|Camper Extraordinaire, far right.|
I tried to figure out a place that my friend Gerry and I could go camping alone. I thought about the backyard, but that wasn’t cool and we would not be able to show that we were camping outdoor geniuses. We needed to camp in a place that was convenient for my father as he drove to and from the ranch several miles west of Milk River.
Then I realized there were several places on the ranch itself that made ideal sites. One had a spring that bubbled up out of the ground. Dad could take us there on one of his trips to the ranch then pick us up the following day.
It was late spring and the weather was ideal. Gerry and I planned what we needed, packed our backpacks and loaded them into Dad’s truck. One of the items we packed was pancake mix. I was excited for us to cook this in the morning. It seemed like it would be a great treat.
We were driven to the ranch and then out to the spring. It was an ideal day and an ideal location—about a mile away from the house and ranch buildings where my brother and his wife lived.
As Gerry and I unpacked our gear, we realized that we didn’t have any butter or lard to lubricate the frying pan for making pancakes, so we walked the mile back to the ranch buildings to borrow some from my brother.
Then we walked back to our camp and settled in for the night.
As it got dark Gerry and I crawled into my little pup tent and into our sleeping bags. We were camping and ready for all that it had to offer. We talked for a while and started to fade off to sleep.
Then we heard something outside our tent. Now Gerry and I must have seen the same scary movie because we were both immediately afraid of whatever it was. I suppose that we could have looked but we didn’t dare. Whatever was outside the tent probably had large teeth, massive claws, and it would cause great bodily harm to my friend and me.
Then coyotes started howling. It sounded like they were right beside our tent. Gerry and I were terrified.
Those coyotes were kind enough to serenade us all night.
Then we could hear rustling outside our tent. I don’t think I slept at all. I kept thinking that if I survived, I could have pancakes in the morning with choke cherry syrup. I prayed that morning—and pancakes—would come soon.
After a very long night, we saw the sun rise. Somehow we had survived. The critters that were rustling around our tent had miraculously disappeared and we ventured out to a beautiful spring morning. The fact that we survived the night (and the menacing monster) made the day that much more beautiful. A great day to be alive.
Gerry and I mixed up the pancake batter and we made several pancakes. They tasted so good considering our near-death experience.
Then we looked around our tent. Deer tracks were everywhere but about 30 feet from our tent, we found coyote tracks.
We probably weren’t in any danger, but when one is in the midst of a pack of howling coyotes in the middle of the night, your perspective changes.
Also when you’re in the midst of coyote tracks in the middle of the morning.
Just sayin. . .