The Camping Trip This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 3, 2012
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Noticing the shining sun streaming through the lined fabric of my tent, I reluctantly open my eyes to the garish light if day. Feeling sticks poking me in the back, I get up and open the zippered door to see if anyone else is up but to my dismay, when I crawl out of my one person tent, I instantly hear my brother and uncle snoring like bloodhounds on a warm summer afternoon.
My immediate thought is, “Man, now I have to clean the outhouse!” Walking over there in my pajamas and cam boots, I try to dodge around the hundreds of black walnut shells that litter the ground. But inevitably, I end up sprawled on the springy grass looking up at the crisp Iowa morning sky. After basking in the light glowing through the black walnut tree’s leaves, I get up and this time successfully make it over to the outhouse.
Opening the door and propping it ajar with a brick, I reach up to pull the light’s string and illuminate the small closet. I grab the broom from the corner and bang on the side of the toilet seat to make sure no critters are inside. Once I was sure, I get the toilet paper out of the old Folgers coffee container and set the toilet paper on top of it. After affirming the absence of daddy long leg spiders from the dark corners of the outhouse, I walk back out into the shining morning sun.
By this time, Uncle Mike is awake and is eating the black-cap berries I had picked with my mom the day before. I wake up my seven year old brother, Charles, and we scrounge through the cottage’s shed for something more to eat. Realizing the only thing edible in the shed is a can of tamales, we grab three fishing rods, a can of worms, and one cup of berries before we begin our walk to the docks to procure our breakfast.
“Now ya’ll make sure that if ya feel a rumble, ya get off the tracks real fats now, ya hear,” my Uncle Mike warns us.
Charles and I eagerly nod our heads in unison as we begin to hop from one tar covered railroad tie to the next for the rest of the mile long trek to the docks.
After we step off the tracks and onto the dirt road, Charles squeals and excitedly points down at a snake lying at the bottom of the cliff.
“Look little sis’! That snake’s eatin’ a gold fish,” Charles exclaims.
Uncle Mike informs us that the snake is a water moccasin and warns us that if we get bit, we will die a slow and painful death. We watch it with frightened fascination and then continue on the trail to the docks.
After many frustrating attempts, I find that I cannot hook the worm so I grab a berry and carefully press the hook through it and let the dark juices stain my fingers purple. I cast the line out and after a few minutes, I feel a tug. Jerking back the pole, I see a silver splash come out of the murky Mississippi water. Uncle Mike leaps up happily as I reel in the fish. It flops onto the wooden docks and Charles declares that it is a large-mouth bass but according Uncle Mike, the green and silver fish is too small, so I grab its lower jaw, work the hook out if its mouth, and toss it back. We then start the walk to the cottage after an unsuccessful but entertaining day on the docks.
When we get back, Charles grabs the tamales and a can opener and sits down on the unpainted handmade wooden picnic table. Mike opens the tamale can and distributes them between the three of us and we sit in the cool morning waiting for the heat of the day.





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