Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Camping with Critters

I feel like today is one of my first lazy days in a while. I've arrived in Colorado, my last stop of this road trip. I need to do a hike today but am tentatively leaving that until this afternoon and trying to catch you up on my goings on :). 

Where did I leave off.....yes my last night of camping. I went to the western side of Shawnee and found a $10 campground. I was basically the only camper there. There was another group further back, but I couldn't see or hear them, so it felt like I had the place to myself. I set up camp, had some dinner and retired to the tent. One of the guys from the other camp came up near the front of the campground, where I was, with his flashlight looking for water. But there was none to be found and he promptly left. It is nerve wracking to hear sounds and not see anything though. So I opened a flap on each side of my tent and started to read my book. 

Walking stick at my campsite (middle left, crawling up over the chunky stick)

I had brought an apple and string cheese into the tent with me for a late treat. I again got nervous about food in my tent and threw the leftover apple core out a ways (I can get it in the morning) and left the string cheese outside the tent. As I read my book, I thought I heard sounds outside the tent. No flashlights to be seen and it's about 10pm, so the insects were loud and it was pitch black. 

I decided it was time to sleep, turned off my light and laid down. Now I hear everything. And I begin to really freak myself out. I swear I hear movement outside the tent. I'm fairly close to my car. I can't see anything though. I hit the lock buttons on the car to see if they will show me anything. Nothing. But it was a quick flash of the hazard lights. I hit the lock button twice, the lights flashed and the car beeped. That did it - "they" scurried! Oh man now I knew something was out there because I heard them all run away. I still didn't know what "they" were. 

Now it's dark again and I swear I hear them advancing. My mind is running with what it could be. I lie still. I think I hear them to the right, where my car is. I look. I still can't see well, but I convince myself I see raccoons crawling all over my car. All that separates me from them is a mesh screen. I get my headlamp out and at the right time, shine it at the car. Nothing! Absolutely nada. I had thought I saw 3-4 for sure. I check out as much area as I can with my headlamp while still staying in my tent. Nothing...anywhere. 
My tent and car

I lay back down. I drift in and out of sleep as I continue to hear noises, imagine raccoons and possums, check with the headlamp and never see anything. Frustrated, a bit scared and tired, I drifted off to sleep for several hours and was up with the morning light about 5:30. Outside the tent, my string cheese was still there, but the apple core is no where to be found. Then I knew there really had been something. I didn't know what and was happy they left me and my tent below. 

I was up sending my morning texts to let everyone else know I survived. As I walked out the gate, I looked to my right and what do you think was crossing the road??

An armadillo :). I believe this to be the culprit. I tried to chase after and get a pic, but not much luck. I feel like armadillos are much less scarier than raccoons and possum so it made me feel better. I googled it and sure enough armadillos are nocturnal, most active at dusk and dawn, and have in the last few years been seen migrating as far north as southern Illinois. 
Stupid iphone did not catch the armadillo

So without the best night's sleep, I head off for a day hike. 

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