Sunday, April 9th, 2006
On Saturday, the Pug and I traveled out to a favorite campsite in a western burb for a night of camping. We've had a lot of rain lately, so I figured Pugsley would be the best vehicle to get through anything the trail had to offer. The purpose of my mission: riding, relaxation, and testing some of my homemade camping stuff. I enjoy my one- and two-day overnight tours, because they can be done with little planning. A gear check list expedites the packing effort. I usually have a few days' worth of freeze-dried vittles on hand which eliminates the need to go shopping before a trip. And, my gear is sorted and stored in 50-liter clear Rubbermaid bins to further simplify the packing process.
I brought the Kifaru 4-man tipi and medium collapsible stove. I love the comfort this shelter/stove system provides. There's plenty of room for me, all my gear, my bike, and enough firewood to last for several days. If I had to be stuck in a tent for any period of time due to nasty weather, I'd prefer to be in a shelter of this type. Plus, it's brown, so it blends in with its natural surroundings. I'm not a big fan of brightly colored outdoor gear. I realize it can have its merits when a rescue crew is trying to find you, but I'll usually opt for an earthtone when given a color choice.
A wild turkey ran into my site as I was pounding in a tent stake. He scared the hell out of me, and in turn, I jumped up and scared him. The turkey took flight and nearly clipped me with a wing as he flew by.
The coyotes howled late into the still, moonlit night. I've never seen one in the area, but I've seen their tracks around my site.
On Sunday morning, after waking from a sound sleep and chowing a bowl of oatmeal mixed with dried fruit, I packed up my gear and headed toward home. I stopped at the hand pump, in a nearby group camp down the road, to fill my bottles with water. I noticed a garter snake near the cement pump platform. I picked up the squirmy reptile, but let him go after he hissed and nipped at me. Garter snakes are harmless, but it startled me. Then, I noticed another snake emerging from a hole underneath the platform. I took out my camera and started snapping photos. I got within 6 of him at times. He didn't seem too worried about my presence. Another snake appeared from another hole. More photos. A third snake joined them. A fourth and a fifth then appeared. As I stood on the grass a few feet from the pump platform, one of the snakes slithered up to me and against my sandal as it went by on its way to a section of tall grass. Very trusting. Many of you see snakes all the time, and it's no big thing. I used to play with 'em as a kid. But, I thought it was cool that these little fellas were so tolerant of me being so close to their home.
The social snake experience was a first for me. But, it wasn't the strangest occurrence of the day. As I approached a woman in her 60's walking toward me on a paved section of trail, she pulled out her crucifix and thrust it out toward me as to ward me off. Not knowing what to say, I just rolled on past wondering what incited that behavior. Were my eyes glowing red again? Did she sense the newly established relationship with my little serpent friends? Weird.