DeVos: Rented a tent, a tent, a tent |

DeVos: Rented a tent, a tent, a tent

Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

Eleven out of every 10 American campers are seriously injured in camping mishaps annually. This incredible, startling statistic is one I totally made up to dramatically demonstrate to my wife how much I prefer hotels with sheets and indoor plumbing.

She asked me how there could be more injuries than campers. I explained that there were some doggone fools that will try anything twice. Campground reservations cost what hotels used to. For your wilderness getaway, you’ll travel four-and-a-half hours to pitch a metal-ribbed tent at midnight in a lightning storm. The morning, however, is clear and beautiful as you arise to find you are camped 13 feet from the same neighbor who’s driven four-and-a-half hours to get away from you.

I’ve long suspected that camp tents were invented by divorce lawyers. Keep quiet as we listen in to a typical couple setting up the tent, miles from emergency medical response.

“Why won’t this … ow, OW! Dammit, why won’t this stupid thing stand up … ungh … there, I got it! Quick, hand me a tent stake.”

“Where are they?”

“Well, gee, since you packed them, how would I know?”

“Uh, I didn’t pack the tent stakes. Now, don’t get mad, but remember when you asked me if I packed the steaks and I said, uh-huh, I did. Well, what I packed were two rib eyes in the ice chest. Incidentally, they were fine until you backed the trailer over all our gear in the dark. That was right before you started shrieking at me.”

“I’m sorry, OK? I’ve said it one hundred times; actually, that makes a hundred and one but you WEREN’T EVEN WATCHING LIKE I SAID TO!”

“I did watch. I screamed “STOP” but you were backing up all lunatic-macho and I had to jump out of the way.”

Every year about this time I offer thanks for the guy who bought my camp stove at a garage sale when my wife wasn’t looking. She went off with a neighbor to do whatever she does when she’s out of sight, so I grabbed the stove out of the garage, slapped a price on it and prayed.

The answer to my prayer was a nice 20-something who came up and said, “Gosh, I don’t want to take advantage of you. This is a Camp Chef Professional Pro 60 2 burner Modular Cooking System in the optional factory red. It sells for about $200 dollars. This one’s been hardly used and you’ve got it marked at $8 bucks.”

“Wow! Thanks,” I said, “you’re right, that is way too high,” and knocked off a couple more bucks. We haggled back and forth and finally settled at $3 if he’d get out of sight before the wife got home. He squealed out of the drive and happiness reigned.

Until my wife noticed it missing and asked what I’d done with it. No beating around the bush — “have you seen it?” — stuff for her, uh-uh, straight on like a rhino, “What’d you do with the camp stove?”

“I, suh, suh, sold it to a friend. Yeah, that’s it, I sold it to a friend.”

Relentless, she grilled, “Who?”

“Well, he was my best friend at the time but we fell apart and I never got his name.”

There’s just something inherently wrong about trespassing in the wilderness, sloshing around back roads with a gallon can of highly flammable stove gas. The only good thing is that the fireball is often visible for miles, helping pinpoint the location for Search and Rescue.

You just can’t get good room service from a bear.

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