I KNOW IT WAS YOU, FIDO. YOU BROKE MY HEART
by Todd Hartley
For Memorial Day weekend, as we’ve done the past few years, my wife, my son, my dog and I headed to Utah to go camping with some friends. The difference this year was that we had to make room for our newest family member, a rambunctious mix of German shorthaired pointer, Australian shepherd and border collie who is not yet the well-behaved pooch and loyal companion that her older sister is.
In addition to three people, a large dog and a hyperactive, 8-month-old puppy, here’s what we had in our Toyota Highlander: 12 beers, one full-size cooler, one cooler bag, one tent, one queen-size air mattress, one battery-operated mattress pump, three camp chairs, three sleeping bags, three pillows, two duffel bags full of clothes, three backpacks, one large box of kitchen stuff, one propane stove, one collapsible camp table, one large jug of water, two climbing helmets, three bicycling helmets, one bag of nonperishable food, one bag of dog food and one brand-new set of junior golf clubs.
After shoehorning ourselves into what little room was left in the car, we drove for 51/2 hours Friday night to an area near the base of the remote Henry Mountains, the last range in the Lower 48 to be added to the map. We arrived around midnight and made camp in the dark, which is something we’ve become adept at doing because we never seem to get started early enough to make camp in the daylight.
Here’s something we didn’t pack in the car and didn’t camp anywhere near: a toilet. This, as always, presented a dilemma for yours truly because while a bear may do its business in the woods, I consider the toilet a perfect invention and strive to utilize one wherever I do my business.
We had toilet paper and little shovels, of course, but those are a far cry from the real thing. Plus, camping etiquette mandates that one retain and dispose of used toilet paper, which is a concept so disgusting that I apologize for even mentioning it. I will go to great lengths to avoid such a situation.
On Saturday, my wife hung out with our son and the dogs at the campsite while I went canyoneering with three friends. If you’ve never heard of canyoneering, you’re not alone; it’s not the most well-known pastime. In addition to five-hour drives to Utah, canyoneering involves hiking, rock climbing, rappelling and sometimes swimming one’s way down narrow slot canyons that can be deathtraps in the event of a flash flood. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s really fun.
On Sunday, it was my wife’s turn to go canyoneering, but she graciously offered to let me go again if I so desired. Having awoken with a sense of gastrointestinal urgency brought on by 36 hours of continence, I turned down my wife’s offer, and then I quickly got my son and the dogs in the car and drove 40 miles to Bullfrog Basin, a quasi-town and marina on Lake Powell where I knew there were public restrooms.
Don’t get me wrong: There’s water and a beach and a restaurant and other stuff, and we did all that, but priorities are priorities. I had business to attend to first.
Back at the campsite, unburdened and refreshed after a day at the lake, I noticed that my elder dog had taken a shine to a male friend of ours and seemed to be shadowing him around the campsite. I thought it amusing but a little insulting that she would prefer his company to mine after seven years of food, friendship and tennis-ball throwing, but I let it slide. The puppy, meanwhile, continued to be a good-natured pest to everyone present.
Later that night, after a few beers, I nodded off in a chair while stargazing. Taking it as a sign that it was time to hit the tent, I woke the puppy, who dutifully came with me and curled up in the vestibule right next to my wife’s head. I noticed that my older dog was absent, so I glanced around and spied her sleeping right next to the other guy’s tent. Then, the next day when it was time to go, she did so only reluctantly after spending the morning at his feet.
I have a friend who just got a puppy and named him Fredo after the traitorous brother of Michael Corleone in the “Godfather” movies. I might have to ask him if I can borrow the name.
Todd “Moe Green” Hartley made his bones when you were going out with cheerleaders.