The film C.O.G. is in theaters now (somewhere in the world, tho not here). It was filmed in the area. Pam performed as an extra in it AND she is in this trailer for one full second, in the center of this shot.
Imagine the voice of Patton Oswalt is reading this. (Can't remember his voice? This sample is best.) I'm not saying my voice sounds like his—or that it doesn't, that's immaterial. But his tone, pacing, and inflections make this a much better story.
I like to camp. What I mean when I say this...is that I enjoy the desolation of what most would consider primitive camping, with a few comforts and amenities. Because—let's be honest—there are a couple-a-things I prefer to never do without.
For example, I love love love a place in the woods miles and miles away from any other people. No man-made noises. No vehicles. Just quiet filled with wonderous silence.
But I need a toilet. A sit-down, flushable toilet. I'll ass-grip my shit for days before I squat over a log. And, before I'll crawl out of my dry tent to stand in the rain and take a piss at four in the fuckin mornin, I'll tie a knot in my dick (I'm speakin figuratively, 'course it's too small for a knot). So a portable flush toilet is a requirement; a necessity, not a luxury. I wouldn't camp without one.
So . . . I'm camping my way. And lovin' it. And mostly. Mostly. You know why?
It's the lack of options—the freedom from all the usual "things to do"—which brings about, in me, an incredible peaceful rest-titude. A normal day-off...for most people...after you wake up, immediately your brain becomes aware of the immense variety of things available for itself to occupy itself.
Hummm, what'll I do? Go on the internet - check messages - play a video (is there a new game I wanted to play?) - watch a movie - maybe go to the movies (is there a new film I wanted to see?) - get something to eat (do I have anything I'm hungry for in the house? do I need to grocery shop?) - go shopping (do I wanna drive? I could just shop on Amazon. Is there a new book I wanted?) - maybe just go for a drive (where do I want to go? To the bookstore? Who else could go with? Is there a friend I wanna visit? We could go out to eat.) - How is the weather? Is it good enough to spend the day outside? Let's check . . . humm . . . the internet says it is going to be partly sunny and warm.
All that—inside two minutes. Still in bed. Head on the pillow, thumbing the phone.
I can cook whatever I have in the cooler on my Coleman grill. And if it's raining (which I'll know as soon as I wake up) I can either sit under the rainfly or stay in my tent where I have three choices: read, draw, or think. Yup. That's it. Oh, masturbate. So, four. But once you've cranked into a couple sheets of Bounty or Brawny (I prefer Viva) it's back to those three. If the weather's good, I have the added option of exploring the woods and/or hiking. With my cat. Or, do one of the other three, only in the sun.
So a couple weeks ago, I set up camp at my favorite spot in Clatsop, which is a medium-sized (350² mi/550² km) Oregon state forest used, almost exclusively, by loggers and hunters.
As the crow flies, about three miles from the nearest house (five, if sticking to roads and forest trails) my campsite was in a small clearing on the crest of a slight hill at the end of a two-rut track. I have a sign to dissuade hunters from using the cul-de-sac to park or turn around in. It works.
The second night I was woken, after midnight, by three bangs on the western face of my tent. Bash-sh, BAsh-Sh, BASH-Ish, followed by: nothin'. No receding footfalls. The cats (both Cecil and Pam's Aggie were with me) raised their heads from the blankets at my feet and intently listened for a few minutes, but soon lowered their heads and returned to slumber. I imagined a deer mustiv' tripped on one of my guylines, stumbled into the side of the tent, and caught a second leg on another guyline as it was trying to leap away. The crackling-shift 'Ish'-noise of the tarp-like tent's bottom making it sound louder than it really was. In the morning I discovered the tent had been disturbed enough to move the floor and spill their water bowl.
I picture a young elk strolling through the campsite with a couple others from its herd...
"Shite man! Feck! Gad-Dam, bout broke me bleedin bollacks!"
"We told ya to watch out for the big funny-smellin bush, Geoff."
"I did! But you didn't tell me about the invisible vines!"
"Heh heh. You sure that you just didn't eat too many squishy apples?"
A few nights later, I was startled awake by a loud, long, scream. This was an unusual scream. Unusual not only because it began very close to the tent, but because it continued for several full minutes as the rodent's or the bird's shrill, imminent-death-holler was carried deeper into the forest, down the steep southern slope, and gradually faded to silence.
JEEL!JEEL!JEEL!JEEL! with no breath between the jeel's. No footfalls in the grass or burst of wings in the air as it was carried away. I imagined an owl must have caught lunch and carried it away. Maybe it's like a built-in dinner bell for the little one's (*licks lips*. . . mom's comin' with ... what's it sound like? Squirrel? Vole?)
Of all the many quacks, squawks, yips, tweets, calls, cries, and cricks in the night, the only one more readily identifiable than the hoots and screeches of the owls are the trumpets from the occasional bull elk.
The cats were as startled as I and they stayed alert for over half of an hour. Both eventually got off the bed, ate something from their bowls, drank some water, and one of them used the litter box before they both settled back to sleep with me.
For over a week it rained on-and-off every night. We were all woken when rain struck the taught fabric over our heads in a deafeningly cacophonous hard-to-sleep-inside-a-drum kind of way. And, likewise, we were all woken when four hours of white-noise drizzle immediately turned into silence.
During the days we did what we do.
Which is also what we did at night.
The red light on their collars.
For exploring the woods.
After the sun has set.
But not far away.
Because there are animals in the forest who are not comfortable with our funny smells (which is why all my garbage is bagged ten feet off the ground at night) and who steer clear because they are bothered by our bright spotlights and scared by our loud strange noises. (foreshadow much?)
One of the last nights, just after six in the morning, the rain woke us by stopping. The sky was beginning to lighten. Morning birds began to chirp. The cats decided to get up. I rolled over and waited for them to finish; if I went back to sleep they'd just wake me when they jumped back on the bed.
Aggie began to eat. A minute later, Cecil walked behind her towards the litter box.
The crash punched into us.
This crash, into the south side of the tent, was so loud . . . so clearly directed, and so specifically timed that I knew within a microsecond of its beginning . . . it was not an accident.
I began my shout at the volume one would use to call attention to yourself at a loud concert and increased my decibels to throat-harming level as I snapped my head toward it. I was still screaming at the absolute top of my lungs when I took in the final microseconds of the crash.
Aggie's back was to the crash and she was turning her head towards it.
Cecil was two feet away from the crash and he was turning his head towards me.
The south side of the tent was bowed in about two feet.
I finished yelling. The cats freaked the fuck right out and ran as far away from the crash and from me as they could possibly get (behind the cooler). I got my shotgun. I clapped my hands and shouted a little more. I listened. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
An hour later, the cats had calmed enough to come back on the bed. Not to sleep; but they trusted I was no longer going to make that scary noise again. I'd calmed enough by then to put down the shotgun.
During the light of day I discovered by climbing through the brush, broken branches, and weeds on the south side of the tent that grouse or quail were using that brush as cover. I learned this when one broke . . . WHUP - Whup - whup . . . and scared the piss outta me.
I downloaded this video from my infrared camera, positioned North of my campsite on the road. An edge of the back of my sign is just visible over the road in the distance.
Yes. That's right. A mountain lion. A young one, sure. Probably no more than 65 pounds (30kg). I imagine him stalking another one of those birds he caught from behind my tent a week ago, sitting there waiting for the rain to stop. And he hears a small click click noise (Aggie eating) could that be a bird on the other side of that dense brush? And then the swish-crunch of movement through weeds (Cecil walking) and he LEAPS. Only to plow headfirst into the side of one tough tent. A tent he probably banged into already!..when he was trying to get to the only thing I failed to conceal the smell of: dry cat food.
I still love camping. I learned from this trip. And I will learn from the next one.
This book shares something in common with two others, which I'd also previously put off until today (all found on many must-not-die-before-reading lists). I postponed reading A Clockwork Orange and The Princess Bride because I'd already watched the films. The Disney features from the 1960s with Winnie the Pooh (sans-hyphens) and his friends were my excuse for not reading the stories by A.A. Milne.
No, they are not filled with insights and tender life lessons with children in mind all-the-while tempered with humor and story-quality guaranteeing that adults reading these stories aloud will also enjoy them, they are all just plain boring.
If I had a precocious four year old who was capable of reading slightly above her age-level, I'd
give her this book and—after she threw it so hard it dented the plaster of her bedroom wall—I'd ask her to explain why she despised it so much.
And her words would most likely include: unhappyfully filled-to-muchly with simple, dullish, sadness and...but...mostly, there never seems to be a beginning middle or end to the stories. She would then ask why I thought she would enjoy it and I'd have to apologize to her for assuming that any child born during the Obama administration would have even the slightest thing in common with someone who was born when Calvin Coolidge was president.
She would then ask how ninety years could sour these stories and I would have to explain that (like my first Today is Someday book, Watership Down) the stores were originally just told by the author—who in this case was a British man born in 1882—to his son. They were made up 'on the fly' as it were, with no polish and not a smattering of talent. Just a verbal slap-dash before we hie the young'un off ta bed...turned into similar words on a page. [I'm not saying Milne didn't know how to write, what I am saying is he didn't know how to tell a story.]
Disney made us care for the characters. Disney painted our emotions. Disney polished and made a beginning, middle, and end. Mostly, I hate Disney. Except when I don't.