Now don’t press this unless I’m shot, dead, or unconscious…
After pushing through, we go to take the last turn to onto our easement leading to the property, but oddly enough, it doesn’t look right. There’s an RV & Camp there, straddling the road. Trash is everywhere as is anything else one might use. (I hear banjos in my head…) Trying not to invade, I pass it up, thinking it must be the next turnoff. A dog cheerfully follows us up the road then reluctantly obeys the command to ‘go home.’ After two hundred yards or so of rough travel, I turn around, sure of my first decision.
I stop at the intersection, and call out if anyone is home. I leave the keys in the truck with the kids and tell them to lock the doors. I then instruct my daughter on how to use the Spot GPS tracker I brought. Namely the SOS button that calls search and rescue. “Now don’t press this unless I’m shot, dead, or unconscious,” I instruct. She has a puzzled look, but isn’t too freaked out.
I get out and look around, still calling for any occupants. The camp is set ON the road, with junk to either side. An RV sits with all shades drawn and a bird (with cage) in the front seat. A ram-shackle chicken coup is on the other side, the dog has 2 bowls of food. It’s late, and the sun is setting fast, I notice another dog peek it’s head out of a minivan window, whose gas tank nearly touches the ground. Both canines are positive and friendly, so these folks can’t be that bad, right? I make an executive decision to squeeze through and get to our camp 1/4 mile down the road, hoping they won’t return, or will fail to notice our passing. I do so, passing inches from their stuff.
I pull in to our spot from last year, leveling the truck by parking on a 6×10 block. After hastily unloading a few things in my way, I hike up the hill to try and get enough service to make a call. I call my brother (who carries badge, gun, and should be there in the morning). Realizing the connection is VERY broken I repeat the essential terms, “Warning, Squatters, I repeat, Squatters.” Later he said he heard me but was hoping for a different message like, ‘sasquach’ I found bigfoot, anything but squatters. All plans were now in limbo. Needless to say, I loaded my firearm that night and eventually slept, not as lightly as I would like.
I awake in the night to hushed voices and light. Peering out the window, I’m relieved to see my brother setting up camp in the dark. Hallelujah! I hop out, exchange hugs, and we return to bed. In the morning, he shows me his fixed-up 4-wheeler, and we drive down to properly assess the situation. In the light of day, it doesn’t look like a meth lab, so we press on, unsure of what may come.
Day One (Sunday) at camp was pure work (setting a pattern that dictated my activities the rest of the week). Our priority was to clear a path up and over the steepest portion of the property to the ‘back side.’ This would render access to the high point, where we would locate the water tank for gravity-feed dispensing, while getting us to our chosen camping spot. After falling a few trees and clearing plenty of dead ones (along with brush) we made it. In 4×4 low, I crawled up and over, setting up at the new camp.
Last year we had discovered a nice, natural curve of large boulders sticking out of the ground near the NW corner. We decided that this would be ideal for a large fire ring area. A trio of trees provide a shady area right beside this feature.
Other highlights of the day included a card game, my daughter taming a lizard (by stroking its belly) and my son riding with his Uncle, helping us clear the land.
Later that evening, my Mom and Aunt showed up in a Honda Civic. My brother and his wife ran to meet them and guide them past the numerous hazards. You know, rocks, stumps, holes… oh and the squatter camp. I ferried them over the hill in the truck and they all worked to set up their tents while I prepared our Pita Pizza dinner. (I have so many new things I was field testing on this trip that I think I’ll prepare a “Fly or Die” post with the results.) There was a brief episode with moths and a spider, but after exterminating them, we sealed my mom’s broken zipper with duct tape, which prevented further mayhem. We lit a little fire and started enjoying the ambience. Stay tuned for the next installment.