Denny Lake Park in Cortez ------ ------ Denny Lake
Denny Lake Park... my park on the edge of the Colorado town of Cortez is a popular place for
everyone. It has soft grass, shade, covered picnic areas, a fishing lake, and restrooms.
At lunchtime and in the evening people will picnic there with their families or friends.
The kids will play in the playground, and a picnic/barbecue will be prepared. During
the days, moms with kids come to play. I can usually find a shady spot away from
most of this activity, and so it seemed to make a good safe spot to pass the day.
However... I have noticed... that a lot of the same cars will come during the day... with
drivers who stay in their cars... to sleep or to just pass the time. I figure these are city
"stealth campers"... some who are possibly employed and just without a home... or...
who are retired and on a limited income... or... who are disabled on Social Security...
or... who are street warriors surviving by their wits.
Nobody has bothered me, and I have never so much as waved and smiled in
recognition of a familiar face. I keep very much to myself... in my own world...
as if it is no one's business. I keep busy cleaning the van, reading, writing, or working
on the computer.
I've heard that the key to facing down a bear is to exert an appearance of confidence...
and so probably the same holds true when encountering street people. If I were ever
approached in a bad way by a "street" person... it wouldn't be the first time... and I'd
deal with it. I will say at this point that I keep two or three weapons near me at all times...
and could take a piece out of someone really quick if I had to. And... one of the weapons
I have, now, as well... is my camera.
I kept loose track of these familiar cars and trucks... at the park and also at Walmart.
I had seen a brownish van a time or two at the park... one of maybe seven repeat daily
visitors there. The guy driving this brownish van could well be retired, and his van was
full of junk from the looks of it through the windows. He'd take a walk sometimes.
So, one day... this guy takes a walk by my van and says "hello" as he passes. I said
"hello" back, in a cordial but not an encouraging tone, and went back to my writing.
Then, a few days later... I was parked in the shade along the park lane... facing north...
and this brown van guy drives up and parks his van right up next to my front bumper.
We were bumper to bumper... too close. Now... this is not the only shady spot to park...
and so... he appeared to be making a move of some kind.
There were people at the park with their kids... and so if anyone had driven up and parked
behind me and blocked me in... someone would see it. Still... I was not inspired favorably
from this... from him parking his van so close to mine. Then the guy gets out of his van,
walks by my open side door where I'm working at my little table at my computer... and
says, "how ya doin', girl."
Does the use of the term "girl" make you think what it makes me think... that
someone is assuming a position of authority OVER me...??? He is being... paternal...?? He is
making a claim on my person...?? He is making familiar gestures... like he now knows me...??
Well... I didn't say it, but I was NOT his GIRL.
I replied, "I'm doing just fine, thank you" in a quite formal yet not unfriendly tone. I did not
wish to have any further conversation than a polite greeting... appropriate to strangers. After
a minute or so, I close up what I'm working on... leave... and go to work at the library. To stay
would have seemed as though I liked having his company.
The next day... I drive into the park to enjoy my morning coffee while I watch the ducks...
and the brown van is parked as it was the day before... facing south... with room in the shade
for me to park where I had been. (The gate to the park is locked at dusk, so he was not there
all night.) When I see his van... I stop and park in some shade near the entrance to the park,
instead of driving down the lane.
It wasn't ten minutes later that the brown van comes down the lane to leave... but... then
he stops... gets out of the van... walks around to his passenger door... opens it, slams it
shut, and looks my way. He gets back in his van and drives off. Now... I know... this is
not good. It is looking more and more as though he is making a move.
After that morning I stopped going to the park.
Since I've been in Cortez I've been pulling into the Walmart parking lot around dusk...
where there are also several familiar cars, vans, and trucks who stay there every night...
but not the same assembly as at the park. There's also a mix of truckers and RVers parked
there, as well. Nobody bothers anyone at Walmart. Everyone keeps to themselves and
parks a respectable distance from each other.
So... last Sunday... August 17... I find a spot at Walmart against a far wall where there is late
afternoon shade... and is also a bit of seclusion. I pull out my camp chair and listen to my
Sunday radio programs. No one can see me sitting in my chair unless they drive down
through the alley behind the parking lot.
Along around 9:00 pm... dark now -( if you can call it "dark" with those large bright parking
lot lights)... the brown van comes around the back of the parking lot and pulls in right next to
me... with barely even a parking space between our vans.
Uh... this isn't done. Campers don't crowd other campers. In car talk... this would be...
"can we progress from our cars kissing bumpers to... sleeping next to each other... ...??
As soon as I see him park next to me... I fold up the camp chair... get in and lock my
doors. Then... I see the camera. Ya... umm... hmm. I put a knife in my pocket... get out
of the van... walk around and take several pictures of this scene... including his license number.
The flash on the i-Pod works quite well, I discover. And... he sees the flashing. I get into
my driver's seat.
He gets out and goes around to his passenger door to open it... and from my driver's
seat I'm taking more pictures... with the flash going off several times. I have nowhere else
to go but Walmart.. so I just pull around to the other side of a large RV where I'm not
visible to him, and where there is bright light from Walmart's lights.
Not two minutes later... a small car with blacked-out windows pulls in and parks not
eight feet from his van along the wall... but in a place where the driver of this car
can see us both. I like to think this was Walmart security... or a city/neighborhood security
person. I hope the guy in the brown van thought so. I saw no more of him.
Today... the 18th... I'll be finishing up some errands that I need to do in the city...
and will head out of Cortez... north... to Dolores.