It was afternoon by the time I departed the coast. My GPS had ceased to work, but there were really no turn options and I was confident in my map. The drive took longer than I expected however, and I once again found myself fervently looking for somewhere to pitch my tent before dark.
I turned into every side road I could see, hoping that one would lead to the river valley below and to a secluded campsite – away from the incessant noise of the highway. Slamming on my brakes and pulling sharply onto the shoulder I would investigate every turnout or two track leading into the woods, looking for anything, as darkness approached. I thought to myself, winter is coming.
The first dozen or so searches resulted in finding fee stations or bold “no camping” signs denoted by larges X’s overlaid on the tepee tent symbol. Finally, I turned into an unmarked dirt two track leading into the woods without a house number or mailbox. I was relieved to have scored a safe place for the evening.
Not a single thing indicated that a crazy motherfucker lived at the bottom of the hill. Snaking my way slowly down the heavily wooded drive, I descended roughly half a mile before seeing a thirty-foot long fifth wheel RV trailer parked in the woods. It was freestanding, the hitch resting on two cinder blocks that were sinking into the dirt from the weight. I assumed it was unoccupied.
My first indicator that someone was home was when I heard, then saw, a crazed pit bull charging at me from eighty yards away. Alerted by the mutt, what I assume is the owner comes speed walking towards my car, baseball bat in hand. I’m not stereotyping this guy, I’m just saying he actually was wearing cutoff jeans, a wife beater and had bicep tribal tattoos. He was terrifying and I was determined not to get a fucking Louisville Slugger to my windshield.
Slamming into reverse, I attempted to back out of the driveway but my car refused, once again, to shift into reverse. One foot on the break, the other on the gas, I work them both while revving to 4,000 RPMs, trying to coerce my car’s transmission to shift at least once for me. Abruptly it shifted, while I was still at 3,000 RPMs. The all-wheel drive bombarded the pit bull with gravel as the owner, with another frothing pit as his heels, closed in.
Through my closed windows I can see this tweaker (meth head) screaming at me- the chords on his neck looking like rotten Red Vines, ready to burst. I’m going to be beaten to death or torn to shreds by crazed pit bulls and my hands and feet are on panicked auto-pilot as I attempt to drift a reverse 180, coming up miserably short at 90 degrees. I’m left sitting sideways in the driveway. This is not good.
Miraculously, suddenly, the car shifts from reverse to drive and I stomp the accelerator, rally driving back to the highway, my heart pounding through my chest. I surely just escaped a violent death.