I have already written this story once, and the interweb decided to swallow it whole never to be seen again. So this is my second attempt at telling you all the story about how I was almost possibly kinda maybe could have been eaten alive in the middle of nowhere by what was probably but not definitely a monster or a human being. Of course I won't start there, you have to hear all of the boring stuff first, like what happened when we left the Grand Canyon on Monday night and arrived in the beautiful wonderful Sedona, A.Z.
We got to Sedona just in time to see the sunset on Airport rd which is the best place to watch it from in Sedona. There is a small butte that is very easily climbed and from the top you get a great 360 degree view. From there you can watch the sun set in the west and also the red light from the sun reflecting back on the red rock mountains in the east. It is truly enchanting. It also happens to be one of the five vortices in Sedona. The sentence I have just written is one which I myself do not understand so if you have questions I refer you to Elisa, or wikipedia, whichever you prefer.
My wonderful amazing super-duper Dad got us a room at the Hilton that night (thanks Dad) so we had a tiny bit of room in our budget for some non-microwaved grub. We went to this place called the Hideaway where the pizza is, well, pizza and the beer is $3.50 (!), so I had a few of those too. We were living the life again folks. My dad offered to book two nights at the Hilton but we thought that might be a little excessive and also we had all of this camping gear we hadn't even used yet. Agreeing that if we couldn't find a site the next day we would take my dad up on his offer, we started on finding a campground. Our waiter at the Hideaway was clearly a camper. That's right folks, I profiled the shit out of this guy. I'm sorry but saying things like "everyone who wears flannel is like this," or "everyone who has a hat collection is like that," is fucking ignorant. But saying things like "everyone who wears Keans goes camping" is definitely true. Always. Nobody buys Keans because they're cute. No body. I digress. Homeboy was totally helpful, and even drew us a little map on his dupe pad. Despite the direction in which this story is headed, I am forever grateful to Shannon from Hideaway for being so eager to share this camping mecca with two, kind of smelly girls who are complete strangers.
Up at a little after 8am the next morning we set out to find this amazing campsite and see if there was a spot for us before it was time to check out of the hotel. We found what we thought was the site Shannon told us about and went back to the Hilton to tell them, "Peace out." After camp was set up we went on a really short trek down a dried up stream bed and gave Shannon a call to thank him again. He inquired a little about our whereabouts and quickly decided that not only were we not at the site he was talking about but also that we would be seriously missing out if we didn't try to find it. Back in the Jeep we got and headed further down the road.
Let me stop here to remind you all that we opted out of another night at the Hilton, compliments of the wonderful John Fisher. Voluntarily. No gun to our heads. Our choice.. Ok, now I will continue.
Soon enough the already dirty road turned into a rocky dirt road and we were headed up the side of a small mountain. Heading down the mountain were a couple of campers in a van. We stopped and chatted. They were a couple in their fifties or sixties who had poked around the site until they were weirded out by a man who appeared to be living in the mountains and scurried away when he saw them. "You could almost hear the bajos playing," said Mr. Camper, and for some reason we all laughed. After chatting a bit more we all decided that if Elisa and I stayed out of his way he would probably stay out of ours. We continued over the mountain only to find an amazing valley with giant sycamores and a beautiful babbling creek. It was so enchanting, like a scene from a fairytale, and it was free. Amazing.
We headed back to the original camp site to break down and relocate, and as we got further away from the beauty of the valley my stomach began to turn. Were we really going to camp out there alone with that creepy mountain guy? There were no other campers in sight, it would just be us. Elisa very much wanted to camp there, and I couldn't blame her, so we referred to the wonderfully helpful Shannon. He told us not to be afraid, that people camp out there for weeks at a time and that if we told anyone that Shantop Shanookey is our soul brother we would be left alone. Strangely this made us feel a lot better.
We relocated to a beautiful spot on the creek, made some chilli and hot toddies for dinner and chatted quietly until sunset. The sun went down over the mountain turning the little valley hot pink and soon the stars emerged from the night. It was amazingly beautiful, and I had taken a xanax, so I was doing relatively ok. Then it got really, really dark. I don't think I am exaggerating here, it was the darkest night I have ever seen in my life. I quickly morphed from 27 year old woman to terrified five year old who insists there are monsters under her bed. Elisa thought I would feel better if we went into the tent and played cards, and I agreed.
One lousy game of gin. One, that Elisa won I might add, before it happened. The most clearly distinctly perfectly heard rustle of leaves. This is no exaggeration guys, it was a rustle, it happened, something was out there and we were immediately terrified. We sat up. Elisa grabbed the hammer, I grabbed the pepper spray and moved that little tab to the right, ready to fire. I forgot to tell you about our weapons but we had them to ease my nerves a little. To be honest, in the moment when you think you may be eaten alive by a mountain lion or cannibalistic mountain man, pepper spray and a hammer don't really make you feel much better. There was another rustle, and then another one and then we finally got the balls to run to the car. There was no screaming, but now looking back I wish we had because it really would have added some dramatic effect to this story.
We slept that night in the Safeway parking lot until the sun rose. When we got back to the camp site the next day everything was just as we left it. Tent open, cards out and my cell phone hanging in the tent pocket about to die. Yes, it could have been anything. A jack rabbit, a snake, a grizzly man with a paring knife and an appetite. Whatever the possibilities may be, neither Elisa or myself is willing to believe it was an animal of the four legged variety, and we feel very lucky to be alive to tell this tale.