My recent, mountain fishing trip with some of the men from our church awakened old memories. After fifteen-plus years, I returned to a place that has loomed large among my camping/fishing memories.
The place where we camped is called a "river." For those of you in parts of the world where rain is common and regular, the term "river" conjures up mental pictures of wide, deep expanses of moving water. I remember my awe the first time I saw the Mississippi. I can think of highway bridges that seem to go on forever just to get across those places.
Well, in this case, "river" is something many of you might call "stream", "creek", or "crick", depending on what part of the country you call home. Here, where some highway bridges cross dry, sandy, washes that have the name "river" proudly listed on a sign, this is definitely a "river". Forget that you could jump over it in many places (if it hasn't rained recently).
At about 7,500 feet (about 2,300 meters to my European friends), this is the habitat of trout (both stocked and native) and (this year) a plenteous assortment of crawdads. It's also the natural habitat of a variety of birds and animals. It's a species of the latter that scurried to the front of my memory last week.
You see, a little over fifteen years ago, our family went to this same location for a vacation. Cathy and I, along with our children, were joined by my brother's family and our mom. We found an open area, pitched tents, and set up our camp with great joy.
During those days, my brother (who had spent a season as a hunting guide) loved to build a small village of tents for sleeping, eating and (occasionally) playing. If I remember correctly, on this particular trip, he erected a sleeping tent for his (then) tiny family as well as a food tent for cooking and (if necessary) eating during a summer rain shower. Cathy and I erected our own little tent, and I believe we had a tent for our mom. At least one or two of our children slept in our conversion van.
During the first or second night, Cathy and I were snuggled in our warm sleeping bags, when, in the middle of the night, something rubbed up against the outside of our nylon tent. "What was that?" she asked as I awoke, groggy. Whatever it was didn't go away, but moved to another side of the tent and kept investigating. Could it have been a bear? (This was bear country!)
I slapped my boot against the inside of the tent wall and yelled, "Get out of here!" Instead of leaving, the animal obviously made its way into the outer room of our tent, which didn't have a floor and could be reached by crawling under the door flap. Now, I was really scared. Was it coming in after us?
I grabbed a small axe, the only weapon at my disposal, and made it ready as I unzipped the flap from our sleeping room enough to shine a light into the outer room. There it was! My fear turned to sheer terror!
(to be continued...)