Saturday, November 5, 2016

It Ain't Kansas - Los Padres National Forest

It ain''t Kansas. They drive like they gots sumwharz tuh go and they wants YOU tuh git outa the way. If you get outa line it may take uh halfn hour for yuh tuh git an opening so as tuh git back in. Yessir, there's peoples end-tuh-end. And no end in sight.

But we're be'un watched out for. (I guess since I ain't no drunk thet meenz ah mus be uh phool.) 

As preface to what follows, please take a moment to read An Average Life's blogpost of 10/25/16; it lends fine context to my tale.

At a remote campground that was empty I got out to read the regs & fees. I then went up the road where I stopped to look over the walk-in tent sites, remembering to roll up the window so the cat couldn't get out. A little further I came to the main campground and toodled about, stopping to compliment a young woman on her beautiful, full length, aubergine gown. It was nice to see someone dressed in something more original than the grey t-shirt 'n' khaki shorts uniform. I returned to the remote place, filled out the form, paid the fee and discovered, upon unloading the car, that I didn't have a cat.

I suffer from loss issues. Thus, my first reaction was, "Oh well, it was inevitable. I'll get over it." But then, after about ten minutes, years of therapy kicked in and I began thinking of where she might've gotten out. I began calling as I walked back to the C.G. pay station. Circling the area and continuing to call, I practically fell over when she came trotting across an open area heading for the nearby woods. She stopped to sniff the leg of a picnic table (she enjoys making fun of dogs) before jumping onto a low limb of a tree and and (are you watching?) pantomiming checking the tie-downs on her packboard before heading off into the wilds. I called and she paused, letting me get near enough (sssoOOO beneficent) to grab her. Cuddling her in my arms, I asked if she wanted to leave, if she was unhappy with me. Her quick glance with frightened eyes reassured me it wasn't about me. She's just a kitten and wanted to get out. 

The next evening, after driving for too long, we were forced into a campground where many of the sites, although empty, were reserved. With nowhere else to go, I chose the first one, fortuitously separated from the others, and unloaded the absolute minimum. I figured we'd keep it warm for them and when they showed up it'd take mere minutes to get packed and out of the way. I hoped to get a few hours sleep, enough to be able to drive on to somewhere. The ranger, who was kind enough to have waited until we finished our repast, was having none of it. "Move on, buddy. And be quick about it." I know I'd have been grateful if I'd been the reservee.

In my haste I forgot to close the back door. I'd looped the end of Smith's lead over the gearshift lever but, about 500 feet from the campsite, looked down and noticed it wasn't there. As I braked to a stop, the back door slammed shut. I soon realized, I was, once again, catless.

It was pitch dark and the woods were dense. A steep ravine, a fav exploratorium of hers, loomed its depths next to the road. I walked about with my flashlight, hoping no one else would show up and scare her. I scanned the campsite, calling into the night. I imagined her entangled lead, preventing her from responding. Existentialist correlaries and Waiting for Godot played about my (alleged) psyche. 

She came trotting down the boulevard with her lead trailing, "Thanks for waiting. You left the door open so I figured it was okay to get out. Ha, ha!" When I stooped to intercept her, she veered and quickened her pace, but my foot, always chancey with one eye (the left is blind), found its mark and I was able to reel her in.  An hour later, crispy-crittered to the hilt, we checked into the aforementioned remote C.G.  

The next day was better. After 12 miles of steep, narrow and winding up to the Figueroa Recreation Area (Hah! No muttering of generators up here!), we found a little knoll. There, between the steepyer (like pointyer but slantyer) slopes of the Sierra Madre mountains in the Los Padres National Forest, amongst the oaks, where much of the land is either up or down, I noticed a faint track of tires. Walking it, they soon disappeared. But upon turning to return, and with the light now behind me, I could see a vague suggestion. And we didn't even need 4WD. With all the trees (uhg!) Smith was in heaven!

Her exuberance is wonderful. It brought a full-on laugh when she came racing out of the forest, leaped in through the bathroom window and, with zuchinni tail in full-fluff (mock anger/terror), exited, still at fullspeed, stage right, through the front passenger door. My hair, blown by the afterdraft, streamed out beside my head and I reeled back expecting a herd of jackals to be hot on her heels.

The next day A few miles down the road the gods had left this little hidey-hole (see photo) open. It's atop the mountain overlooking Santa Barbara about 1,000 feet before the gun club (BLAM!! BLAM!! BLAM, BLAM, BLAM!!!). We surmised they'd forgotten their night vision stuff cuz it got quiet after dark.

The weather's fyne. Upper 70s to low 80s during the day. Nights in the 60s and, at these altitudes, no fog.

NOTE: The local Nat'l Forest cop gave hard time cuz yer sposedly only ''llowed tuh be one car length fum duh pavement. Everything I've read said 300 feet, but, of course, I didn't have it to hand. As per his authority, he took umbrage at the suggestion he didn't know the law. 


Good Luck Duck said...

That could have been catastrophic. I would have been catatonic with panic. Did you defur your travels? Are you both feline okay?

Jozien Keijzer said...

wonderful post. Some 20 years ago we used to travel with Loesje, Cats are wonderful travel companions...but indeed they are rather finicky. I learned, by trial and error, that Loesje would stay at the spot were I had left her, which made it easier to find her if I was the one who left her. Loesje died a few years ago when she was 20 years old, natural dead.

MFH said...

I nearly DeFurred a little brat!!! I had some serious tho'ts about how I'd do it SLOOOOOOOWWWLLLLYYY, but I knew, she being a cat, it wouldn't make any difference so just sucked it up. She's been annoyed at being tethered more. I'm thinking its time to seek out a curandera. Maybe she'd have something to redirect my oozing mind back into my brain.

Kate said...

CATS, oh my GOD, they put us through such trouble, AUGH. Loiosh has had a few (fortunately VERY few) unauthorized wanderings & I'm terrified every. Single. Time.