If you’re reading this, bring coyote repellent and Pop-Tarts

I’m going camping.

Actually, by the time you read this, I should have re-emerged from the deep and dark of the woods. If you don’t see me, please send a search party. Armed with chocolate and Pop-Tarts.

“Relax, Pop Pops,” my camping guide says. “I’ll teach you everything you need to know.”

My fate is in the hands of my 11-year-old grandson. I hope he isn’t still holding a grudge over last Christmas.

Like most errors in judgment, the camping trip seemed like a good idea at the time. Mixing with nature. Escaping technology. Grilling our food over an open flame.

Now that I leave in a couple of hours for the great outdoors, it occurs to me that:

• Nature means bears and mosquitoes. OK, so there aren’t too many bear sightings where we are going. But that sign that proclaims “Caution: Coyote Denning Area” makes me nervous.

So I won’t miss smooth jazz playing me to sleep on my surround sound system. The soothing crooning of the plaintive howl of hungry coyotes echoing all around the camp should lull me into a sound slumber. Or something.

• No technology means we’re hiking through Hansel and Gretel’s woods without a GPS. I’m left with a compass that points slightly northeast no matter which way I face. I would have thought for what I paid for that box of Choco Chunk Sugar Goodness cereal it came in that the dial would shiver once in a while.

• I don’t know how to start an open flame in the rain. Rule No. 1 of camping — it always rains.

“Relax, Pop Pops,” my camping guide says. “Mom has waterproof matches.”

My fate is also in the hands of my daughter. I hope she isn’t still holding a grudge over Christmas.

I’m not completely unprepared. Years ago, I picked up a fancy, three-room tent. It claims assembly should take no more than 10 minutes. I stashed the tent in the garage near the pile of jagged wood chunks, misshapen dowel rods and snapped bolts from all those other projects that taunted me with alleged simple assembly.

With a hammer and nails, I can pound tent fabric to enough trees to afford me some semblance of shelter from the elements. It might look like a dining room blanket fort, but the flapping should scare off the hungry coyotes.

“Relax, Pop Pops,” my camping guide says. “I’ll set up your tent. It’s easy.”

I hope he’s still not holding a grudge about that birthday present.

Once the tent’s up and s’mores are roasting on an open flame, I’ll be free to crawl inside my temporary domicile and snuggle under my blankets over lumpy, bumpy, hard cold ground. This camping experience might tighten me up more than the Tin Man rusted rigid in a typical camping trip drenching.

“Relax, Pop Pops,” my camping guide says. “Mom has an extra puffy air mattress.”

I hope she’s not still holding a grudge about that birthday present.

This should be a fun and fantastic camping trip with my kids. But if I haven’t re-emerged from deep, dark woods by the time you read this, I want the world to know that I meant to be a more generous dad and grandpa. Honest.

Now come rescue me. With chocolate. And Pop-Tarts. And coyote repellent.

— Hit the trail with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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