After the rain puddled under the boy’s tent, they were invited into the tent trailer with all seven of us girls. Two came; one decided the van was a better option. Fine. Freeze your buns off, Superman. And most cyclists sleep with their bikes, right?
As the sun slid behind the trees and the darkness of night emerged, Austin was making his car cave cozy. The back hatch of the van was open as he was arranging and reorganizing camping paraphernalia. After walking over to the fire area for a while he went back to the van and saw something move on his sleeping bag. Immediately assuming it was a prank by his brother, he said, “Keeve, what are you doing?” Then the raccoon jumped out and my strong and brave 16-year-old man child screamed like a girl. Well, a girl with a low voice. The varmint left…. temporarily. Later I noticed the boy’s tent was still unzipped and went to remedy the situation. There were muddy raccoon paw prints all over the sleeping mats. Great.
Thankful for my athletic ability and throwing accuracy, I could generally make contact with a pineapple size pine cone and a raccoon, but they still came back! GAH! And after the first two nights, I was no longer an animal activist. I had turned into an NRA fanatic…. without the gun. We piled ammo next to our camping chairs. The question became: How many times does a coon need to be hit in the head with a pine cone before he doesn’t return? The answer: we never found out. More than six or seven.
Nora sat in her chair by the fire pleading, “Please don’t throw things at the raccoons. I want to see one. I have never seen a whole raccoon. Please don’t throw pine cones, Mom. I want to see the body. Stop scaring them away. I have NEVER seen a whole raccoon. Just wait till I see it ALL, then throw stuff.” Good grief, child. That is what the zoo is for!
Night #3 it was me against the critters. The youngest six children were bedded down. The other mama and two eldest were gone washing dishes. I piled my cones next to me and sat by the fire waiting. It took about three minutes before I turned and saw a large striped bandit hauling away a backpack that had been left out. I bombarded him and screamed bloody murder. Six giggling children could be heard in the trailer. Sheesh. He dropped the back pack, but made off with a plastic bag of something. I grabbed the pack and threw it in the trailer. Meanwhile, I saw another masked face making his way to the bear box… I threw large sticks and pine cones as he retreated from my screams. More laughing… but no help in defending the fortress.
Then horror of horrors, the propane lantern ran out of fuel and darkness enveloped me….. I had no night vision and groped around for a flashlight while hearing the approaching critters. The headlines in the Kings Canyon Newsletter the next morning could have very likely read: “Crazed camping woman goes ballistic and keeps entire camp group awake after quiet hours.” I didn’t care. At all. I found a lame flashlight, the firestarter and was changing the propane tank at the picnic table when my nemesis climbed right up on the other bench and looked across the table at me. FOUR FEET FROM MY FACE! Three days later my throat is still sore from the ear piercing, guttural yell, “GIT OUTTA HEEEEERRRRREEE!” It must have been quite terrifying because he never came back. Good.
At that point, my son returned to find knocked over chairs, pine cones and large sticks scattered around the camp, a propane tank on the ground and his hyperventilating mother trying to light the lantern. Aerobic workout for the day… check!
Raccoons: 1 bag of sunflower seeds.
Me: 1 terrifying memory that will likely pop up in nightmares for years to come.
Please stay tuned for upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.