Thump, thump, thump.
Oregon State Park. I awoke in the middle of the night to what sounded like someone knocking on Rocinante’s door… not the door – it was on the wrong side. What could it be? I sat up and listened again. When you’ve lived in a tiny space the size of a large closet for a couple of months, you get to know every sound.
I recognized it – it was the sound of the trailer’s little “garage” door thumping shut several times in a row. The door to the garage is on the far side of the trailer, leading to a small sealed storage area under the bed. This convenient little space (which early on earned the title of garage as a way to distinguish it from the many collective doors of the truck and trailer) was where we kept the electric recharging cord, water hose, wheel chocs… and Katie’s food. Someone – or something – wanted that dog food.
I like to keep a dog-mom’s eye on Katie at night, so my side of the bed is the one on the outer edge away from the wall and nearest the dog bed. Right now Katie was snoring away with little doggie dreams and clearly had not heard the sound. Most notable at this critical moment, my side is also the one closest to the door. I got up, opened the door gingerly, and poked my head out. I’ve never seen a bear – could this be the first viewing? Given the state of garbage bin protection in Oregon State Parks, a bear was unlikely. What else? I could see nothing.
I grabbed a flashlight, stepped out onto our little wooden mat that sits in front of the door, and looked around – there, at the end of our campsite, I saw a catlike critter. Catlike, but not a cat… It peered at me, its eyes reflecting my flashlight back at me, then turned the corner and trotted, feline fashion, down the road. Colin had also stepped out by this time and was standing on the wood mat. Having walked in the critter’s direction to get a closer look, I now turned around and cast my light back toward the trailer. There, underneath, crouched down and unmoving, sat another one of whatever it was. It was between Colin and me, and I was now between it and its mate. Not good.
Encouraging Colin to get back inside so it would have an escape route, I crept carefully back toward the trailer, and shone my light on the nocturnal visitor. That was when I saw the telltale bandit mask and ringed tail, just before the dark form slipped off into the night. Raccoons! I went around to the garage; low and behold, we had left the door open. No doubt, they were trying to get inside to see what yumminess might be therein. Mm-mm dog food! But the swinging door, hinged at the top, had foiled them, despite their curious, clever, wiley ways.
The next morning we shared our nighttime visitor experience with our camp neighbors. “Welcome to coon country!” They warned us of many more to come, and shared stories of coons so bold and numerous they’d take food treats from your hand as though a dog.
We’d have to watch out more carefully from now on. Take treats like a dog? Katie might have something to say about that… especially if it’s her dog food on the line.