, especially as school starts, but I feel somewhat ready.  I believe that being back here, happened at the right time and place for a reason. To share my adventures, sadness, and joys from Poland. To observe things between cultures and try to embody the characteristics I love about both of them. To share what I have learned with whom I am able, and to be understanding when others just want a short answer.

Learning how to do what I learned how to do this summer.

Be GRACIOUS.

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First thing to do in the USA is enjoy Frappuccinos  from Starbucks

Much love. Much grace.

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Want to know more about Poland? Check out my teammate and friend Madi! Her posts are such a joy to read.

ENJOY!