Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Camping (07/11/05)
TITLE: When the Going Gets Tough
By Lois Jennison Tribble
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Think of the advantages! If we wait long enough, the bears hibernate and we needn't entertain them. And fish come with ice: just chop the hole and pack it with you and forget the ice machine. I'd better shut up, or we'll find you in our campsite and need a new one. Death Valley, here we come?
Late October just shy of Mt. Whitney: we're roaring around the shivering campfire -- all five of us. The kids are shaking with enthusiasm, anticipating this evening's entertainment eagerly for months now. Well...at least Michael seems prepared: he brought his dummies. OOPS...<i>partners</i>, I should say, using ventriloquist vernacular. Patty remembered sheets, clothesline, and pins for the stage curtains, but sulked when she realized she'd forgotten her act.
Dad to the rescue: who else could improvise a "Garden Annie" routine, disguising his darling in scarf and hunting boots? With Patty perched on his lap, he pulled her strings and kept us howling -- later the campground attendants apologized for the clamoring coyotes. Did I mention Dad did animal impressions as an encore?
Fail to plan and you plan to fail: concentrating on packing, I overlooked talent night. So what, until Danny made the darn thing competitive, dangling a prized pack of Paydays before us. I can't understand him risking <i>those</i> -- normally he won't even <i>share</i> them! Danny takes after me: besides playing the radio, his main talent is acting as audience.
I must do <i>something</i>. After Mike awed us with a harmonica concerto, I was ready to throw in the towel; but I've been Dad's wife too long for that. Adapt and overcome.
Danny looks too smug: he must have swiped my joke book. Funny how it disappeared while I was packing. Drat! If he found that "BC" (aka "Camp Facilities") joke, even Michael's goose is cooked!
Okay: now it's my turn. Mt. Whitney. Hmmmm...not a funny story, but at least I'll go down kicking: "My first camping trip was at Mt. Whitney," I began. "I grew up with flatlanders, green to camp--"
"How green?" Michael interrupted. Oh no -- <i>SABOTAGE!</i> He must really want those Paydays!
"Green as a 'gator gobbling <i>you</i>," I answered, scowling. "I don't know how, but we came to Whitney Portals with another family even greener than mine. DON'T ASK HOW GREEN!"
Michael resisted, but not for long as he slipped his hand inside Louie the Lion.
"Without training, preparation, supplies, equipment -- we simply decided to scale Mt. Whitney -- climbing over 6,000 feet in eleven miles to its summit -- as a day hike. Three pairs of fools in sneakers, ranging from fifteen to forty-five. Only the women had sense enough to stay in camp, munching bonbons."
At least I had their attention. "We fell by the wayside two by two, but not before I lost my big toe nails. IF YOU ASK ME HOW I LOST THEM, SO HELP ME..."
Good: Louie chose to swallow his words instead of my fist!
"At nightfall, only two were left on the mountain: your Aunt Jenny at eighteen, and twenty-year-old Robbie Matheson."
"I'll bet Grandma and Grandpa loved that!" Danny snickered.
"You're right. They were in real danger: no food, water, shelter -- nothing. And you can't believe how cold Mt. Whitney gets at night!"
"How cold <i>does</i> it get?" asked Louie.
"As cold as a meatlocker: wanna try it?" No fair -- I actually gave him a setup!
"So what happened?" Patty prompted.
"God planned a solution before we were even aware of a problem. Halfway down the mountain they met some Boy Scouts, camping overnight. And do you know who was leading them?"
"No: are you going to tell us?" Dad asked, cutting to the chase as usual.
"Aunt Jenny's favorite high school teacher! Can you believe that? Things were tense in <i>our</i> camp that night, what with Grandpa's near heart attack and two teens missing, but Jenny and Robbie hadn't a care in the world! They learned when the going gets tough...God provides."
Danny looked anxious. "Is it my turn, now?"
It <i>must</i> be the "BC" joke. Why else would he wager his precious Paydays? Things could be worse: at least I won't be tempted to break my diet.
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