Thursday, 29 December 2011

December 5th, 2009 pt.1

After leaving Bluelghtning & GypsyAngel  yesterday, the game plan was to ride out east and camp somewhere at Oconee National Forest.  When we arrived there, there was plenty of daylight left so we decided to push forward to Augusta, Georgia.  We arrived there at night and stopped at Taco Bell to grab a bite and snag Wi-Fi to see where we’re camping for the night.  Sumter National Forest seemed to be the closest; about 23 km from where we were.  Used the gps to locate a campsite and off we went.  As we rode deeper in the forest, civilization seemed to be scarcer.  The upside to that was nobody will be around to bother us…this is what we hoped for.  We arrived at an intersection where the gps told us to make a right turn; only problem was there was no road to turn on.  We made a right at the next intersection and followed the road until it led to a boat launch by the river.  Well it’s no campsite, but at least there’s a decent patch of grass and it doesn’t look like there’s anyone around to mind.  We rode around the perimeter to check out the surroundings and came across a dead deer just off the side of the parking area.  Clearly it had been shot dead as the bullet wounds were visible.  Couldn’t really tell how long it had been laying there other than the fact that if there’s no predator feeding off of the deer, it should be safe for us to camp here for the night.  I then proceeded to set up the tent while Amanda was out doing her business out in the bushes.  On her way back she heard a noise.  I kept telling her it was probably deer in the bushes, but Amanda remained on high alert.  Moments later I hear Amanda yelp.  I look up and see two flashlights coming out of the brush and walking towards us.  Right at that moment my brain started to go through a series of scenarios of what to do.  We were in the middle of nowhere with no houses within miles of the area; at first when I heard Amanda yelp I thought it was some animal coming towards us, but as soon as I saw the lights, that changes things a bit.  Animals are predictable; they’re either looking for food or protecting their young.  Humans on the other hand aren’t so predictable.  Human’s can be talked to, so that’s good.  I figure we chit chat and hopefully come to a resolution and be on our way.  If negotiations go sour we fight or run or do both; either way we got options and if it ever comes down to the wire; we go all the way.  I just hope that never happens, but just in case it does; I hope I can react accordingly to get us out of any situation.  So the moment of truth has come and I hope we’re ready for the worst; then I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders when I heard the words: “State Police!”  It turns out the two of them are on a stakeout to catch hooligans who are up to no good in the area.  One was a state police officer and the other was a federal officer and they informed us it wasn’t wise to pitch a tent out here in this area.  Instead, they gave us directions to an actual campsite another 30 km north of where we were.  Funny thing came to mind when we were on our way:  It must’ve been hard to breathe when Amanda was doing her business in the bushes.  They must’ve been within a few feet from her. 
On our way to the other campsite, I notice the gps is taking a short cut different from the officer’s directions they gave us.  Oh well, the quicker we get there the quicker we get to relax I thought…unfortunately we weren’t that lucky.  Pavement became dirt and dirt became mud.  We approached a section of mud that made me stop to reassess.  As I turn my head back to ask for Amanda’s opinion, I see her roaring past me and off to the side of the road that didn’t look that bad.  “Never judge a book by its cover” That’s what I’ve been taught; Amanda didn’t seem to have caught that one.  Her bike dug a huge rut and had gotten stuck.  I then proceeded to help push her out and got mud all over my boots and pants in the process.  Now here’s the dilemma:  Do we both continue and risk having to go through worse terrain or call it quits and have Amanda go through that nasty spot again and head back to pavement?  We chose the latter.  I helped pick the rut for her to travel through and told her to keep the throttle constant.  She did a great job and we managed to get back on pavement.  It would’ve sucked to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere; who knows what crazy people might pop out of the woodwork. 

We get to the campsite finally.  What a wild night we thought.  We each have a cup of wine to calm the nerves and proceeded to start a fire.  Off in the distance we hear a dog barking ravenously.  It sounded far enough not to be any worry.  Moments later the barking gets louder and closer and what seemed to be only one dog now became at least three.  What the heck is going on tonight?  Three incidents in one night!  By now the barking is at a point to worry.  I tell Amanda to put her gear and gloves on and have her dog spray at the ready.  They’ll be coming so get ready!  Then we hear shotguns firing and off in the distance—someone with a flashlight.  Of course!  They’re hunting dogs, but where we’re from it is illegal to hunt at night.  Is it the same here?  Do we want to get caught in the middle of a crossfire?  Do we make ourselves visible so we don’t get mistaken as a deer?  Or do we really want to be witnesses of illegal doings?  What do we do? What do we do?  Think!  We better make ourselves visible.  We set our hands-free headlights on to emergency mode so that it’s flashing like a beacon.  By now the hunter is about 75 yards in front us in the thick brush, dogs still barking like the hounds from hell.  The suspense is killing us.  A normal human being would approach us and tell us not to worry.  Should we call the cops?  Couldn’t hurt.  If this is going to be the end of us, the least we could do is inform the authorities of our last whereabouts.  I call 911 and the switchboard operator tells me it’s not their jurisdiction; hang up and try again.  WTF!!!!!!!  I could be running away from an axe murderer and she tells me it’s not her jurisdiction?  I get bounced around 3 more times until finally someone sends the local sheriff to come check us out.  At this point the hunters had jumped in their pickup truck and left.  Meanwhile we decided to hide our boxed wine so when the sheriff came it doesn’t look like we’re just drunks seeing things at night.  When the sheriff finally came he looked perturbed.  We must’ve pulled him away from his donut hangout at this time of night.  He simply told us they were probably coon hunting and drove off.  What does a guy need to do to get a good night’s sleep?
Checking out the mud the morning after

Lick Fork'll always be remembered
Strangers in the night.
Wild dogs are drawing nearer.
Don’t rely on cops. 

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