Though I have never lived in the Middle East or even in a real desert, I have had a number of exciting adventures involving camels. If you promise to be very good and eat all your vegetables, I will tell you of them...

Several years ago, I went with my family to the zoo in Garden City, Kansas. It's a very nice zoo in a very nice town, and it was a lot of fun to stroll around and look at the animals. Anyway, we were standing at the big camel pen, and I was talking to a young camel who had come up to the fence to look at us. My dad was taking some photos of the camel and me grinning at each other, when the camel's pappy decided he wanted to see what all the fuss was about. He came trotting up to the fence, and we eyed him nervously--he was bigger, shaggier, and a bit scarier-looking than the youngster. Then, when he got to the fence, he opened his mouth, rolled his nasty-looking tongue at us, and made a big camel noise at us.

"BLLUUARRRAAARRPP!"


The whole family ran like craven cowards.

Anyway, a few years later, I was working for a small-town Texas newspaper as a reporter and photographer when a circus came to town, and I got assigned to go get some pictures of the carnies setting up the big top. It wasn't much of a circus--many of their animals were horses, sheep, and cattle. They had some lions, tigers, and elephants, but they were firmly locked away.

Luckily, they had a couple of camels in a pen out in the open, so I decided they'd make great photographic subjects. I had to climb up on the sides of their pen to get a good shot, but I'd done this same trick before at rodeos and had no trouble taking pictures while midway up a fence.

Anyway, I climbed up the fence, got a good focus on one of the camels, and suddenly felt something touching my arm. I looked down to find the other camel nuzzling my hand. Expecting him to try to bite me, I moved farther away from him. He followed, this time nuzzling up to my camera. Realizing that he thought my camera might be edible, I leaned back, got the camel to lean toward me, and snapped a gorgeous photo that went on the front page that afternoon.

So there's my tale of two camels. Now run up to bed before your mama catches you up!