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Rated: E · Short Story · Other · #1963212
The escapades of a couple while on a road trip to the Grand Canyon
Escapade at the Grand Canyon

Several years ago my wife and I decided to go cross country via a SUV, a nine by twelve tent, with an inflatable air mattress. Now mind you, we had camped before but those times were either in the back of a camper body mounted on the bed of a pickup truck or we were in a self-contained camper known as a Pleasure Way.

The fun part came while in Grand Canyon National Park. Unfortunately we hadn’t known how far we would get when we started out that warm summer day but we were pretty sure that we would reach the Grand Canyon before nightfall. So, off we went with the dream that we would end the day by camping in our tent on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It was about five o’clock when we pulled into the first ranger station at the park and were somewhat disappointed when the guard told us that the park was full and that there were no sites available. But, apparently we looked so forlorn that he felt sorry for us. He agreed that what he would do was allow us to go from his station into the campsite to the next guard station because, as he put it, the next guard station would be able to tell us if they had any cancellations. While he couldn’t promise us anything, perhaps there was a cancellation and if so, he felt certain that the second guard would allow us to spend the night in place of those that cancelled.

As luck would have it, there was a space, albeit a huge one (one that was designed for one of the larger motor driven units that would pull right in and set up). While concerned that the site might be too big for us, we told the guard we were just appreciative of the fact that they had a spot. We did not have any problems setting up our little tent in a big campsite. Besides we were only going to be there one evening. Once inside the camping grounds we found our site and instead of setting up our tent where the motor home would have been parked, (close to the road), we decided to get closer to the rim. Not being too familiar with camping with a tent, I did receive some advice prior to leaving home and that was that I should be sure to dig a ditch all around the tent once it had been set up. Also, make sure the stakes that would hold the tent down so that it did not slide were pounded into the ground as deep as possible. Why, you ask? Because in the event it rained while we were sleeping, the rain would enter the ditch and be diverted away from the tent allowing us to remain high and dry! So, that is what we did. Once the tent was up, the next thing to do was to inflate the air mattress. I had no idea how much room a queen-size air mattress takes up inside a 9x12 tent? Quite a bit, I might add! We centered the mattress in the middle of the floor of the tent leaving us with about eighteen inches to walk around it in a hunched up position. Dressing and undressing was also a unique experience but we managed.

Now the sun is rapidly dropping in the sky and due to all the exertion I had to excuse myself and run to the bathroom. Exit – stage right!

Okay, potty break over, I return to my lovely wife and admire our excellent job of setting up the tent. As we are standing there admiring our handiwork, my wife informs me that the guy in the next campsite came by while I was indisposed and asked her if we were sure that we wanted to leave the tent set up where we had put it. I asked her what his reasoning was because it looked okay to me. She informed me that the guy was concerned about the fact that we were on an incline and was afraid that during the night the tent might slide from its spot. Now this becomes a bit of a concern because we were approximately twenty feet from the edge of the rim of the Grand Canyon and as most people know there are no guard rails or anything protecting you from going over the edge into the canyon itself.

Checking all the stakes I had dug deep into the ground to hold the tent in place and looking past the tent, I informed my wife, it doesn’t appear to be that steep of an incline, and asked, “What do you think?” Being the eternal optimist she is and without taking a breath, she eyes up the tent but her stare actually looks beyond the tent towards the rim of the canyon and says, “I agree with you, the incline doesn’t look all that steep – and besides – looking in a direct line from our tent to the edge of the rim of the canyon – if we do slide during the night, that big tree yonder about ten feet in front of where we are standing is almost centered in the path the tent would follow if it lets loose during the night. Wondering what she meant, “I asked, “And your point?” She smiled and replied, “That tree will break our slide.”

Well, the mere fact that I am writing this story tells everyone that the tent did not go careening down the incline dumping us in the Grand Canyon. We did learn that, yes, we were on an incline because during the night when I got up to go to the bathroom I noticed that the air mattress had slid to the bottom of the tent. So, had I not staked the tent as good as I did, we may have ended up wrapped around that tree.

Suffice it to say that while it was an experience – that was the last year we went camping with a tent and an air mattress. We had purchased a Pleasure Way motor home a few years later and spent the next few years camping in it. Now that we no longer have that motor home, when asked the question: If you ever take another road trip cross-country, how would you do it?

My response would consist of just two words “Residence Inns!”

Copyright © Written by Irwin Lengel November 17, 2013

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