Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Camping Trip I Ruined

The sun sat low in the Western sky as we sped down dirt roads in the Southern Utah desert...not to be confused with dessert which usually turns out much less dry or sandy. Twilight fell, not full of sparkly vampires, but full of difused sunlight from behind the mountains and more stars than you could ever dream of counting. We were running late, so we raced the Blue Cantelope (my car) out to the Spot.

The Spot was a beautiful stone outcropping that jutted up from the fairly flat desert in the middle of nowhere. My friend, Adam, would spend hours driving around looking for the best places to camp. To get to the Spot, you had to drive out of town through miles of farmland until you came to the last house, then you made a left and drove through sand dunes and empty nothingness until the Spot rose out of the dust before you. It really was a great place to camp, do bonfires, and hang out thinking deep teenage thoughts, you know about like life and like stuff.

On the way out there, speeding through the dunes, kicking up dust, we spotted a bunny.

Out here bunnies are vermin. They are shot on the spot by farmers, hit by cars, and publicly mocked in makeshift tribunals. My friends immediately shouted out, "A bunny! Hit it!" They took up a chant.

Did I want to hit the bunny? No. I don't like killing things, it's not in my nature. If you ever spot me walking down the sidewalk when a colony of ants happen to cross at the same time, you will see me break out into a strange game of hopscotch as I jump, skip, and ninja/twister my way past without stepping on a single one. I like ants. I used to feed them when I was a kid, crumbs of doritos, drips from my popsicle. They discover the prize, call their friends, and seconds later nothing is left as they trundle the gift home. Amazing to me still. But, this is not about that...back to the bunny. I caved to peer preasure and hit the gas, knowing that my chances of hitting the bunny were still slim.

Bunnies are fast, dodgy little things. I had never hit one before this and I have never hit one since. Don't worry. I didn't hit this one either. As we sped toward the furry thing, it mutated.

The very manly boys in my car screamed in confused terror as the bunny took to the skies.

It was an owl. We laughed, pretending the initial screams hadn't happened.

A few minutes later "another" bunny dodged out in front of my car, this time a real one, no owl. I locked up my brakes, skidding to a sliding halt in the sand.

Adam mocked me. "I can't believe you locked up your brakes for a jack rabbit!"

I turned to him and very seriously explained. "The last one had WINGS!" We then laughed until we cried.

That was the good part of the trip, then we made it to the Spot. Other friends had already made it out there. A few more showed up shortly after us. We had a decent gathering. We built a fire and then climbed to the top of the rock overhang by firelight and dim flashlights.

As we sat on the rock, watching the last vestiges of the sun wink out in the distance, someone mentioned ghost stories. I said, "I don't tell my ghost stories."

That was the wrong thing to say. It just piqued their interest and everyone began jumping up and down, begging and pleading me to share them. I caved again.

Something you should know about me, I do not scare easily. I will walk through a haunted house giggling. I laugh hysterically through scary movies, making comments like, "Really. I am sooooo scared. The tooth fairy is gonna get me. Ha haahaahhaa!" or "When a creepy dead girl crawls out of your tv, you grab a baseball bat and knock her butt back in. When she tries it again, you knock her butt back in and say 'Keep trying, chick, I can keep this up all night.'" I walk through supposedly haunted cemeteries and lay down on the ground in order to figure out the mysterious ghost light (a neat trick of the light due to trees, landscaping, and a pefectly shaped hill that sends blue light from passing cars to bend and crawl across the grass without any obvious source). I DO NOT scare easy, but I have seen things that scare me. My ghost stories are not about some man with a claw for a hand who attacks unwary campers. My stories are REAL!

Don't ask me to share them. I won't. The idea of committing some of the things I've seen and heard to the hard lines of our written language gives me chills. It is not going to happen.

Anyway. I shared them that night. I started small, talking about the UFO's I've seen. I don't think they were aliens. I'm weird. I'm not a crackpot. I'm pretty sure the first one I saw was my childlike imagination turning a low flying plane into the ship from The Flight of the Navigator. The second one looked very much like some early military testing of the stealth bomber. The last one I saw might have been an actual weather balloon as it fell back to earth, silver disk flip flopping in the sunlight. Then I moved on to stories I've gained from others, things that may or may not be true. Then, I moved on to my own stories from houses I've lived in, places I've been, things that stick with me. The group fell silent, stopped asking questions as I went into details about the sound a light made or, not gonna talk about that.

I finished my tales and this is what happened.

The last little group of friends looked at one another and didn't even have to say it. No one would be camping in the dark desert that night, especially as our group had dwindled down to nothing. My friend, Adam, made me give him my keys. "Don't want any bunnies getting us killed." I handed them over.

The trip home took half the regular amount of time...and we were followed by a blue ghost light.

I promise, for good or ill, that thing hovered over the desert off to our right until we made it safely back to the city.


Chanel said...

You do realize that the human imagination is a terrible, wonderful thing, and since you've refused to repeat your ghost stories because they were simply "too scary," my mind immediately started thinking of the scariest things that could have possibly happened to you that would scare grown people from sleeping out in the desert...It might have been less scary if you had just told us. I will be sleeping with the bathroom light on tonight.

Emily White said...

Scaaary! I've had some pretty scary things happen to me, too. *chills*

Charlie Pulsipher said...

I'm so sorry Chanel! I hope you made it through last night okay. I'm sure your imagination made some pretty scary stuff up to fill in the blanks I left.

I still can't write it. I can tell you that some myths and legends are true, some houses are haunted, and the music of Eddie Brickel helps keep the shuffling in the hallway out of your head. Bathroom lights are long as your ghost doesn't know how to shut them off. Sorry.

I've found talking about my experiences brings in the same feeling as when I was there. That's why I don't.

It has made me an expert ghost detector though. That's how I knew the weird ghost light in the cemetary wasn't real. No creepy dark feeling, so I laid down on the ground and figured it out.

Emily, I know, right?

Michael Offutt said...

You're drawings are so funny. How could I not follow another person from Utah? hehe :)

Apoliticism said...

we should swap stories sometimes, haha jk. I don't like talking about them either. Awesome writing as usual.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thanks Michael. Us Utah writers have to stick together.

Jared. Your writing is just as awesome.

Sycamore Girl said...

I don't do scary. I'll have to write about the time when Chris learned first hand that I DON'T DO SCARY.

Too many real experiences that I just can't meddle in it at all.

Loving your blog!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thanks Holly!

Chanel said...

Not to change the subject or anything, but I gave you an award and it says that I have to hunt you down and tell you.

I guess this like blogger Tag! You're it! Except it's more like, "Pst. Pass it on."

raisingmarshmallows said...

I have to say...not a fan of camping.


BlahCooCooBlah said...

Damn straight us Utah writers have to stick together :D And I second that I love your drawings, you should draw some for my blog! BTW, watch The Brave Little Toaster, your life will be forever changed! Haha unfortunately, I don't remember a butterfly in The Last Unicorn, Imma gonna have to check that out!!!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Chanel - Thanks for the award! It is my second ever. I appreciate it...I'm not sure what to do with it though. All the rules attached feels like work and I dislike work. We'll see if I cave and give in to peer pressure.

Raisingmallows - I LOVE camping! Keeps me sane...ish. I have moved away from sleeping on the ground though.

BlahCooCooBlah - I would love to do some drawings sometime. Just let me know what you want and I will MS Paint the crap out of it! I will see if netflix has The Scary Little Toaster right away. You check out that butterfly and forgive me for making you do so later.

Mark said...

I hate you chuck...... I was singing hyms last night just thinking about that crap after reading this yesterday.

Yes, its that scarry.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Sorry Mark. Keep a light on. You'll make it.

HowLynnTime said...

LOL shhhhhhh I don't scare at all. I did have to buy a new house about 9 years ago. My children had made too many friends in the old house. I had to get them a house that was empty before they started school. The youngest tore the wall paper off the walls at the new house in protest of leaving his friends - he still makes me drive by the old house to check on - the friends.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

HowLynnTime- Mine were not friendly...

Anonymous said...

Lots of good reading here, thanks! I had been browsing on yahoo when I discovered your publish, I’m going to add your feed to Google Reader, I look forward to much more from you.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thanks Anon. Much more to come.

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