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July 27, 2014

I had stayed up late last night, and so... when the sun shone on my van and warmed it -- it was 8:00 am. This was late for me, as I'm usually up with the sun around 5:30 or 6:00. I've habitually listened to NPR news first thing in the morning - and often during the day - and usually every night. NPR is as good as any TV news channel and fills my day with interesting stories.

But, before I turned on the radio... I heard a distant animal growl... what I took to be a moose call. I wondered if it was a hunter's horn -- such as a duck call -- to attract deer. I listened for it to sound again, but it never did.

I stayed in my van -- sitting on my cot (which is quite as comfortable as any stuffed arm chair -- propped up by pillows behind me, and to the side if I want, as well.) NPR has good programming on Sunday, and so I'd decided to just enjoy the day listening... no daily walk... no cleaning around the van.

Around 10:00, I was startled when a grey shepherd dog (or was this a grey wolf...???) peeked around the corner into the side door. He had come out of the bushes behind the van and come around to the open side door... but he just peeked. When I startled, he jumped away. I shut the door quickly.

I looked around the camp for him. He had picked a spot behind the van near the bushes and lain down. He was a tame animal. He looked toward the bushes to his left and out scrambled a furry, little pickeniese dog... bouncing merrily over the little bushies in its path.

I called to the grey shepherd, "You better go home. Go home."
I kept looking down the road... waiting for a camper to amble along any time, now -- looking for his animals. No one came. I thought hard about the wisdom of offering food or water. Both animals looked healthy enough -- even frisky -- but... when I looked around again... they were both gone.

Around 2:00 pm I washed a few things and left them on the camp chair to dry -- and went back to listening to my radio programs. It was around 5:00 when I saw a guy walking toward my camp. He didn't look like the same guy I'd seen hiking before. He had no hat... no nice jacket... and his walking stick was light colored. This guy had a worn out hat on... with some official-looking patch... with another official-looking T-shirt with a Rotary Club insignia on it. All in all... scrappy??? would be the word...??

When I stepped out of the van, he called to me... "Have you seen any bears?"

At first, I thought he was really reaching for a conversation opener... talking about seeing bears like that. I said, "The only wildlife I've seen are a couple of deer and some squirrels. And this morning two stray dogs came into my camp... no bears."

He said, "Well, I saw two bear down the road a-piece. I was hiking down towards the electric lines and saw a black bear... and then I saw a brown bear. He saw me, too, but I stared him down and turned and went back the other way."

He got a little more friendly. "Did you see the ranger the other day?"
I said, "No."

He said, "Well, she was up here and she's a mean one. She'll give you a ticket for anything. I noticed you've been camping here a lot, so you'd better watch out." Then he went on...
"You know... I camp at Quartsite in the winter and the rangers down there are really friendly. Not up here. You know... they're giving riot gear now to the rangers. They're preparing for a revolution. They even have machine guns. Do YOU carry a gun?"

I just looked him in the eye... "Why do you ask that?"
He said, "Well... do you have a gun?"
I said right back... "Well... do YOU have a gun?"
He said, "Yeah, I've got a 22 pistol but you can't find ammunition for it. You know, there are 700 internment camps and stacks of coffins -- yeah, they're going to declare martial law."

I tried to ease his paranoia a bit... "Well, you know... Bush was the one who did all that stuff... and go figure, he gave a lot of government contracts to his buddies. For instance, take those toxic trailers he bought after Katrina. And you have to think... if there was an anthrax attack they would need to quarantine people... and there might be thousands dying. There are other explanations other than a Nazi takeover."

Then I said... "Oh, dear, I'm missing my Sunday radio shows." And he left.

I had not planned on finding a new camp, but now -- I was off.
Nights like these... the radio is not that good of a companion.

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