Election Distraction

I was going to call this post “A Cold Day in Hell” because it has been cold here! (Plus that’s funny, thanks Tracy.) But with the election happening this week I thought that sounds too alarmist, and we have enough alarms going off in the news.

So: What’s been going down in Tate’s Hell these days, with cold mornings (it was 35 F when I walked Banjo) and warmer afternoons?

Driving These Dirt Roads

Tracy’s been stuck around the campsite more than he’d like because my ankle still isn’t sturdy enough for us to get the kayaks down off the truck or for a serious hike. So we’ve been driving around Tate’s Hell State Park, dodging potholes on the Forest Service roads and checking out secluded campsites we could come back to next time through, when we have more solar installed and don’t need electricity hardly at all.

So that photo up top (God that’s disturbing, and I live with the guy!) is from an artisanal well that we thought we’d fill our five-gallon water jug from and then boost the Airstream’s water tank. OMG the sulphuric smell from it is too strong. Our camp host Glenn says, just let the jug sit with the lid off for a couple of days and the smell will dissipate, but we found a county water spigot down by the shore that we can fill with instead.

We will miss out on silly photo opportunities like this one, though, and Banjo will miss out on sinking into mud up past her fetlocks (do they use that term with dogs?) and having to have a bath. So, two situations averted.

Biking These Dirt Roads

I’m terrible at sitting even at the best of times, and right now I’m as restless as can be. So I’ve taken to riding my bike straight down the road here as hard as I can for 20-30 minutes, then riding back. It’s not a huge workout but it gets my ankle moving and makes me feel like I’m getting something done.

Nature-wise it’s a pretty uneventful ride. People-wise, it has me wondering while I’m biking, if I were to have an emergency, should I call 911 first or Tracy first? I was joking about this aloud to him but he confirmed: 911.

There are so few people out here. Seriously. When you do see someone, it’s a little freaky.

One day on my bike I got passed by something like ten pick-up trucks, which was what got me thinking about whom I would call first. These guys are looking for good spots to hunt as soon as the season starts for hunting deer with dogs, so sometimes they’re driving with dog crates in the back and howling dogs.

Here’s audio of a truck like that passing me.

I know people hunt with dogs all over the world, and, hell, I’ve even been fox hunting with them (in that context they’re always referred to as “hounds,” never ”dogs.” Dogs are so common.). But this sound is so plaintive that it freaks me out.

Plus of course the giant trucks flying by with nary a wave.

Other human-related things that give me the willies while bike riding:

  • The trailer compound right at the entrance to our road, with a fence around (of course) and several old travel trailers inside, a bunch of junk, a deer crossing sign, and a rebel flag flying proud. There’s another rebel flag flying across the street.
  • Less menacing but still present: the convict road crew clearing the brush at the main corner. Just, you know, something to startle you as you ride your bike by yourself along these otherwise deserted dirt roads.

Rebel and Hook

Tracy has been walking Banjo more than I have so has spotted actual wildlife: a black bear in the distance and several squished rattlesnakes that he’s identified as the Dusky Pygmy Rattler. Not really looking forward to seeing those alive.

The two critters who get our attention the most are the resident camp host dogs I’ve mentioned earlier: the absurdly rambunctious Jack Russell named Rebel (it’s a type of fishing lure, I’m told), and his buddy, the shepherd/lab mix, Hook.

This is their home, so they do what they please, off leash, of course. Hook mostly stays around the park model trailer that the camp hosts live in, sleeping under it during hot days. But he comes out to bark at mystery animals in the woods often enough.

Rebel, in true form, is ready to take on every living thing he thinks is out there. He’s snuck up on our campsite while Banjo was tied up at it (I was outside with her, of course), and Banjo went nuts, lunging under the trailer to get at Rebel. Since then Banj has had her hackles up pretty often looking for those dogs, and that hasn’t really helped my election anxiety.

After a run-in when Glenn and I met on the road with our dogs (Rebel and Hook off leash, Banjo on), and Banjo lunged at Rebel before I could screw my head on straight, Glenn has gotten the message (the one we gave him when we told him earlier that Banjo ain’t so great with off-leash dogs) and has his leashed now when he walks by our campsite.

It’s funny: at the brewery a few days ago, Banjo was cool as a cucumber surrounded by dogs. There were even off-leash dogs there: a couple belonging to the brewer and the guy making pizzas who were brought out to a clearing to pee. Banjo didn’t feel threatened. But Rebel and Hook live here and run with territorial verve, playing and barking and investigating. I would like these dogs a lot if their presence didn’t make Banjo feel threatened.

Our Reverse Trick or Treaters

We’ve been here by ourselves except for Halloween, which fell on a weekend when people swarm into campgrounds. We didn’t see a swarm, but maybe three or four campsites taken? It’s hard to tell in these woods.

We did have one pre-teen, lurking, evil clown who really wanted to scare Tracy by standing perfectly still in Tracy’s view from the hammock. Tracy dashed his hopes by ignoring him, and the poor clown ran away (his elbows and knees that didn’t know how to work right gave away his age).

But we did have a cute-as-pie family of trick or treaters, who made my day.

I love handing out candy and talking to the little kids. I always try to guess costumes, and I always wear one myself. This year is different (in oh so many ways), but while we were lounging around outside the trailer, this costumed family walked up. Well, Dad wasn’t wearing anything special, but Mom was a fairy or a princess or some such, and one little girl was Spider-man while the other was a very small bee.

The bee needed coaxing, but she and Spidey walked over with a couple of pieces of candy to our truck bumper and left them there, and I stepped closer so I could compliment them on their costumes and let them explain they were reverse trick or treating.

Then they bravely kept on walking down the path to find other campsites to deliver candy to. Sweeties. See, I do love small children (as long as they’re dressed in cute costumes and give me candy).

Okay, this took about an hour to write and edit and illustrate. How many more hours of unrest in the world? A million, I guess.

You guys stay safe out there. Here’s a shout-out to my friend Toby in Washington, D.C. with his crowd safety training.

2 thoughts to “Election Distraction”

  1. Little kids in costumes are so adorable and I think the shy bee leaving a lolly on the bumper might have been too much for me. 🥺