If youíre going camping donít forget the rope.
Because if you do, youíll fret about it.
Rope is one of those items that tops the list of campers because it is versatile.
That means it can be used for a lot of stuff like tying dripping pans to a tree branch so they can drip dry, or permanently tying tent flaps open. It can also be used for tying the dog to the bumper, so he or she doesnít get too close to the marshmallow drippings in the fire ring to singe fur resulting in that burned wet dog smell lingering in your camp like a neighbor from unit 12 who insists on sharing a stump and talking about his sisterís eczema.
And drinks the liquids you brought for your fellow campers.
And talks a lot about rope.
He prefers real hemp because it has staying power, he says, and memory.
Which means it can pretty much tie itself.
And the compass, donít forget that when youíre packing in preparation of a camping trip, because your camping spot, in fact the entire drainage, and the drainages surrounding yours, the little nooks and crannies where you may find yourself as youíre hiking out of a honey hole at dusk, may have fallen off the GPS entirely, and then what?
Or, it could be that the batteries on your phone or global positioning system are plumb dead as a burned snag from the 1910 fire that at first looked like a bear in the waning light, so far from your own friendly, warm and comfortable fire ring, but hasnít moved in a while, so it canít be a bear, right?
A compass, therefore is a must.
The kind preferred most by real woodspeople is something called a lensatic M-1950 that comes in the cool olive drab from the surplus store, so if you drop it day or night, you can simply unsnap your belt flashlight and get on your hands and knees like a wild animal unleashing your inner predator, as you seek the compass that you hope can get you back to camp before daylight, because after that you are out of options.
So bring a belt flashlight, too.
These are among the tens of items ó maybe a hundred ó I put on my list when I go camping, which is something I have a hankering for, and hope to knock off the list of summer things to do before summer slips into the school year like a roadside gopher into a roadside hole your kids used to be enamored with as if it were TV. As if the gopher could peek out as they all crouched near the round tunnel opening that obviously led to a netherworld they did not understand, as they stuffed pebbles down the hole with a look that told you they evolved with smallish cave rodents.
If they havenít yet, they will learn that in school.
When it starts.
But before then, if you go camping get some totes and fill them with stuff like books and lanterns and extra sleeping bags and several changes of clothing and stuff some chocolate in there while youíre at it, and double up on camp stoves and a half-dozen bottles of propane, and then tie it all down with twine in the back of your pickup truck and secure the dog kennel too, because there is no room for a dog in the extended cab.
Better idea: forego the twine.
Get some rope.
It holds better, and if itís made of hemp, it can probably tie itself.
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Ralph Bartholdt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.