Alan and I went camping with our neighbors. They like going to the Unitas and wanted to take us with them this time. I wasn't too excited, sorry to say. What's camping without my family? I checked my attitude at the door before I shut and locked it, however, and ended up having a fun time. It was scary for a minute when there was a swing hanging from a tree right by where we parked the trailer. I had a few heartaches knowing the grandkids would be having a ball with that. But I soon regained my self-control.
It was dark when we first got there and, of course, Labor Day Weekend, so there were a lot of campers already filling up the good spots. We pulled in the last one we could see, which was not very ideal. Our neighbor's wife was not happy. Did I say not happy? She wanted to be closer to the lake. He just wanted to make camp before it got any darker. I think if we hadn't been there and could have been called as witnesses, they would have killed each other before the night was over. I, on the other hand, was ecstatic because I'm pretty sure there were bats flying around and I know for sure there was a live little mouse running around in the fire pit. And I was wearing pants with loose legs. I could feel the little rodent running up my pant legs every time I turned by back on the pit. Anyway, we went to bed. The men went riding 4-wheelers in the morning with no definite returning-home time. By 10:45am the other trailer was still quiet so I decided to go on a short little hike. Before Alan had left on his ride, he told me the lake was only about 1/4 mile away and was only about 3/4 mile long. I figured that would be an energizing walk - about 1 1/2 miles round trip. Does anyone see anything wrong here except the fact I was making an assumption based on 'facts' (and I use the term loosely) given to me by Alan, who had also 'assumed'?
I had started to pack a little backpack with some granola bars and water and jolly ranchers but decided against taking it as it made me look a little too 'boy scoutish'. After all, I was just going on a short hike around the lake and I wasn't planning on getting lost or being gone over night. I could carry the bottle of water without any problem and put a few jolly ranchers in my jacket pocket. When I grabbed my cell phone (we had sporadic service), I noticed it only had one bar of battery left so I figured it wasn't worth taking. I plugged it into the charger. I left Alan a note telling him I was walking towards the water and the time I was leaving and headed out.
Alan was right that the lake was only about 1/4 mile away. I hiked across to the far side first figuring that way I'd come back on our side of the lake and should just come right back to the trailer (second wrong assumption). I hadn't gone far down the other side when I thought it would be a good idea to get a drink of water. That's when I realized I'd forgotten the water. Oops. I did have the jolly ranchers in my jacket pocket. Besides, it was only going to be a short hike. I would be fine. Forget the fact I had no water, no cell phone and no partner.
On the far side of the lake there were trails up through the trees I could take when the shore got too steep or rocky. On the near side of the lake, that wasn't the case. Or at lease I didn't feel as comfortable taking them because there were more people camping on the near side and I was afraid I would walk into someone's camp. I'd walked quite a ways on the far side when I started to doubt Alan's information as to the length of Whitney Lake. And, the lake wasn't a basic shape like I had assumed it was. It's more amoeba-like and so I had to go out around everyone of those appendages. All those little outcroppings must have added at least a half mile onto the entire trek. At least. I was starting to think I should turn around; that perhaps I wasn't going to be able to hike all around the lake. At the last couple of appendages I'd say to myself, "I'll go around this one and if I can't see the end of the lake I'll turn around." A lot of places were steep and rocky and I 'slipped and slid' my way across. I found myself thinking, "Yeah, you're so smart. You won't ride the 4-wheelers without a helmet but you'll go off hiking by yourself, without any water, fall down on the rocks and die or get traumatic brain injury." Oh, well.
Finally I saw the end. False end. Sort of. I had to walk a little farther in order to cross over this amoeba's tail. The lake didn't really come to an 'end' as I was thinking it would. It just trickled down and broke off into three or four little streams. I got across there okay and thought I was home free as I headed up the near side of the lake.
I had been good about landmarks the whole way. I had even actually been able to see our campsite off and on and even now could see it and knew the end was in sight. Ha, ha. This was a very lopsided amoeba lake as there were more appendages on this side; more muddy places I had to cross.
One of those muddy places found me sliding the last three feet right up to the water's edge. By the time I came to a stop, my feet were buried up to the tongues of my shoes in the mud. That made my shoes slippery and so I slipped into the water a couple of times trying to cross over this little spot. There had been a guy fishing just up ahead and I'd watched him watching me. When I finally made it over to where he was and was walking behind him, he greeted me with a silly grin (bottom lip fat with chew) and asked me how I was doing. Duh. I gave him the 'thumbs up' sign and said I was just great, knowing he'd been watching me even when I was on the other side and through the mud sliding and all. Then he asks, "How's the fishing over there?" Duh. Like I said, he's been watching me long enough to know I haven't put a pole in the water. Come to think of it, maybe he meant when I about fell in the water!
After rounding a few more appendages, I see our campsite. Or rather I see our trailers. I 'assumed' they were at 'our' campsite. The same campsite I'd left earlier. In the back of my head, however, I wondered why the headlights were on in Alan's truck. Also I could tell the neighbor's trailer had been moved and was facing a different direction. Then I thought, they've found a better spot for his wife and they're moving the trailers. "Lucky for me I'll make it back before they move!", I thought (third wrong assumption). I was excited, though, because I had made it all around the lake and so shoved the inconsistencies to the back of my mind.
The final trek to the trailer was the worst. I could see a trail going up the hill but it would have meant going around another appendage and so I opted to go straight up the hill. Not a good choice. That little stretch was the most strenuous of the whole hike. When I topped the hill, however, I was confused. I know I was winded and was wondering if the confusion was because I was actually having a stroke or getting ready to pass out or something. I was pretty sure that I recognized Alan smirking and pointing at me as I topped the hill but there wasn't a flagpole at our last camp. This was not the firepit where I'd watched the little mouse do his dance last night. Alan and the neighbor weren't 'moving' camp - they'd already 'moved' camp! I walked into a totally unfamiliar campsite with our trailers parked in it. That was weird.
Well, it had been two hours almost to the minute since I'd left on my little jaunt. I didn't realize how long I'd been gone. I guess everyone had taken turns looking for me on the 4-wheelers and during one of the searches, they'd stumbled upon this empty campsite. The only reason I'd headed for this spot instead of the old campsite was because the headlights of Alan's truck had caught my attention. I didn't realize they were in a different spot because I knew I had always been able to see our trailers.
So, now I'm trying to process the fact that Alan moved without leaving a forwarding address. Talk about going to school and coming home and finding the family has moved! When I questioned him, he said, "Well I looked for you but couldn't find you, so we moved the trailer." I can't quite wrap my head around that. Something just doesn't feel right. Then he said, "I called and left a message on your cell phone so if you ever got service, you'd know." I quickly pointed out what a good idea that was since my cell phone was in the trailer charging. He was just as quick to point out that I had 'stupid' written on my forehead for going off and leaving it . . . and going by myself . . . with no water . . .
And, yes, it did rain during this campout, too.