The Trees Are Falling! The Trees Are Falling!

Posted July 24, 2017

If you’d rather listen to the podcast, click the play button.

 

Here at LIB, Nervous Nellie gets the front seat and Chicken Licken is what’s for dinner.

The wilderness is no place for swagger.

More than once, we survived flash floods in the desert …

morning after a flash flood, March 2012

In Kansas, we broke camp and outran a tornado …  in Arizona, we remained hitched during a phenomenal wind storm unlike anything the park ranger had ever seen. I saw it once before in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Entering the Homolovi State Park, near Winslow, Arizona

Last Autumn – stuck in gridlocked Gatlinburg traffic watching tourists pitch cigarette butts onto the dry grass, I told Jim we needed to get out of there. Jim managed to make an illegal U-turn and took a “closed to the public” fire road. By the time we were home, Gatlinburg was in flames.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Jim doesn’t say, “You worry too much” anymore. He’s slowly appreciating my philosophy that naming the beast and acknowledging the things that could happen, unless we take measures, may be the best way to proceed.

This morning, we’re blessed to still have our rig. We could be in a hospital right now if Jim didn’t respect our Golden LIB Rule: If one of us doesn’t feel happy and safe (even for no apparent reason) we move on ASAP.

Yesterday, Sunday, at about 9 am we left Jackson Center, Ohio where we spent a fascinating week watching our wonderful Airstream technicians nip and tuck our Beauty to make her look sixteen years younger.

Garret at the Airstream Factory doing some minor repairs and upgrades

We arrived to our destination, Hocking Hill State Park before noontime (early-Sunday is best to secure a site without reservations) to hike the old coal trails. The ranger gave us numbers for a few “first-come-first-served” spaces and we drove up the hill to have a look and check for a cell signal.

Only two sites passed the cell signal test –  #1 and #14.

#1, located at the busy entrance corner, is on a rise without a green screen for privacy – and has a big ol’ mud hole right where our trailer door opens. It would be a great place for harvesting solar, but electrical hook-ups are provided here. Site #14, larger, more private, off the road and nestled back against the forest edge under a canopy of shade trees was clearly – as some park officials said – “our best choice.” I looked at it nervously, maybe because a tree recently fell on my sister’s house.

Carmen’s sister’s house in Tennessee – tree fell on it two months ago.

“Yeah,” I mumbled to Jim as I texted Dad about our safe arrival, “pretty. But I won’t be able to sleep with that heavy low branch hanging over our heads. We’d better take #1.” Jim conceded without argument.

Site #1

As we set up camp in #1, a friendly host stopped by to tell us where the best restaurants were and, by the way, asked why we hadn’t taken #14. “It’s one of the best sites because #15, next to it, is for emergency use and never occupied.” I told him the leaning tree scared me.

Later, as we set out for a hike, a mom and dad with five children worked together to pitch their new tent in site #14. From the street, I examined the tree again – tempted to step in with my Nervous Nellie routine. Sure wish I had …

Site #14 – this morning
Site #14 being cleared of the tree
If we had selected site #14, our Airstream would have been destroyed
The entire tree – not just the branch – landed directly on site #14

But, thank God, no one was killed or seriously injured. If it had turned out any other way, I may not forgive myself for being so timid.

At about 9 pm last night an isolated rain storm came through. After 10 pm, the storm passed and the family began to build a fire. Shortly thereafter, the father heard a tremendous ‘popping sound’ and hollered for his family to run. Other campers, hurried over to help the family.

Everyone escaped injury except for the little girl who was scratched and bruised by twigs as she scrambled for escape. Needless to say, the entire family is traumatized.

Their truck damaged and equipment under the tree, probably beyond salvage – the camp authorities gave them refuge in a cabin for the remainder of the night.

The wilderness isn’t safe. Camping is a worthwhile but scary business, involving risks of all kinds. But while some events cannot be avoided, evidence of imminent danger is all around.

When I enter a State or National park I am responding to an invitation to participate in the experimental process of wilderness conservation. Floods, fires, avalanches, varmints eating my electrical wiring while I take a hike, trees falling on me, on my car, truck, child, or teenager or, being stalked on the trail by a bear, or mountain lion or attacked by bison or anything else is all part of the agreement I made upon entry, namely, to have a wilderness experience. Park officials use reasonable care to keep the premises in a “reasonably” safe condition for all concerned – including themselves – but given the effects of climate change and budget cuts the definition of reasonable is under dispute. Given the alternatives, I’m okay with that.

So, I look up, look down, look all around … how does that tree look? that slope? those clouds …? I watch for reasonable signs of danger everywhere. For those threats I can’t possibly know about, I ask the rangers. If no rangers are around, I check the internet for up-to-date alerts or my trusty Pocket Ranger – but only if I have a friggin’ cell signal!!!

 

17 thoughts on “The Trees Are Falling! The Trees Are Falling!

  1. Something similar happened to us a couple of years ago at Ohio Pyle State Park. That’s where our Airstream got her one and only dent from a limb that fell on our trailer during the storm. We awoke the next morning to fallen trees everywhere and the first time tent camping family in the site behind us evacuated after a tree fell on their picnic table and demolished it during the night. They packed up and headed for home. Don’t imagine they will ever camp again, sadly. We were out of gas and the gas stations had no power to pump gas. We limped to the next town where we were able to get some gas. Crazy experience, but the scenery in that area is amazing. We never knew southern Ohio was like that, either.

    It was great to be able to meet and chat with you in person at the factory in Jackson Center! I had just read your annual review post to my husband the day before. You are as delightful, genuine, and down to earth in person as you come across in your blog! Our 2018 was completed last month and we are getting ready for our first outing in it. So excited!

    Safe Travels!

  2. Always trust your gut; if something does not look or feel right, get out, get away, move on. Carmen clearly has well developed radar; glad you both trust it.

    1. Hey Michael,

      Yes that gut thing runs in the family. My mother was a specialist!

      Jim has great instincts too, and I trust more to him than I’d like to admit in a public forum.

      Thanks for being with us and Safe Travels!

      LIB

  3. One should always listen to “that little voice”! Over the years, during my working days, it saved me many times. Thanks for the reminder, and be safe…… We’ve got a lot more whisky to drink. …. just sayin’….

    1. Hey LC,

      You gotta see how pretty Beauty is right now! All polished up and the rubber bumper AS ran out of is now restored – new tank cover – new utility boxes … If it weren’t for those new hail dimples, she’d look like she just came off the line. I told Jim that hail dimples are the new black 😉

      See you Novemberish!

      xoxo

      LIB

    1. Hey Rev Dan!

      Glad you mentioned that about picking sites. Everyone’s particulars and rigs are different but we’re keeping notes about how we go about choosing a site and plan to write a blog. Jim’s working on that one.

      How exciting to be waiting for your AS!!! We met several people at Jackson Center who had placed their order and came for the tour so they could see the production process. I wish I could tell you that waiting is the best part but the truth is that it just get’s better and better …

      Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Oh, it’s tough to find stuff to complain about when you’re living in Beauty, but – whether your’e a stayer or a goer – falling trees seems to be a common plague. Be careful out there and Safe Travels!

      LIB

  4. Wonder how long it will take for that Dad to talk his family into another camping trip. Good call, Sister. Now stop telling Jim “I told you so” and continue using your Ninja Girl Scout senses for good.
    BTW…. that tree is a big ol’ pile of firewood now. Love y’all, Deb

    1. I know – calling it right too many times makes me squirmy and hyper vigilant … I’m starting to sound like Al Pacino in HEAT “…Told you when we hooked up baybeeeee….. gotta be sharp (snap) on the edge (snap) at’s where I gotta be”

      I hope the tree incident didn’t turn the dad off on camping. Parks with “spaces” can be more dangerous because of the limitations. We like the BLM experience – more flexibility and terrain – better situation to check out the landscape and pick where you want make camp.

      Love you Sis. Stay safe out there!

    1. Hey Nancy!

      Living like this is an education – experiencing the world this close we’re both discovering intelligences we didn’t realize we possess.

      Thank you for being with us, Nancy!

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