Camping in Ohio today, I feel like I’ve come full circle. Not a closed circle. More of a gently spiraling motion. Let’s just hope the spiral is moving up!
I’ve traveled close to 6,000 miles since picking up my little house on wheels in Indiana in early July. Yesterday I looped through Indiana once again, after having wandered through a dozen states in the Midwest, Southwest and far West–Go West, old girl, go West! And what a difference all those miles of roads, all those curves, mountains, and valleys made in my confidence level! I now feel secure enough to drive through a major city like Indianapolis, rather than sticking to secondary roads and giving wide berth to major cities like I did when I set out.
The circle touched Ohio today. This was my first time camping in Ohio since I was in my early 20s, living in Cleveland with my folks. I remember camping in the Fall one year, and there was only one other group of people in the campground, which was very remote. I gathered small twigs and scattered them around my tent so that if anyone–human, bear, some other ornery critter–approached in the night I could hear them as the twigs snapped. My pocket knife was within easy reach as I slept an uneasy sleep–for cutting my way out the other side, not for cutting anyone! Now I have a locked door between me and the outside, and all the comforts of home inside (including the greatest doggie in the world).
Speaking of my sweet doggie, Dawny, and speaking more specifically of my circle of fears, the first post to this site mentions my fear of dog attacks while we are out walking (“On Bears and Muffins,” June 10, 2014). One of our greatest challenges has indeed been encountering dogs off-leash around campgrounds. Often I can spot them, and we change our path to avoid them. Sometimes they come running towards us and the owners have to call them back.
Last week, however, we were three miles into a lovely walk around a small lake and encountered a HUGE dog coming down a hill towards us, with no owner in site. I yelled at him and he backed off. We turned around to retrace our steps and when I looked back, he was coming towards us again. I yelled. He left. When I looked back again, he was practically on top of Dawny. I already had my hand on my pepper spray canister and I got him right in the face. He gave me a surprised look and went running back up the hill. I gave myself a surprised look… sweetened by a feeling of empowerment… ah, the circle is inching up!
Finally the dog’s owners appeared, totally oblivious, including to the stream of pepper gel on their dog’s snout. When I told them their dog was coming after my dog, the man just laughed it off and said he wouldn’t hurt us. How would HE know? HE wasn’t even in earshot. He reluctantly leashed the dog so we could continue our walk in that direction after they passed. I did not tell him about the pepper spray figuring that could trigger a case of human aggression.
So, yes, I am still dealing with the same old fears. I suspect it will take quite a few more loops before I can master any of them… Dogs, ignorant dog-owners, snakes, spiders, bears… Heck, today’s news reported a young man died when a black bear mauled him in New Jersey! A black bear! New Jersey!!! It’s one thing to face your fears. It’s another to face them in the flesh. Time to upgrade from pepper spray to bear spray!
(Photo dedicated to my dear friend Debra, a gifted florist. I was blessed to be able to watch her at work during my recent visit. Now, whenever I see wildflowers and flower gardens on our walks, I think of her, and smile.)