Travels with Eddie

Eddie Planning the Trip

Eddie Planning the Trip

I should have bought the camp stove when I ordered the tent.  Now they were out of the gas canisters, and I was afraid to try another model.  My co-worker had written down each item I would need and had said, “you won’t blow yourself up with this stove.”

The sales-guy had a jaw like Dick Tracy and a very tight butt; he had a great walk, too–a camper’s walk.  If I could just walk that way, I knew I could camp. 

I bought a lantern flashlight, turned down the $99 sleeping bag, and asked Mr. Outdoors to show me how to put up the tent.  He demonstrated on the blue floor model, gave me some tips, and reminded me to put the slip on if it looked like rain.

Back home with my gear, Eddie, the cat who owns me, ushered me in with much excitement and figure eights around my legs.  I unpacked the tent from a cylinder about the size of a rolled-up throw-rug.  The floor was soon covered by slippery nylon tent parts, poles going every which way.  Eddie joined right in, jumping on the tent and patting the plastic bags.  I decided that putting up the tent was meant to be my responsibility and put Eddie out in the living room.

“Later,” I promised him, “later.”

The tent poles were strung with elastic and meant to telescope together.  Ha! I had tent poles in the lamp shade, the waste basket, stuck in the side of the bedspread–telescoping and collapsing like a monster gone mad, but magically the tent began to take shape–and the entire floor space of the bedroom.   

Eddie took to camping right away.  He ran around inside the tent, sliding and boxing with the hanging flaps and strings.  I tossed in a couple of pillows and crawled in with him.  Dreamily I looked up and through my bedroom ceiling, all the way to my fantasy of sleeping under a sky full of stars. 

Two weeks later in front of the Lake Kegonsa State Park Ranger’s desk, I perplexed myself with which of the six remaining sites to take.  I signed my name, bought a year’s park sticker, and confessed to the Ranger that this was my first time–probably the highlight of his day. 

Pitching the tent outdoors was challenging.  Without the lamp shades and waste basket to hold the tent poles, they had a life of their own, springing back and forth, taking the tent on a journey around my camp site.  Out of breath, I dug in the trunk for the directions and discovered I had skipped step one.  I began again, connecting all the poles to the center axis before sliding the tent down the poles to pegs I’d pounded into the ground.  Eddie watched me from his spot under a pine tree with little comment beyond pricking up his ears. 

My first bonfire was beginners’ luck.  I added newspaper to the pine logs and my miracle fire sticks along with kindling, and we had one hell of a fire. I’d brought staples: chocolate and potato chips, and picked up chicken at Hardy’s.  Eddie yeow’d some about the smoke–I guess I shouldn’t have tossed the chicken bones and greasy paper into the fire.

Around 8:30, after staring into the fire and then the darkness, we turned in.  I fell into a fitful sleep–fitful because I’d only halfway inflated the mattress. I kept rolling down into its center, on top of petrified roots and stones.  I woke in the night to rain. I’d had the good sense to put the slip over the tent.  The drops slapped the nylon with a rhythmic tapping, and the trees swayed in the wind.  It was wonderful listening to it, and I exchanged soft head-butts with Eddie before we both fell back to sleep.  I woke again toward morning, and it was quiet.  The gentle dripping of the leaves and freshness of air after rain made me think of Indians slipping through the trees on their ponies. 

At dawn, we ate  our breakfast–coffee for me and tuna for Eddie.  I wondered in what box at home I’d find Eddie’s dry catfood.  I’d certainly never found catfood in all of the stuff I brought to the woods.  Packing up was difficult.  Everything was muddy, and I’d carried more into the woods than I lived with seven days a week in my apartment.  The fun was over, it was humid, and Eddie was ready to go.  But we’d done it and would camp again.  I picked up Eddie and strode confidently, like a camper, to my car for the ten mile-drive back home.

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Published in: Uncategorized on September 4, 2009 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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