A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.
Home » ANIMALS » Smoke Relocation Unearths Cow Pies and Ashy Dirt; I Yell and Dance for “Bear”

Smoke Relocation Unearths Cow Pies and Ashy Dirt; I Yell and Dance for “Bear”

Someone at the store suggested yesterday that I relocate to a canyon south of here and at a higher elevation. I wish I had thought of it when I drove into town Sunday night and saw the smoke layer covering much of the valley. Now it’s pack and unpack again — not that I have that much.

On the drive up through the canyon we passed through one of the most beautiful hilly meadows I’ve ever seen. I stepped out of the car and was assaulted by flies.

Cow pies. Everywhere.


The rough dirt roads that climbed into various canyons branching off and adjacent to the main one were mostly empty of people, as I like it. I drove to the end of one, backtracked, and took the first or second campsite. That way, I figure, I’ll get little or no traffic.

I discovered too late that the site’s soil was almost ashy. It looked gray, and anything dropped in it came up black. I figured the area on which I had parked used to be a fire ring.

Of course, like so many things that bother me, this didn’t bother the dogs at all. That is not just light on my black dog’s hindquarters. To make matters worse, he is shedding on his thighs, and I can not find the box that has the dog grooming gear.


Carlos covered with ashy dirt.

These canyons are home to mountain lions and bears. I did not want to risk having Carlos, who usually sleeps outside, take off in pursuit of one of them. So, despite the previous night’s skunking, I set up a space for him to sleep in the car. My two back seats pull down, but one is wider than the other. I pulled down the wider one for me.. The narrower one I left up and covered with a sheet and towel for Carlos. I rigged what was in effect a wall between us, to help with the allergy factor.

If I had not realized it before, it soon became evident that the skunk bath had not been 100% effective. I blamed it on having only one gallon of water to rinse him, and on my fatigued decision not to go back into town for more water when I realized how little I had.

I was thankful I have automatic windows.

Later that night, as I was finalizing sleep preparations, I thought I heard something. You know, that ubiquitous “something” on which scary campfire tales are based.

Bear? Make noise. Do whatever you can to look bigger than you are. That’s the advice I remembered for mountain lion or bear encounters.

I discovered a bass range to my voice I didn’t know was there. “HUH!” I barked. “HEY” I yelled, deeply. It reminded me of the lion on Wizard of Oz, using a big low voice to act courageous. I waved my arms. As I went about my business I moved side to side, taking up as much space as I could.

Dwyn cuddles next to his big brother

Dwyn cuddles next to his big brother

Turns out I wasn’t the only one frightened. I found Dwyn curled up next to his larger buddy, expanding Carlos’ sleep space beyond my intention. Or maybe he was just getting cozy and I was projecting my fear onto him. 

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