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Crockett never needed tent poles

Common GroundBill Kight

My youngest daughter, Amber, and I decided at the last minute that we wanted to go camping before the cold winds of the coming winter blew snow our way.Not wanting to make this a major expedition, we chose Red Mountain outside Carbondale as our preferred destination. We left directions with “Mom” as well as the time to expect us back, and if we weren’t home by two hours after our deadline, to start the search routine.Getting the necessary gear together for even one night out in the woods is as much a hassle as planning on being gone for a week.No one seemed to remember the last time they saw the one-cup coffee filter holder I take with me on every overnight trip. We made a brave but brief attempt of looking for it.Brave because no one wants to venture into the dark spider-infested storage area under our stairs. Brief because we needed an excuse to head to our favorite outdoor adventure store and shop for new gear.I feel the need for an armed guard escort every time we decide to buy new-fangled outdoor fun things. That comes from remembering what it was like more than 40 years ago when the only gear to choose from was army surplus stuff. It was cheap.The last time we outfitted Amber for a set of “you’ll never get cold” thermal undergarments I felt like I’d been robbed. It was worth it though to see my teenager embarrassed when I asked the clerk where the “long johns” were.We were lucky this time to leave the store with a few dollars still in our pockets.It was well past noon before we were ready to leave.”Got the tent poles, Dad?” my wife, Linn, asked on our way out the door.It’s a longstanding family joke that I have to endure every camping trip. Linn will never let me live down the time she and I camped out and I forgot the tent poles. At the time, she was eight months pregnant with our first daughter. The rest of the story is best left to the imagination.When you’re finally on the road and headed to the haven of outdoor heaven, it’s hard to describe the feeling of freedom. Tent poles? Who needs ’em? Davy Crockett never worried about tent poles.My family says I was born too late, that I’d be happy living in a tipi.We only made one mistake this trip. We took the dog.It would take another column to tell why you shouldn’t take very young children and dogs camping.Making good memories is what living is all about. And the best place to make memories with your kids is camping. We had fun even though we took the dog.And the bears? Forget about the bears. They were all in town. We still tied our food stuff sack from a tall tree far from camp.Forgetful, yes. Stupid? No.Writing with more than 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight of Glenwood Springs shares his stories with readers every other week.Writing with more than 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight of Glenwood Springs shares his stories with readers every other week.


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