“Open me a beer, honey.” That’s my new answer for everything when I’m camping; she walked over to the cooler and got me a cold one.We’ve driven to this spot south and above Ouray. We’re going to camp at tree line in the Yankee Basin. I’m puffing pretty hard above 10,000 feet; she and the dog are too. We’ve found a nice spot next to a creek; the previous users of this site left a nice cache of firewood.
My lovely wife hands me a beer, she looks great in her red fleece jacket, “What are we having for dinner?”
I take a pull of my beer, “I was thinking we’d have burgers and beans, sliced tomatoes, sound okay?”
“I don’t want a bun with mine.” She sniffs.
“Fine with me, no bun for you my dear.”
“How are you going to cook them?” she asked.
“I’m going to light that wood on fire and cook the burgers over the flames.” I said.
She looked at the wood and then at me and says, “Oh.”
“You told me you’ve been camping before, Honey”
“I went to camp every summer, not camping per say.” She said taking a superior tone.
“Ah, I see. Let me guess, you slept in cabins, ate in a dining hall and ran around all day doing planned activities.”
Continuing with her superior tone, “That’s right, I learned archery, swimming, crafts and I learned how to paddle a canoe.”
“They never taught you how to build a campfire?”
“No, someone built them for us, we’d just show up when it was dark and the fire was already going.” She looked off in the distance up the basin, “It isn’t going to snow is it?”
“What? Why would it snow, it’s almost July.”
“I was just wondering, because there is so much snow up above us.” She was shading her eyes and looking at the snow.
“Sugar Pie, that snow is left over from the winter, it’s not going to snow tonight, it can’t, it won’t be cold enough to snow.”
“We told ghost stories around the campfire, Indian stories as well.” She smiled at the memory, I think.
“Should I tell you a ghost story tonight? Maybe I’ll tell you a few tales about the murderous Arapahos who used to hang around these mountains.”
She looked at me and said with another dazzling smile, “I’d like that.”
“What if I scared the pants off you?”
“I’d like that too.” She turned, wiggled her ass at me and walked over to the truck and brought back our folding chairs, the miserable kind that come in a carry sack.
Cakes and I weren’t camping as much as we were “Glamping”. We had and aluminum table, those horrible folding chairs, a big REI tent equipped with a double thickness queen sized air bed. We had our own sleeping bags and a double sleeping bag, lanterns, pillows, buckets, basins and rugs for the floor of the tent. Of course, we had our mountain bikes, two bags of shit for the dog. We had a new 4 wheel drive we stuffed it all in. We had bags for camping clothes, bags for hotel clothes and clothing bags for dress up clothes. The dog even had his own sleeping pad, he didn’t like it, he slept in-between us on the air bed. We had two coolers, one for food the other for drinks. We had wine, vodka, whiskey and beer. Plus we have a big bag of snacks for us and one for the dog.
I opened the first aid kit and handed my wife two Tylenol, I said, “Take these before you get an altitude headache.”
“I won’t get a headache. I never get headaches.” She sniffed again.
“You will up here in the thin air, trust me on this.”
She shrugged her shoulders and took the Tylenol one at a time, each followed by multiple sips of my beer, she grimaced. I’ve never seen anyone who hated to take a pill more than she does. I take that back, the dog hates it more than she does. Maybe I should hold her jaws open and toss the pill in like I do with the dog, then hold her mouth closed and stroke her throat?
“I won’t get a headache, you know.” She stuck her tongue out at me.
“I know you won’t, you just took two Tylenol to head it off, see now we’re both right. Why don’t you and your buddy get some dead fall for the fire, start with stuff the size of your fingers and work your way up to branches the size of your thigh.”
She looked at the wood we have and said, “How much do we need?”
“Plenty if it snows tonight.”
“You said it wouldn’t snow.” She replied with a note of alarm.
“The dog will love it, so will you, look in the car I think I brought a shovel, just in case. Remember, Sugar, I memorized Major Robert Roger’s Ranger’s Rules, the first rule is, “Don’t Forget Nothin” .
“What was the second?” Cakes asked.
“Keep your musket as clean as a whistle”
My wife laughed, “Did you bring a musket?”
“It’s under the backseat along with the powder, ball and patches. I have a scoured hatchet, too.”
“You’re kidding, right?” She said.
“What are we going to do if it snows?” She's back to the snow scenario again.
“Stay in bed and keep warm and dry, how’s that sound?”
“I like it, as long as I’m warm.” She and the dog walked off to collect firewood.
I finished the tent, blew up the air bed and things organized when she got back with a bundle of wood. They were both short of breath. The three of us walked back and got more. When we got back to camp I poured her a cup of Cabernet. She watched as I built our fire.
“Wow, look at the mountains, they’ve turned gold, Honey.” She said sounding amazed and happy as she stared at the San Juans.
“It’s called Alpenglow, sweetheart.”
She smiled, “What a perfect name.”
We had a nice dinner, a warm fire. The Cakes was tired, I tucked her in bed at 9:45. She didn’t show her face until after 8 the next morning. All her worrying about not being able to sleep was a waste of time. On the other hand, the dog kept me awake most of the night and I had a headache when I finally woke up at 4:45. When I got up he snuggled up and slept with his "Mom" until 8.
That was the first night of the Cake’s wilderness experience, the next day she got a taste of 4 wheelin in the mountains. She was horrified!