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What was THAT?
I wake up startled. BOOM! Reggie and Edith sit up in bed. . . . stunned into silence, ears perked, paralyzed. Oh, it’s fireworks.
I check the little digital clock on the wall… quarter after one. What idiot sets off fireworks in a national forest? During a drought?
“It’s okay, sweeties. Everything will be okay.”
I reach to reassure them with my touch.
Edith’s heartbeat is a-flutter. Reggie’s white dome of a head is visible in the moonlight. His eyes, big and round, staring.
Well, Bridget doesn’t seem concerned. Her poor hearing is a blessing tonight.
I peer up at the treetops as an umbrella of colored light descends.
Good heavens! Is this someone in the campground? Shooting fireworks over our heads? And those aren’t toy fireworks . . .
After the third round of booms and lights, I hear a woman yell.
That sounds like the woman next to us, camping in a tent with her big dog!
She yells again and I can’t make out the words. She’s obviously very angry. I hesitate to go over to check on her, not wanting to upset Bridget, Reggie, and Edith. Well, she didn’t sound hurt.
I peer out the window and see the light of a lantern at another campsite.
More booms and flashes . . .
Hmm . . . He’s on the other side of the river, shooting the fireworks from the riverbank.
Gosh, how dumb. Across the road from the campground is a hill of blackened tree trunks from a previous fire. Isn’t that a big enough clue? And there’s also the fire danger sign as you approach the campground. What is it about the word “extreme” that you don’t understand, you jerk? Gee, I wish I had cell signal to call the forest service!
After a long pause, Edith lies down again.
Reggie remains sitting up.
He hasn’t moved at all or made a sound in the past half-hour.
“I think it’s all over, Reg. The big monster has gone away. You can go back to sleep now.”
I try to make him lie down and he refuses.
I doze off. A short while later I wake up. The numbers of the clock glow in the dark. It’s 1:58. Edith and Bridget are asleep between me and the wall. Reggie, however, hasn’t moved.
I flick on the light and there he is, motionless, his eyes closed. Oh, dear. He fell asleep sitting up! Our sweet, little, protector man . . .
I reach up, turn out the light, and pull him close.
He collapses against my chest. I cradle him in my arms and join him in slumber.
Later that day . . .
The woman with the big dog, a lab/german shepherd mix named Ruby, is at our campsite. We’re discussing the fireworks.
“Ruby went absolutely nuts!” the woman exclaims. “She wanted out of the tent so bad, but I couldn’t let her out! No telling where she’d go with all that noise! She’s thrashing around, knocked over my box of bandages (the woman has a foot wound). . . . I’m pulling at her, trying to settle her down and she’s not listening, the way she usually does.”
The woman pauses to catch her breath.
“It’s a wonder Ruby didn’t tear the tent to pieces! One of the supports is broken. What an idiot! I yelled at him, I was so frantic!”
“I heard you yell. I couldn’t make out what you were saying,” I remark.
“I yelled ‘You better stop! The police are coming!’ ” She shrugs. “Lot of good that did.”
“How did he get over to that side of the river anyway?” I ask. “There’s a barrier on the bridge with a sign saying the road is closed.”
Continuing my report of Independence Day weekend . . .
In addition to the illegal fireworks, two police cars came to the campground in response to a disturbance at a campsite. A child — I’m guessing a girl around the age of 8 to 11, judging from her voice — was screaming and crying while her angry father yelled and swore at her, using the f-word and other curses.
I have never heard such intense crying from a child.
This went on for an awfully long time. None of the campers could use their phones to dial 911. To approach the man would escalate the situation and invite violence. Someone mentioned the camp host might have a radio with which to summon help. At last the father and daughter were quiet. The squad cars arrived shortly thereafter.
One female camper remarked later, “Probably it was his weekend with his daughter and he couldn’t handle it.”
Monday, July 6
Well, the holiday weekend is over! Most of the campers have left. Whew!
The crew and I cooled off in the river one more time last night. I felt reborn stepping out of that cold water! Today we break camp.
The Best Little Trailer is hitched up and ready to go!
I park at the water spigot to fill up jugs before leaving the campground. An employee of Mt. Hood National Forest comes by in the official white truck. I had met her the first day at Lazy Bend Campground. She stops the truck and we chat through her window.
Of course we discuss the fireworks.
“The rangers got ‘im. Two thousand dollar fine.”
“Good! I am so glad! How did he get over to the other side of the river? There’s a barrier on the bridge with a sign saying the road is closed.”
She shakes her head. “If you’re dumb enough to shoot fireworks in the forest, I guess you’re dumb enough to remove the barrier and drive over the bridge.”
While we’re on the topic of Dumb Things People Do In The Forest, she continues.
“Up the road (She describes where and I don’t recognize the name of the location) someone who was dispersed camping set a tree on fire. Flames from his campfire went up the tree and crowned.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. . . ”
“Well, the smoke was spotted from the tower and a helicopter goes out, drops fire retardant and water . . . . We lost about an acre of forest with that one.”
I think that’s the end of the holiday escapades when she adds one more . . .
“A guy was shooting off fireworks in the forest. Someone camped nearby went over and asked him to stop. The man pulls a gun on him. The rangers had to go up there. Confiscated the guy’s guns. He got a two-thousand-dollar fine, too.”
“I bet the rangers are glad this holiday weekend is over. I really appreciate the people who work for the Forest Service and what they have to deal with. And law enforcement and firefighters . . . All the people who work to protect us and the forest . . . ”
The crew and I are at a new camp!
I’ll tell you all about it in the next post. I haven’t had a chance to take photos yet. It’s a lovely, riverside site, it’s cooler than our previous camp, and — such a delight during this hot weather — we have a swimming hole at the edge of our back yard!
NOTE: I returned Edith to The Pixie Project. She’s a sweet, well-behaved dog. Reggie had a great time playing with her, and Bridget would have accepted her in time. If you’re curious why I made this decision not to adopt her, read what I wrote toward the end of the comments under the previous post.
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