What should have been a two-hour trip took four hours! The path Chloe and I chose looked like a shortcut on the map. We didn’t take into consideration that the shortcut was a one-lane gravel road that had a speed limit of 35 miles an hour. I was getting restless! “Dad, we have been on this road for an hour and haven’t seen one single person, much less a police officer! Can’t we drive faster, say 50 miles an hour?” “Dogwood, the speed limit is 35. That’s the law and a rule that we will follow whether anybody is looking or not. Besides, the 35 mile speed limit is for our safety.” “Yes sir, I’m sorry. I guess shortcuts don’t always mean faster!” Dad agreed and told me to relax and enjoy the scenery. While we looked at the trees, the streams and the occasional houses we passed, I entertained by playing my harmonica. We tried to play Name that Tune, but I kept stumping my family! They couldn’t name one single one!
Finally, after four hours, three games of I Spy, and at least 50 times asking, “Are we there yet?” we finally arrived at the Daniel Boone Campground! Everything about it was awesome! While Dad paid our camping fee and talked with the Park Ranger, Mom, Chloe, and I stretched. I looked at Chloe who looked serious. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Nothing, Woody, I am just soaking it all in – the sight of green trees around us, the smell of honeysuckle, the cool way grass feels under my paws, and the warm sun on my ears! Don’t you feel it too?” I stopped and closed my eyes. “Yes, I feel it too!”
It occurred to me I had spent so much time indoors playing my WOOF game that it had been a while since I had played outside. I’d been missing out on some really great sights, sounds and smells. Closing my eyes like Chloe, I was imagining that I was a great frontiersman like Daniel Boone blazing a trail or Davy Crockett fighting off a bear! I was adjusting my imaginary coonskin cap when Dad arrived and announced we were all set.
“Where should we pitch our tent?” Chloe barked. “PITCH our tent? Chloe, if we throw away our tent, where we will sleep?” Looking at Chloe, I saw her shaking her head and giggling. “Really, Woody,” Chloe said, “If you’re going to be a survivor, you should at least know camping terms. Pitching a tent doesn’t mean we are throwing it away, it means we’re assembling our tent, or setting it up.” I thought about playing it cool and saying, “I knew that. I was checking to see if you did,” but Chloe knew better. Besides, she was right – I did need to know the lingo.
Mom was always saying that having a hefty vocabulary was part of being successful. “Woody, if you know the meaning of a lot of words, you can better communicate with people, understand others more clearly, read a variety of books, learn about various subjects, and survive in most any situation.” Once again, Mom was right. My limited vocabulary had just made it difficult to communicate. I was learning that a good rule of survival was being able to communicate with others – and a good vocabulary was important. I made a note to self: Find my dictionary and get to know Mr. Webster as soon as we returned home.
As I was pondering my resolution, Chloe barked, “It says in my camping book that choosing a spot for the tent is important. We need to make sure that we are on high, level ground. That way, if it rains, water and mud won’t slide down on us.” “What else does it say?” I asked. “Well,” Chloe continued, “We need to be close enough to a stream so we can have easy access to water. We need to have trees around us that will provide shade and limbs to hang things on, but we have to watch out for dead branches. We wouldn’t want to take a chance on them falling on us.
One more thing - which way should our tent face?” This was a question I could answer. “How about east? That way, the sun will wake us up every morning!” Taking all those things into consideration, we finally found a large piece of ground that we all agreed on! As Dad pulled the tent out of the box, Chloe and I couldn’t believe the name of our tent...