Camping debacle

camping tent

My wife, Terri, has always loved being outdoors. She hikes through Yellowstone Park every year and in January of 2024 will hike, with her girlfriends, in the territory of Patagonia.

She skis cross country, right out our back door. She also has a mountain bike that racks up the miles of her hard labor. She is not a novice to camping and spending time away from the comforts of home.

On one particular afternoon, finishing her ride on the mountain bike, she asked me if I would consider investing, as she called it, in a bike for myself. I almost choked on my raspberry-filled doughnut. And then she said, if I would consider buying, we could take both our bikes up to Stanley, Idaho, for my first experience on a mountain bike. She would pack all the camping gear, set it up and do the cooking.

I caved in to her request and paid more for the bike than I would have paid for a saddle horse.

A week later we arrived at Redfish Lake, unloaded the bikes and found a trail suitable for me to begin. Terri was very encouraging but the trail was so rocky we turned around, arriving back to camp — a total of two hours of biking.

The day was winding down, and I was dug out to my toenails hungry. So, I offered to help set up camp and even to cook. First thing, we grabbed the tent and set out all the pieces to it. No tent fly. That wasn’t a big deal as the weather was supposed to be warm.

Next, we squared up the tent, hammered stakes in each corner, and I reached in the bag to discover no tent poles. Once again not a serious problem. We would put our sleeping bags in the tent and sleep with the roof of the tent laying on top of us. But wouldn’t you know it? No sleeping bags to be found. Both of them still tucked away at home on the camping shelf.

Terri was devastated. I assured her our trip was still going to be enjoyable, as it had been so far. We would pack up our gear, find a restaurant, order prime rib and then laugh about what happened during our four-hour ride home. Finally, there was a smile on her face.

After a short drive, and my belly thinking its throat was cut, we sat down and ordered prime rib. I would be taking out a second loan on my truck just to pay for dinner.

I couldn’t help but notice our waiter was a little tipsy. Each time he helped a table, he would then walk to the bar and tip one up. By the time our meal came, I was helping him carry our plates so our dinner didn’t end up on the floor. He was then escorted off the floor by the manager — his wife. He received a standing ovation from those of us in the dining room.

Our trip was turning out to be a success. The prime rib was the best I’ve eaten in years, and the entertaining drunk waiter, let’s just say we are still laughing about it.

After we left the restaurant, I managed to convince my wife there must have been a real reason why we weren’t sleeping in our tent. Who knows, with the luck we were having a grizzly bear probably would have wandered into our camp and paid us a visit.

Our camping debacle turned out to be one of the better Friday night dates with my wife. We had never laughed so much. But now that I think of it, where was the cooler with the t-bone steaks, the baked beans and the ambrosia salad? Hmm?


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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.



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