By JP Garza
“A one-night camping trip in the Uinta Mountains is my idea of the perfect get-to-know-you kind of date,” Jeff announced as he measured the wind speed using his digital anemometer. He wrote down the wind read on his waterproof notebook. “This is really my element out here in the woods. The mountains, streams, and trees; this is all me. This is where I feel most at home. It’s almost like I was born to explore the great outdoors. And I am hoping to find out that this is also your vibe.”
Becky held a big smile, encouraging herself to be positive. She was a little nervous since the last time she went camping was with her parents the summer before her high school senior year. She remembered having fun on that trip. However, she didn’t have to do anything since her parents did all the work while she sat and read novels in front of a warm campfire.
Jeff and Becky work together in the same office, only in different departments. They know each other, but they are not very close yet. After going to dinner only twice with Jeff, he managed to twist her arm into agreeing to a camping date. He did promise they would sleep in two separate tents, so why was she still a little unsure? Becky decided to give her best, optimistic self and try to have a great time.
Jeff took out instruments to measure the relative humidity in the air. He then stopped and asked, “Um, Becky, you did bring the hotdogs, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did bring a package of hotdogs, made out of tofu per your request,” Becky replied as she struggled to carry a heavy cooler from her car trunk to the picnic table. “I just forgot to bring any condiments. Did you happen to bring a bottle of mustard?”
“Well, to answer your question, my answer is no. No, I did not bring a bottle of mustard,” Jeff said, casually staring at Becky. “I brought two bottles of mustard, stone ground and sweet honey.”
“Okay, good,” Becky replied, slightly annoyed with Jeff’s attempt to be funny.
Jeff chuckled at his response while he shook his head. “So anyway, say, listen, I wanted to ask you, how are you fixed for layers out here? It will cool down a tad at night, you’re going to want to be able to add a layer if needed. Basically, the general rule of thumb I like to tell all novice outdoor recreationists is that you want to be able to add or take away a layer depending on whether you feel your body temperature rise, or whether you feel it fall,” Jeff explained using both hands to illustrate the continuum. “So anyway, the question was, how are you fixed for layers?”
“Well, I brought my sweat jacket and my big coat.”
“Big coat?” Jeff laughed. “Is that the technical term?”
“Well, it’s a heavier coat, I just call it my big coat.”
“Becky, I have a medium-weight base layer under this fleece hoodie. When it gets cold, I will add a down jacket, probably an 800 fill, to hold in my body heat. If it begins to rain, I will put on a waterproof shell,” Jeff said with a sparkle in his eye.
Becky slowly nodded her head, her mouth turning down into a defined grimace as she began setting up two padded camping chairs around the fire pit.
“Jeff, did you call anyone from our office and let them know we would be camping together this weekend?” Becky asked, feeling a little uncomfortable with Jeff’s communication.
“No, I did not call anyone,” Jeff said as he began to drive a tent stake into the soft ground. “I did email our assistant regional manager and explained to him we are away this weekend on a camping trip in the mountains.”
Becky sighed, partially in relief a party from the office was aware they were away together and the other part in frustration with another one of Jeff’s quirky responses.
Becky was snapped out of her train of thought when something caught her eye. “Oh, my God, Jeff, look! There’s a rabbit hopping around that tree!”
Jeff turned and faced the tree. After a few seconds, he replied, “I don’t see what you are talking about.”
“Jeff, it’s right there underneath the tree!”
He continued staring in the direction of the tree. “Well, I see a snowshoe hare feeding on spruce twigs near the tree, but I’m sorry, I just simply don’t see a rabbit.”
This is getting old, Becky thought. Focusing on something else, she grabbed a lantern and began prepping it for when they lose their sun. “Hey Jeff, maybe before we crank this lantern up tonight, we could do some star-gazing. I wonder if we could see Ol’ Ryan’s Belt from here?”
Jeff’s looked at Becky with puzzlement. “Oh, interesting, I never knew that constellation was called Ol’ Ryan’s Belt. I guess you truly learn something new every day; I always thought it was called Orion’s Belt.”
Becky had enough. She set down the lantern and slowly walked to her car and cranked it up without saying a word. Placing the car in reverse, she backed out of the campsite. She shot one last look at Jeff in the rearview mirror. He was pulling out a lensatic compass from his backpack. Jeff didn’t even notice that Becky was in her car.
Becky drove away from the campground. A smile spread across her face. She planned on finding the nearest hotel and treating herself to a night of room service. She would put on the hotel’s plush bathrobe and watch romantic movies on a comfy bed. Becky couldn’t help but giggle at the thought of wild animals chasing Jeff up a tree with all his mustard bottles and layers. Hopefully not dropping anything on top of the hares, not rabbits, that lived below.