Dirt roads, boobs and bears…
What do you do after your breast cancer surgery while you are healing and waiting for your test results to determine your treatment????? You go camping in the Adirondacks. I mean tent camping in a rustic campground.
I had previously met and became friends with a woman who was in our “dog group”. (We have two black labs that are trained hunting dogs-there will be more on that in another blog). We were planning the trip before I was diagnosed. I decided we should keep the plans and if we need to cancel we can do that later. So I am a couple weeks (I think) out of surgery. The campground is about 3 hours from home. I loaded up my husband’s truck with all the gear and of course my dog, Zoey. I had never been to this campground but had heard it was a nice one for a rustic campground. It did have bathrooms and showers, but no electric or water sites. That was ok with me since we were tent camping. I made my way up to the Adirondacks and found the turn off to the campground. Teri (the friend I was camping with) had warned me it was a long dirt road to get back there. Dirt road, smirt road? No problem, I had my husband’s truck, I’d be fine……It’s all good. Right! It was the longest, bumpiest, rutted up road I think I had ever been on! I was driving at like 15 mph, steering with my left arm and desperately holding onto to Minnie (my left boob) with my right hand to keep her from bobbing around. I was trying to find that fine line between keeping Minnie in place and not pressing too hard on my already sore boob. Every bump and sent pain down to my toes. That road was so bad Minnie and Lulu would have been in pain even if I didn’t recently have surgery. They were bouncing around more than a room full of “super balls” (remember those from the gumball machine?) I am sure I let a few choice words fly on some of the bigger ruts. I know I asked, “Are you freaking kidding me??!!” on multiple occasions (I actually used a different word). Poor Zoey, she didn’t know what to do. She watched nervously while I yelled out, clutched my boob and tried to reassure her (and me), “it’s ok girl. Momma’s ok.” I could tell she didn’t believe me…..That part of the trip seemed to go into slow motion. By the time I got to the actual campground to check in I was seeing stars and it was still day time. I sat there for a while waiting for the throbbing in my boob to subside.
Finally the pain was down to a dull ache. I went and checked in and got our site number. Teri was coming up later.
I was able to get the tent set up. It was one of those “up in 10 minutes” tents. Easy Peasy. I got most everything set by the time Teri got there and I think I already had a beer (or three) going. It was pretty laid back. Teri brought a dog as well. It wasn’t a huge tent so Teri’s dog stayed in her car at night. We each had a cot and there was room in between for Zoey. Of course, I had to get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. I grabbed my flashlight and headed out of the tent and down the road to the bathrooms. While I was in the bathroom I heard a guy yelling,” Hey, get out of here! Go on, git! ”. My first thought was that Zoey got out of the tent (she can open the zipper with her nose) and was looking for me. I hustled back to the tent and found she was still there. That was good. I climbed back into my sleeping bag. Shortly after that I heard something running down the road in our direction, something heavy. I could hear it kind of “huffing” while it ran. It sounded like it was coming right through our campsite. Just as I had that thought I could hear heavy growly breathing right outside the tent. I softly called, “Teri? You awake?” She just as softly replied, “Yes”. I said, “Did you hear that?” She said, “Yes”. I said, “There’s a bear right outside the tent”. She said very quietly, “I know, its head is right next to my face……” Just as she said that Zoey must have smelled the bear and she started barking like crazy. She sounded very scary. The bear moved away from the tent and Teri’s dog started barking. The bear took off. I couldn’t help but think that if I had not hustled back to the tent to check on Zoey, the bear and I would have had a face to face meeting on the road. That kind of sent a shiver down my back. Throughout the night we could hear dogs barking, people banging pans and hollering. It was a long night. Finally the sun came up. I really had to go to the bathroom and decided I should take Zoey as my protector. As we walked up the hill and came over top a woman and 2 young girls were coming from the other direction. They let out a little “yelp” when they saw Zoey. They thought she was the bear. Apparently their camp neighbor left their cooler on the table and they spent part of the night in their tent listening to the bear tear through the cooler and its contents.
It turns out there was actually 2 bears wreaking havoc at the campground that night. The rest of the camping trip was less eventful. We hiked, ate, drank and chilled. I will say one thing; it certainly took my mind off what may be coming down the road for me. It’s good to have something that can divert your brain away from troubled thoughts. I realize tent camping and close encounters with a bear may not work for everyone. If you don’t have something that can help take your thoughts off stressful or worrisome things, try to find one. Something that you can do, that you enjoy. Go for a walk outside, read a book, volunteer (there’s a lot of need for a lot of abilities), knit, cook, do a craft, color. They even have coloring books for adults now (although I still can’t seem to color within the lines…). Find something that works for you. You do you.