The rain didn’t start until I approached the gates of the park my pre-purchased campsite was stored in. It still baffles me that people must pay for a campsite. I remember being a kid and camping up and down the roads until we arrived at our destination, but now it is a taxed escape and another one to add to the list.
I received my day pass for a hefty 8 bucks and began the slow winding trek of the road to campsite 21. Coincidentally, 21, happens to be the number of times I interacted with a small masked rodent that planted his roots in my campsite prior to his knowledge of my existence.
He was fearless, or friendly, or both, but most of all, a nuisance to me. It was a happy nuisance, as in it made me laugh with disbelief when he crawled right up to my tote full of camping gear and tried to pry it open with me standing a mere arms length away. I shooed him with a growl and a tornado of arm swings and he disappeared into the brush that literally spanned a full 360 degrees around my campsite — minus a narrow path that led you back to the parking spot — making it nearly impossible to track him.
The leafs that teeter on the long branches above covered me from most of the rain that was coming down, which helped me stay somewhat dry while I pitched my tent, started my fire — not an easy task with the damp sticks I collected from the campsite around me — and started to cook dinner, but sure enough my gracious raccoon host presented himself again when I opened my package of hotdogs and buns. He peered cautiously from a branch at first so I tossed a rock in his direction in hopes it would scare him away, I was wrong. He moved slightly but still peered with curiosity. I could see his small mischievous eyes staring at me.
So I started to close up everything that I did not need immediately but with my back turned, the masked thief, he saw an opportunity to step up to my gear again. He rattled around in a plastic bag I was using as a trash bag. I heard the commotion and again ran at him with my tornado arms and baritone growls. He ran but not far, he had caught on to my tactics and realized — maybe — I was all bark and no bite.
He climbed a tree and balanced his way to the end of a branch that was just out of my 6′ 1″ frame’s reach. I could have jumped and touched him, but was somewhat afraid of him — or the idea of him.
I had heard stories of raccoons being vicious and that nearly all of them carried the rabies virus, whether this one did or not didn’t matter, I was not going to let him bite my ass.
So, I tried a new tactic, fearfully disregarding his presence.
Growing up with horses I learned that animals could sense fear, that must have been this coon’s upper hand on me, because he climbed down the tree and approached my eating area again — staring me in the face the whole way — but this time I was armed with a hotdog poker, so I swung at him. I connected on his back leg/rear haunch area.
He skittered off again, but it broke my cheap telescoping hotdog poker — it’s a good thing I had two of them.
I did not see him again for several hours. It was deep into the night now, I was as they say — and everyone knows “they” are specialists — two sheets to the wind and happy. The rain finally stopped and I was chatty Cathy on the phone with my friends a mere 8 hours away. After speaking to about half the contacts in my cell phone, I called my close friend Drake.