Friday, September 29, 2023

Two Old Coots and the Tow-headed kid


I was sleeping that great way you can when it's cold out and the only way to stay warm is to keep the sleeping bag pulled up the way up over your head. You know it's dark outside and getting out of that bag merely means the pain of the upcoming day is about to begin. Sure, there will be wonderful sunrises and sunsets. The sky will be clear and blue, and the leaves will be in the midst of changing to the vibrant colors that happen in the fall. will be seeing and feeling all of that while carrying a large pack with tent, sleeping bag, and all of the supplies for 5 days on your back while marching uphill with small breaks to eat some food that tastes like something from a vending machine that hasn't been serviced in five years. Yes, there are times when it seems like the best part of the day is right before you crawl out of that sleeping bag.

At some point, I looked at my watch and marveled that it still seemed dark at 7am, and thought, if we don't get going, the uphill marching will continue farther into the night than I might prefer. I pulled on enough clothes to make it worth venturing out to attempt a decent cup of coffee.  I had the tent half unzipped when this head floated into view, saying "I have a great deal for you!". It took me a minute to register where I was, who I was, and I had to hold my hand up, while I realized that it was Levi, my grand nephew, the only 12 year-old I'd ever met that wanted to go backpacking with a couple of old guys. Levi kind of reminded me of myself at 12 years old, except that I remember me as being a shy bookworm, that loved science fiction, and books in general, much more than any physical activity. If this kid had any of my DNA, it was polished up, and refocused in a totally different direction. He was tall, thin, with a shock of blonde hair, and a personality that knew no enemies, just prospective friends. He was smart and could talk a mile a minute, and that's what was happening now. We had arrived on this trip with me in a solo tent and Levi and his grandfather sharing a two-man tent. The idea was that Levi might be scared sleeping alone in the woods and having his PopPop nearby might offer some comfort. This was our first morning after sleeping under the stars and Levi already decided the sleeping arrangements could be improved. 

    "So, I could sleep in your tent tonight and you and PopPop could sleep in the other tent together!" My guess was Levi was thinking I might enjoy Paul's snoring, and Paul might enjoy mine. I almost felt sorry for the kid for a hot moment and then replied, "You're on your own, kid. I got my tent and that's where I'm sleeping!"


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