Turkeys in the Wilderness

Okay. The plan was to try spending the long Thanksgiving Holiday weekend out in the wilderness again.

Two years ago we almost got trapped by snow and ice whilst trying to barbecue turkey out in the midst of the Mendocino National forest. When the snow started to stick we decided we better get out of there. We had miles of bad road with several mountain passes to get over and since I was the only one with tire chains ROADCOW wound up dragging SAGEFOX over the passes with a tow strap. When we finally arrived back on the blacktop the ladies said, "Never again" but that was two years ago and the painful memories seem to have faded and so, once again, we made plans.

This time the plan was slightly modified. Suzanne wanted to go to Patrick's Point State Park up north of Arcata. She was talking about all the wonderful agates we would be able to find on Agate Beach. I really think she was thinking about the availability of hot showers and the security of black-topped roads. Me, well I'm against "Organized Campgrounds" but I guess it's better to follow her plan than not go at all.

So Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving, all packed up and in high spirits, we headed north out of Fort Bragg into a bright sunny day. Four and a half hours later found us searching through inky darkness and drizzle for a campsite. We had arrived at Patrick's Point State Park and were slowly driving around the park from campsite to campsite shining flashlights through our fogged up windows trying to find a space that didn't already contain a huge motor home with an auxiliary generator muttering away in the gloom.

We finally found a vacant site that looked big enough for our two busses to park in. We pulled in and set up a hasty temporary camp.  Ed and Suzanne set their Coleman coolers out to help it stay cool and give them more room.  We said our "good nights", crawled into our beds to get warm, and read our respective novels; the rain pattering on the roof. We would sort everything out in the morning.

By the gray light of Thanksgiving morn we discovered that we had basically parked in the middle of a large puddle and that something had eaten the turkey!

Yes, something had not only opened Ed and Suzanne's Coleman cooler and eaten all the turkey but it / they had also eaten one of the sausages out of its shrink wrapped package and unscrewed a plastic container and drank or dumped out all the eggnog! By the looks of the muddy footprints we were quite sure it was raccoons.

Well damn!

We stood around, had coffee and breakfast, and formulated a plan. Suzanne and I decided to go for a walk to find a more suitable campsite. We found one and returned to the busses. I then moved ROADCOW to our new campsite while Ed, Suzanne, and Lolli drove off in SAGEFOX to the nearest down, McKinleyville, to try and find an open grocery store and hopefully replace the items the wildlife took from us.

By noon they arrived back in camp with a new turkey and more egg nog. We were finally back on page one of the original plan and, because the rain continued to fall, commenced "Phase Two"; constructing our "Habitat for Humanity". Yes!

The plan is to construct Ed's "ultimate shelter"!

By strategically placing our busses at a 90 degree angle to each other and using a telescoping center pole Ed had pre-constructed at home out of galvanized water pipe and by using hundreds of feet of rope and by pounding of lots of wooden stakes into the ground and by, ultimately, the four of us, in concert, stretching a twenty foot by twenty five foot roll of six mil plastic over the whole works we ended up with dry cover from bus to bus and out over the park picnic table!

(We entertained our neighbors in their forty foot motor home for quite a while with this plan!)

When we finally had it all in place the wind came up and tore some of it loose but Ed only considered that a "load test" and we refined the design a bit more! Finally, the structure was up and holding and we were ready to commence cooking Thanksgiving Dinner!

Ed got the barbee going and the rest of us chopped and diced and sliced and listened to the plastic flap and the rain come down. I used the cow curtains from my bus as a table cloth which added a nice festive touch and by seven in the evening we were finally able to sit down to a very tasty feast in the glare of the Coleman and very shortly after that stagger to the busses, pull off our damp clothes, fall into bed and try to warm up.

During the night Ed woke up, heard rattling over on the picnic table and looked out with his flashlight. Skunks were cleaning up the Thanksgiving dinner remains!

In the morning everything was licked clean except for the jellied cranberry sauce. They didn't touch that. I guess I am the only one who likes that stuff.

We cleaned up the mess, washed all the dishes and then went for a walk down to the beach. There were about fifty people on the beach looking for agates and after about three hours of searching Suzanne found six or seven. Now she was happy.

We spent a second night at the campsite but the weather did not improve and by the morning of the third day we finally decided to give it up. After an hour and a half of packing up soggy ropes and plastic tarp, wet towels and damp clothes, we fired up the busses and headed for home.

Us turkeys had had enough wilderness!

Back to travel stories.


Return to blabberon