Day 5- addendum: the Creeper

My eyes fly open and I lay still, listening. 

Crunch. Crunch. The distinct sound of footsteps approach. 

A million thoughts race through my head…the gate’s locked. No one is camping near me. I am completely alone.  The bathroom is in the other direction. The couple in their camper won’t hear me scream…

The steps draw closer and Rocky growls. 

A light  shines  into my tent. 

“Hello,” I call. “What do you need?” 

Inside my intestines clench.

The light goes out. 

Rocky barks frantically.

The footsteps continue–Hard soled, landing heavily in the dry dry earth. 

I grope in the darkness for my light and turn it on.

The foot steps are alongside my tent.

I grip my tazer in one hand and knife in the other. For the first time ever, I wish I had a gun. 

My heart pounds so hard  that it drowns out the footsteps

I don’t breathe. I don’t  move. 

The footsteps move away and down into the wash that runs alongside my campsite. 

I set the tazer on my lap and pick up my phone. Should I dial 911? I look at the screen…No Service. 

Silence.

Minutes pass.

Silence. 

Half hour passes. 

I unzip my tent and shine my light around my site. 

Empty. 

I lay down. 

The footsteps move out of the wash and back toward my tent. 

I stop breathing. 

I pray.

The steps move away. 

I grip the knife handle. I’m on the ground. I’ll go for the femoral artery. No bones to protect it. 

Silence.

An hour. 

Silence.

Two hours.

I lay down, still clutching the knife.   

2:50 in the morning. I hear the snorting of a wild pig.

3:15–I smell a skunk. 

4:50 — Digging and snuffling near one of the trash cans 

6:00 — daylight

Lesson…I will never again choose the isolated campsite. 

FYI:  NOT kidding. 

Day 5: There and Back

 I am awake. And I’m excited, not just because of the amazing sunrise or the way the sun sets the mountains behind me on fire! 

    
 I am excited because today,  for the first time, I know where I am going. Years ago I visited Collosal Cave Mountain Park and fell in love with the surrounding desert, so when I realized that I could make this one of my stops I was ecstatic. I am ready to go back! But I’m also working on embracing the here and now, so before I hit the road, Rocky and I set out to explore one of the trails at Rock Hound State Park. 

On our journey, I spot a cottontail. He freezes on the path, waits for us to get closer than hops a little farther down the path. I can’t help wondering if I’m following Peter Cottontail down his bunny trail or if I’m Alice being led to wonderland!   

 At the end of my walk, I notice this sign. And I think: if this was the end of the road for me, it’s a good place to be.  

 On my way back to the interstate I discover a Walmart!!  Yay! So happy to stock up on real food.

In the parking lot I meet, Tim.  He strides over to my car with his white cowboy hat, black vest, faded jeans and cowboy boots wearing a smile beneath his oh-so-western mustache and a sparkle in his blue eyes and says, “Maine, now you’re a long way from home.” 

I spent the next half hour learning bout Tim: retired after thirty years in the military, Forester, engineer and now Pecan Farmer.  He tips me off to breakfast at Si Senorita and I have my first Mexican breakfast…Yum!!   

 Per my usually ADHD while driving,  I wander off the interstate in search of another historical Fort. This time I find it!  Rocky and I head down the 1.5 mile trail to the fort. He really isn’t up to the task and I find myself carrying him most of the way. 

  

  

  

After about a mile I am stopped by two border control officers. They want me to know that they are after an illegal who is here in the woods. He’s wearing a red hoodie. I hesitate for a moment, then decide to finish my hike. 

I meet a few people, but no red hoodies. And here’s where I’ll probably irritate a few people. When I think of illegal immigrants, I don’t want them crossing the border illegally…but then I think of the person and I wonder what they are running from that would drive them over the mountains and into this desert.  It’s easy to feel strongly about a concept, but more difficult to apply that to a living, breathing person. 

 I considered another tale about finding the illegal hidden away in my car….

I arrive at Collosal Cave and it’s everything I remember. 

    
   
Camping is only $5 and there are only two other people in the section of the campground I’m. I pick a site way in the back so that I can have privacy for the first time this week!  

 The one strange thing… The gate to the campground is locked at 5 and opened at 7:30 am. There is no cell reception, but if need to, I can run a 1/4 mile to the 911 phone that rings automatically to the sheriff.  

Filled with plans for morning and thankful that it’s not dropping below 60 tonight, I settle in to sleep.