Gluttons for punishment
-- by Barbara Gould
Adventuresome Senior Recreation I call it. In other words, 'we are poor
folks that do things the hard way!' That is great because we make do and
feel like it really develops character! I am not putting down people with
less than moderate income; there is a lot of us out here and money is not
what life is all about now is it? I was told by a farm woman once that if
you had a good family and were of reasonable health you were far from poor!
We decided to get some stuff together and try camping in the rough. By
rough, I mean, an army pup tent, sleeping bags, a great air mattress, cooler
full of food, STERNO stove and hit the road to the Pioneer Mountains.
All went fine till the middle of the night when I had to get up to make a
nature run and tried to get out of that dad-blasted pup tent. Tell you
right now, I am an old dog, not a pup! I rolled around trying to keep from
knocking the little center pole down, trying to get into my shoes, my knees
up to my chin and I couldn't stand up to save my soul, so I had to roll
right out in the dirt and then get on my feet. By then my knees were
shaking and the forest looked darker than the inside of a cow, I don't like
the dark to begin with but in the forest all I could think of was bears.
Morning couldn't come fast enough for me.
Before we returned home on Sunday afternoon the decision had been made that
we would purchase a new tent! We called the local hardware and got some
prices and dashed in before they closed.
They did not have a big supply but we got an eight by seven foot Cabin Tent
by Remington and it was thirty percent off so fit our budget nicely. We
were thrilled. Got it home and put it up in the back yard. Lots of room
and we could stand up! No more camping in that contortionists delight!
So another weekend on hand and we loaded up and tried it again, same place,
in fact the same site! We were so thrilled, the sun was shining and we were
going to have a a blast. The tent went up, on a tarp quick as could be,
everything was ready, the work done time to sit back and enjoy a cold drink.
Conversation drifted to how lucky we are to have each other, this beautiful
area we live in and the means to just relax and enjoy the weekend. About
then over the big timbered mountain came the black, threatening clouds, gust
of wind and a rain drop or two that turned into a torrential cloudburst in
less time than it takes me to tell you about it. Of course we were
surrounded by Seniors in big fifth wheel trailers and shiny pickups.
We barely got the dry food containers and canvas chairs into the car and get
the little dog and our bodies into the tent before it broke loose. Randy
covered our leather bike saddles with grocery bags and we were set to wait
Water lay on the ground, it ran under the tarp and tent and about three
square feet of tent was afloat. The lightening flashed rapidly and close.
Thunder sounded like rushing freight trains on all sides. The wind was
driving a mist into the tent through the rain cover on the top. When it
eased up a bit Randy made a dash for the car, got his poncho and a tarp and
covered the rain cover anchoring it with bungee cords. It worked but of
course by then there was a big dampness throughout the tent.
Next came driving, cranberry size hail that pelted us very hard. Seemed
like it went on forever. The violence of the storm and being closed in the
tent made me so
claustrophobic. Very unpleasant feeling. Knowing that there were steep
timber covered mountains on all sides of us I couldn't help but think back
to the summer of 1959, the night the mountain fell and made a lake just out
of West Yellowstone, Montana, killing people who were camped in the area. I
worked as a long distance telephone operator for Mountain Bell at Livingston
that summer and I will never in this lifetime forget the trauma of that
After the storm subsided Randy bungee'd the little pet carrier to his rear
bike rack, we slipped the little Lhasa into it and rode the campground. The
hail was still in evidence under the trees but had melted rapidly. We only
rode the campground loop as this was the little dog's first experience on a
bike ride. Upon return to camp we got our evening meal of pork and
beans, potato salad and cheese/chicken wraps that had been frozen ahead of
time for the occasion. The clouds were appearing again and we knew that if
we got hungry later we could get into the car, as we had a lot of dry food
NO FOOD IN THE TENT! Not even toothpaste or a breath mint. Nothing that
might tempt a bear. There had been no bear reports or scares in these camps
but then there is always a first time and that was what bothered me. I had
worked at Glacier
National Park one summer, we lived just a few miles south of the West
Glacier Entrance and the bears made a real impression on me!
It was inevitable that a new storm would be along soon so we re-arranged
the tent to enhance our comfort for the long haul. The rather soft but
constant snap and crackle of raindrops against the tent was rather a
soothing sound especially after the deluge that we had endured. I felt
disappointment that the clouds would cover the beauty of the full moon; I
had looked forward to viewing it in the trees. (Later that night I did see
it in all its glory as the sky cleared and storms ceased).
Morning dawned bright and beautiful. Randy rose first and I could hear him
bustling around, setting up the STERNO stove and assembling the coffee pot.
I couldn't go back to sleep so I got up and he had the muffins out, the
table set in an attempt to surprise me. He is a most considerate husband.
We ate, broke camp, watched a baby camp robber scurry about, no fear of us
or the dog, looking for any morsel we might have let drop. Between him and
the squirrels it was a busy camp.
We hiked a bit, hung wet items on a improvised line to dry before we
loaded the car. Walked across the Boulder River bridge, and up a trail.
The day would be hot!
Had our lunch then loaded the bikes and headed for home. The torment of
the storm would not be forgotten but neither would the coziness of the tent,
the pine odors or the freshness after the rain!
The big fancy campers and trailers were also readying for departure for
distances both near and far. We arrived home with a giant sized sense of
great accomplishment and satisfaction.
.@2001 Barbara Gould
Barbara writes articles dealing with life and issues of Senior Citizens.
She has published a poetry book, written a column and been published in many
areas. She had a mid-life career in Early Childhood Education and
Development then closing her Daycare Center/preschool she volunteered for
five years for the Senior Companion Program. A few years ago Barb married a
man much younger than herself and officially retired the first of this year.
Her days are filled with writing, gardening and homemaking..