Category Archives: Everyday Adventure

Here Kitty Kitty

I’m awoken in the middle of the night by a high-pitched cry.

“Did you hear that?” I ask my husband.

We’re camping in our secret spot in the high Uinta mountains.  There is no campsite, no toilet, no picnic table, just a clearing by a small lake covered in lily pads.

It’s a place to go and be alone, far beyond the limits of other campers.  It’s where our time with nature will not interrupted by drunken campers, by loud music at midnight, or by the sounds of generators firing up to power televisions in motorhomes purchased to “get away from it all.”

Our dogs, including a 12-week-old puppy, are sound asleep next to me.  We had led them on a ten-mile hike earlier in the day and for every foot we covered, they covered two and exemplify dog tired.

In our sleeping bags, we lie stick still, ears trained to the sounds of the night.  Another wail cuts through the silence, closer than before.

“It sounds like a baby crying.”

Neither of us feel the need to state the obvious…that there are no babies up here.   The sound is that of a cougar.  Over the ridge from our campsite is a rocky outcrop that dens this lion of the mountain.

Cougars are solitary animals, powerful ambush predators that hunt under the cover of night.  We have no reason to be concerned, however. While cougars occasionally attack humans, their main prey is deer of which these mountains have in abundance.

A wail rings out again, this time followed by several smaller cries.  The cougar is accompanied by two young.  This mother is teaching her kittens the lessons they need to survive, to hunt their own food when it is time to part from her side.  We listen to them cry out, their sounds echoing off the granite hills.

Just as we’re falling back asleep, everything changes.  The cries are now on our side of the mountain.  While it takes us about an hour to hike to the top of the ridge, we know that the cougars can clear it in minutes.

“The puppy makes an easy target” my husband points out.

The cries continue to cut through the night, closer than ever before.  Our dogs wake up with a jolt and let out low growls, their hackles rising from the tips of their tails to the tops of their heads.  They are nervous, sensing that a predator is close by.

We debate not our own safety, but the safety of the puppy.  Nothing but a thin nylon wall separates him from a predator looking to feed her young.  Another cry rings out, this time sounding from near the base of the mountain, almost in the small valley where our tent stands.

David decides not to risk it.  He grabs the car keys and the flashlight and darts out of the tent to our SUV parked 25 yards away.  He comes and goes several times, working quickly to get sleeping bags and pillows, water and dog bowls, and everything else needed to make us somewhat comfortable spending the night in the car.

As soon as the seats are down and the beds are set up, he comes back for the dogs.  The older two don’t need prompting, darting from the tent and leaping into the back of the car.  Closing them in, he returns for me and the puppy.  Once inside the car, we shut the tailgate behind us and put our nerves to ease.

Thirty minutes later, a bell rings out in the night.

*Ding ding ding ding*

Then another.  *Ding ding ding ding ding*

We shine our flashlights out of the car window but can’t see the tent through the trees.  We don’t need the light to know what is making the noise.  Lined up along the inside edge of the tent are three bear bells.  We had taken them off of our dog’s collars just before bed, not wanting our sleep disrupted by ringing every time one of the dogs readjusts themselves.

The ringing of the bells let us know that the cougars are at our tent.   They’re poking and prodding the tent walls, causing the bells to roll and ring out.  I think of a house cat batting around a ball.  Amused, we listen to this noise until our tired bodies lure us to sleep.

The sun rises and the car heats up.  We are anxious to get out and stretch our cramped legs.

David is the first one out.  “Oh wow,” he says.  “Come check this out.”

Three sets of cougar tracks circle the car.  We follow the tracks back to the tent.  In our rush to get to safety, we had left the outer screen of our two room tent open.  The tracks not only go around the tent but into that second room.  Sleeping in the car was a wise decision.

Feeling secure in the morning light, I start a campfire and brew coffee.  Breakfast is consumed while sitting on rocks at the water’s edge and discussing the events of last night.  Our trip is just getting started and we had planned to stay for  several more nights.  As the sun rises high above the ridge separating us from the cougar den, I make a decision.

“Let’s go home.”

A Letter To My Readers

Less than a month ago, when I started sharing my travel adventures, I never expected my blog to have any readers outside of my friends and family.

Instead, I’ve had over 600 unique visitors from 17 countries.  Wow.

Hello to all of my readers but especially those in:  Australia, Brazil, Slovakia, Italy, Malaysia, Peru, India,Turkey, Morocco, South Africa, Hong Kong, Macedonia, Belgium, U.K., the Dominican Republic, and Croatia.  If you feel like it, I’d love to hear from you via email, Facebook, or right here in the comments.

Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed what they have read and have taken the time to share it with others.

This kind of response makes me want to keep on going.  I have many stories that I’ve started to write but haven’t quite finished.  For the past two weeks, my life has been consumed by inclement weather, responding to multiple blizzards and prepping for the next one.

I’ve just planned what is sure to be the most epic adventure of my life.  Let me just say that any posts I make in October will be filled with beautiful photos and heart-pounding adventures.

I’ve also been uploading photos to my Instagram page (http://instagram.com/adventurefindsme/).  I find that this is the perfect forum for photos that I don’t necessarily have a use for on this site.  If you are an Instagrammer, I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you to all of my friends and family for encouraging me to start this and to everyone for tuning in.

As a teaser for my next post, expect me to all Laura Croft, Tomb Raider.

 

 

Adventure Finds Me

Pictured:  Grandma Patricia, year unknown

The one thing I recall of my paternal grandmother’s home is a giant map of the world.  It hung on a pink wall above a brass day bed.  The map had a complex system of pin flags to show how many times Grandma had been to a country and with whom she had travelled.

Grandma experienced the Golden Age of Travel.  She  ate on fancy steam ships with white-gloved waiters and black-tie dinners.  She experienced the novelty of flight, with food plated on china, finely dressed passengers and what must have been a glorious amount of leg room.

It’s hard not to be a romanticist when envisioning Bangkok in the 1940’s, Kyoto in the 1950’s, Greece in the 1960’s.  My grandmother saw these places and many others long before the backpackers showed up.  She set out to experience adventure, experience the world.

The worn down, sepia toned photos of her journeys don’t speak of a car stuck in the mud in the middle of the jungle, of being held up by the local authorities waiting for travel papers to be verified.  They don’t speak of people turning around to gawk at her pale skin, of invitations into homes, of meals shared with strangers.   Due to the complexities of family, I never got to ask my grandmother about her adventures.  She kept no known diary of her travels.  While she passed down the travel bug, I long for some written account of her experiences.

If done correctly, travel forever changes one’s perspective on their own life.  Like my grandmother, I want to visit places that are out-of-the-way.  Places that cause me discomfort to get to.  Places where I may be served snake of questionable freshness or need to pee behind a date tree in an oasis.  To live beyond pictures in magazines, to experience how others spend their days and nights.

As I fill out my own world map, I find myself having experiences that are often funny, sometimes strange, frequently incredible, and occassionally scary.

As I’m sure it found my grandmother, adventure finds me.  This is my record.  These are my stories.