Somehow I managed to miss telling this story a few months ago when it happened, so here it is as your Flashback Friday.
On our way to our summer in Middlebury, we spent a week or two in Oregon with my family. One of the first weekends we were there, we went camping at the Oregon Coast. This, despite my repeated attempts to stop going camping when I was so darn pregnant. In fact, one of my miserable pregnant camping experiences had taken place at this very campground at the beach, almost exactly three years before.
Still, it was a nice campground, and we were with family, and the weather was beautiful. Most promising was the fact that my brother had lent us his inflatable air mattress to sleep on. What could go wrong?
Well, for one thing, my family could be so cheap as to not own a proper mattress inflation pump. It's not that I demand an electric or otherwise automatic air pump. I just ask for one that functions properly, "properly" being defined as "actually gets air into the mattress instead of blowing it right back out a duct-tape-patched hole in the tubing." Seriously, mom and dad, those things cannot possibly cost more than $10 at Fred Meyer or wherever.
Bravely overcoming the obstacles put in our way by my family's thriftiness, Jeremy and I did our best and after an inordinate amount of time pumping, the mattress was full enough. We spent the day at the Tillamook Cheese Factory and on the dunes at the beach and when Miriam was too exhausted to stay awake any longer, we turned in to our tent for the night.
Jeremy & Miriam at the beach.
The mattress was comfortable enough, as far as any largely pregnant lady is ever comfortable. What was not comfortable was when I woke up a little after midnight and realized that my intense discomfort was from more than just pregnancy: I was sleeping flat on the ground, with nothing between me and the tent floor besides a completely deflated air mattress that apparently had a hole in it.
Curses, foiled again! And by something not even related to pregnancy! It was a long, long night spent sleeping on the ground.
To look on the bright side, though, it was not as long of a night as it could have been. Very soon after dawn, I was shocked out of my fruitless attempts to doze by a barrage of extremely loud profanity being shouted from not very far away.
If that was just about the last thing you expected, imagine how I felt lying on the floor of my tent, surrounded until a moment before by the increasingly gentle rays of the sun and the cute wakening noises and rustlings of birds. Then, suddenly: "@*&%$!$#^&*&!@*$!!!!"
My confusion soon turned into fear when I realized that whoever this person was, shouting at the top of their lungs at 5am, he was actually directing his statements at a living being, as evidenced by:
"I'll #$(*&&@ kill you!"
"Get the (*&#(*$& away from me!"
"You'd better #$%^%& $#%# outta here!"
From the movement of his voice and the sounds he was making, I could tell he was on the move, chasing someone.
Yikes!! I was thiiiiiis close to waking Jeremy up and telling him to call 911 when I realized something: nobody was talking back to this guy or making any response to his profanity-laced threats of bodily harm. The only possible conclusion was that he was not talking to a human at all, but some kind of woodland creature or, worse, a pet.
What the?!? What kind of person goes camping in the gorgeous coastal forest of Oregon surrounded by the beauty of nature, only to pollute it with obscenity-laden tirades? Tirades directed at, incredibly, an animal? Tirades directed at an animal at, incredibly, 5 o'clock in the morning?
I stayed huddled in our tent and he eventually stopped. A few hours later when everyone was up and around, we furtively scanned each of our neighboring campers to see which one could have possibly been the early-morning psycho on the loose. We didn't find any promising candidates - they all looked like good, nature- and animal-respecting people. Of course, there were plenty of jokes from all my family members that someone or other (Jeremy, or my dad) in our own party had been responsible, but they were all kind of nervous jokes, like we were afraid that whoever it really was was going to come for us next and #)$(**$ kill us.
The fitting ending to this story is that the shoddily patched air pump ended up melting when it was left too close to the burnt-out remains of the campfire. Under suspicious circumstances. That I know absolutely nothing about. I promise.