Rooftop Bonding

A Ford Escape and Feldon Shelter New Zealand experience

As a parent, I am painfully aware that only I have a limited amount of time where my son will deem it cool to hang out with me, so I’m keen not to waste it. Although his age is still in single digits, pretty soon he will become a teen physically and at this rate even sooner mentally, and then my dad jokes won’t continue to be funny and my antics will become an embarrassment – something the wife points out to me daily.

Anyway, Ford came to the rescue with the offer of their medium-sized SUV, the Escape. But not only that, it came complete with a rooftop tent from Feldon Shelters. We were to spend some quality Father/Son bonding time away from the wife, something we both referred to as ‘Freedom’ camping.

I have spoken of the attributes of the Ford Escape numerous times. It’s a roomy 5 seater SUV that is as comfortable in the town as it is roaming around the countryside. The Titanium TDCi model included AWD and additional comforts such as self-park and cruise control, it also had a sunroof, however, this was taped over as the top of the Escape was Feldon country.

The Feldon Shelter Company is the brainchild of Kiwi entrepreneurs Beth and Joel. Both come with a high desire for adventure and both adore the great outdoors as much as the shelters they designed, developed and sell. Borrowing the initial concept from overseas, they set about creating a rugged and robust, easy to pitch, rooftop tent.

Using strong and durable but light materials, double stitching, and rugged frames, Feldon Shelters have developed an elevated sanctuary that will happily withstand some of the worst (and best) weather, that Mother Nature cares to throw at it. Thankfully, my son and I didn’t need to put that challenge to the test.

Opting not to venture too far away from home (we are obviously highly intrepid explorers) and on a forecasted very warm and calm evening we set off for the beach, grabbing some fast food dinner on the way. Pitching the Feldon Shelter is not a difficult process, in fact since my son assisted, you could call it child’s play. There is a particular order of events to follow, but all are quite straightforward and logical. Zips to unzip, covers to remove and roll up, a ladder to extend and a canopy to unfold. The shelter concertina’s open and the rest is mainly cosmetic (window awnings and the like).

 

We laid out the bedding, zipped back up and went off to kick a football around, the round proper one!

With the sun beginning to retire, we thought it would be a good thing to do the same. Grabbing toiletry essentials we made the quick walk to use the public amenities before climbing the aluminium ladder to bed – well sort of.

As is often the case, we had been stocked up on snacks and travel games, so with camping lights on, we chatted about school and life in general as we played connect four and chowed down on chocolate and crisps – yes I know that none of these holds nutritional value, but there’s a lot to be said for comfort eating. With sea air and tired eyes taking over, (mine more than my son’s), we slipped into our sleeping bags, listened to the waves gently caress the shoreline and let sleep wash over us – idyllic.

What was not so idyllic was the nudge at 2.30am from my son wanting more snacks and the toilet (not sure of the order)? Anyway, more chatting, snacking and bonding was had before sleep took its hold again. It was a bit of an early rise the next morning and some of the other campers that had pitched for the night came and admired the Ford/Feldon combo, it really was quite the hit.

The wife arrived shortly thereafter, armed with espresso coffee and hot chocolates all round, this was followed by a quick roasting about us having midnight snacks – alas, our freedom camping trip was well and truly over. Sure I could have hidden the evidence, but repacking the rooftop tent, (if you want to do it easily and do it right) takes two people, hence the pre-arranged spousal visit.

As a kid, I remember going camping with my parents, I’m pretty sure that I even camped in our back garden by myself a few time, and each experience never failed but to be an adventure. I hope my son will look back and recall ‘that time we camped on top of the Ford Escape in a Feldon Shelter, staying up late and eating junk food until the early hours of the morning’, regardless, it was an awesome father/son bonding experience that I won’t forget, and not just because the wife won’t let me!

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