Wild Pack of Family Dogs

15 Jul

Bekah and I met in Belize. Boston, barracudas, viper, and archaeology were involved. But that’s a story for later. That’s a story I will write next week. But anyhow, so we met in the summer of 2005 in Belize and somehow I convinced her to move to New Mexico and attend UNM with me. We got a crappy dumpy house next to the university and a blow up mattress, some folding lawn chairs, and stole WiFi from the Wendy’s. On the weekends we would go out and explore the archaeological sites of northern New Mexico and made friends with our idiotic frat boy neighbors. Back when we were young, (even more) silly, and full of wonder. When we had nothing, and yet we had it all.

This picture from 2006 sums it up rather nicely. (I’m the one with the pickle).

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 11.29.52 PM

Bekah had never been camping before. Being a city girl, fresh from Boston, she hadn’t done lots of things. Learned to drive a car, ridden a bike… but camping. That just seemed such a shame to me. We had just spent a summer or two in the rainforest and so we were up for anything. I had spent a research semester working at Chaco Canyon and I convinced Bekah and some of our idiotic neighbors to come out for the weekend with me so I could show them around all the sites. Chaco Canyon is unparalleled in beauty and culture and history. It really is a must see.

So it came to be that Bekah went on her first camping trip.

We packed up the old Subaru and headed out. We wanted a scenic route. And we also thought we were invincible. And we were both somewhat new to the desert southwest.

The Chaco Canyon website has this warning:

Warning: Some of the local roads recommended by map publishers and services using GPS devised to access Chaco are unsafe for passenger cars. Please use our written directions below to avoid getting lost or stuck.

I had even spent a semester out there and chose somehow to not heed this warning. So… yes we started late in the day. Yes, it got dark. We got lost. The water was up in the wash and we were afraid to try to cross. What to do? We set up camp right where we were- wherever that was.

There was no moon and it was really dark. We pulled our little caravan into a U shape and pitched the tents. Pulled out the hot dogs, snacks, some beer, and I’m fairly certain someone brought out a hookah. We proceeded to eat, drink, and be merry out in the middle of the desert, far from anyone or anything.

We thought.

One of the neighbors we brought along was a little green (I’m pretty sure he was still a teenager, if memory serves me) and he ended up a little sick and woozy, lying at the edge of our camp circle staring out into the distance.

“Guys. Guys. Guys.” he was shouting. We were ignoring him. “Something is out there! Something is watching me!”

“Shut up” we laughed, tossing bits of bread and things at him.

And then after a few minutes he would start again. Finally he was getting quite persistent and borderline hysterical, so we all looked over at him, out across the sagebrush and prickly pear and into…

A pair of eyes reflecting red in the beams of our flashlights. And then another pair.

A wild pack of dogs had smelled us and heard our commotion and come up on us without our noticing. A panic ensued, with folks tripping over other folks and screaming and running. I ended up in the car with Bekah. The sick boy was in the backseat, moaning. She and I were frantically running over scenarios of what to do, how we could get away. Finally (and this is how she tells it though I personally deny all suggestions about my inner redneck) I looked over at Bekah, dead serious and straight faced, and proclaimed, “Imma git ’em.”

I proceeded to put the car in drive and to the appropriate tune of banjo music I bounced us over the brush and dirt and actually tried to chase off the dogs, the kid in back dangling his head out the window and puking the whole time.

Well, I guess I did chase off the dogs, and I don’t remember how but we did end up getting to sleep that night. When we awoke in the morning we discovered that we had camped right on the EDGE OF A GIANT CLIFF.

And that was Bekah’s first camping trip.

Remind me sometime to tell you about the second time we encountered a wild dog out west. 😉

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