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de Vos: Sleeping with lions

Jon DeVos

Jon DeVos

I was born in downtown Hollywood which may explain my ingrained aversion to camping. But never once have I experienced the slightest desire to lie down in the forest at the mercy of snakes, insects, and miscellaneous fangs.

I get it. Some people love to camp. But to me, it’s just like being homeless for no purpose. Outside, in a sleeping bag, I feel like a giant S’more. And about that hissing noise; which do you even hope for? Is it the air mattress or an angry snake? Tents are like 4-sided movie screens casting bear shadows as they circle, snarling and growling over who gets to break the bad news to the quaking fat guy inside. Images like that make it hard for me to fall asleep. Tents – tense. Coincidence? You decide.

Why drive for miles to sleep on rocks? Surely you own a softer mattress someplace safer from lightning?

Before we were married, my wife was a wildly enthusiastic camper. Opposites must attract because I am a wildly belligerent camper.

During a long engagement, I was able to hold her off by claiming an excruciating pain in my attitude. Then one day her patience wore thin and she stomped her foot, glared at me, and uttered those five words I’d dreaded, “We’re going camping this weekend.”

For the rest of the week she obstinately ignored my shrill whining and loud theatrical moans. Friday afternoon I came home to a packed car and a cooler stuffed with enough gourmet food to assure me of great meals seated uncomfortably on tree stumps.

We drove forever before finally agreeing that we’d found the ideal spot. Again with the opposites because I meant that we’d finally found the ideal spot to turn around and go home. But in her mind she meant that we’d finally found the ideal spot to begin “camping” and I sensed I was getting my belligerent attitude right back at me.

In a defeated sulk, I began to stake out the tent.

“What are you doing?” she said, hands-on-hips, “We can’t camp in the trailhead parking lot. We need to put on our packs and hike a ways.”

“Hike? You’re asking me to stumble around cougar country carrying a kitchen and bedroom on my back? I thought we meant more to each other. Say, you know, if you helped me shove this sign over a bit, I could get the car around this barricade and I bet we can drive up the trail a long ways. It seems pretty wide.”

She stared at me in amazement, “Why would you even think of something like that?”

“Well, I’m from California and kind of attached to my car. What if we need to go get something?

“Like what?” she said, “I brought everything we could possibly want. What is it that you might need to ‘go get’?”

“Remember how sometimes, pretty often actually, we get a craving for sushi?”

“It’s in the ice chest. What is the matter with you? Why can’t you enjoy being outdoors for a few hours? It’s so refreshing to sleep under open skies!”

“Open skies? I dunno, I think it’s refreshing to sleep under an open logo. I give. I’ll get up early and make coffee. Assuming I’ve not been eaten by bears.”

“Hopefully I’d sleep through it.”

CORRECTION: RE: Pullman Car Company Sept. 2 – Thanks and a tip of the hat to sharp-eyed reader Bruce Vezina of Granby. The Pullman Car Company was created by George Pullman not Eugene Pullman as I incorrectly stated.