Tango and I set out for a long walk along the shoreline. The water level is low like all the other reservoirs in the area: water goes downstream throughout the summer for irrigation, and the eagerly anticipated snow melt next spring will fill them again.
Before we reach the beach, we see our first sign of animals—deer trails in short willows that line the path. I stop to look down the narrow trail and am certain I hear a snort back in there. We walk further, to the edge of the willows, and look back. Several deer are bounding away from the willows; unwittingly, I have flushed them out, and if I were a hunter my day would be done and my freezer full.
At the water’s edge, I finally see birds. The ever present seagulls meander aimlessly. White pelicans are partying on a small island. I also see a large grey bird that looks like a giant seagull.
I now see more signs of humans than four-legged animals.
Eventually the beach turns into a rocky headland that rises up and over the water. I sit for a while and see some of the birds close up for the first time. I regret not bringing lunch and a book, but I can come back for a day hike.
As we approach our cottonwood grove, I notice for the first time a high water line four feet up the tree trunks. It is difficult to imagine the lake so high, but I remember reading about flooding out here a few years back. Campgrounds closed, and summer recreation got a late start.
During the day, a few people drive into the campground and take the loop road right back out. I guess they do not want my company, which is fine. I putter around the campsite and two deer run by in the woods at a frantic pace. Moments later, they run back in the direction they came from. It is like a comedy show with an imaginary villain chasing the deer back and forth across a stage. Later, something scares Tango who comes running around the camper and jumps inside, under the table.
I know that temperatures tonight could dip close to freezing, so I decide to sleep in the body of the camper instead of a slide out. I am thinking the main camper will be warmer. I pull the interior curtains across the slideouts in case I use the heater. The curtains make the two slideouts look like sleeper bunks on a train. Next, I make up the third bed, which converts from the dinette table and sofa. It works great and has plenty of room for Tango to cuddle at my feet . The heater control is right next to me just in case.
I don’t hear the night noises as clearly while in the protected cocoon of the camper. I hear a few muffled coyotes at bedtime and only once, the call of the owls. The trains pass one after the other and in the cold still night, that sound carries. Not long after one passes, I hear the horn signal of another oncoming train: looooooong, looooooong, short, loooooong. The two long, one short and one long is the train warning: I am approaching a crossing.
I arise early and let Tango out of the camper. I am startled by a beautiful golden sunrise though the golden cottonwood grove. The world is autumn gold for a few moments. Deer in the thicket next to thecamper note our appearance and look wary. I see three young and a doe, who stays close to us and watches. She peers back at the young, then back at us. Instinct in action.
Back in the camper, it is time for the heater and coffee. The temperature inside before I turn on the heater is 45 degrees, much warmer than outside. Ah….the heater. Soon, I will head home; its a work day after all!
- October Camping (janesjournals.wordpress.com)