Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let's go Camping in the Scary Woods

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Commune with nature. 

Smell the flowers and... treesap and stuff like that...

Just us and the great outdoors... no TV or internet, no phone... no escape.. just some good companions and the Big Scary Woods.

"Us," was my parents, Boyfriend, and me.  Oh, and the dog, Bonnie. Who had never in her 12 years of life been camping before.

What could possibly go wrong?

We went to one of my favorite places to ski in the winter time.  It's an old logging road turned wilderness area called Sawmill (because people around here are very creative with naming things).

Since it isn't exactly a trail so much as an overgrown road with random turnoffs that lead nowhere, disappearing directions, and inconclusive maps, it's a fine  for skiing... It's wide (so you run into fewer trees), doesn't have much of a slope, and you can follow your tracks home should you get turned around.

In the summertime, Sawmill looks like a road in places, and sometimes looks like a field, and sometimes looks like you're just plain lost. On the plus side, there are rarely any people out there other than the random serial killer hunter, which is kind of the point.  We would be miles and miles from help from the distractions of the modern world.

We hiked in for an overnight trip, and only a mile or two, so the packs were relatively light. I had room to strap my second best ukulele to my pack so I could annoy the moose entertain myself during the long, and probably a little bit boring evening after we stopped (queue ominous music).

Yes, we're skeletons.  What of it?

And we put a bright pink flag on Bonnie Dog so that no hunters would mistake her for a bear.

It was a beautiful late summer day.

Bonnie romped around the underbrush on either side of the road, chasing squirrels and pretending to be a great hunter.  She seems to enjoy chasing squirrels, and the squirrels seem to enjoy teasing her back. 

After walking for about an hour, we came to a beautiful meadow.

The air was crisp at 10,000 feet, but no where near cold.  It was surprisingly lush and beautiful.

(A word of warning... For those of you who do not like violence, you may want to look away, now.  Shit's gonna get real.)

(For realsies.)


I can't possibly know the whole story, but I can extrapolate a little bit of the story that happened before we arrived....

Molly Meadowmouse was the... Verna Vole... Polly Packrat was the most beautiful rodent in the whole meadow.  She had long, silky silver fur, perfectly shaped rat fingernails, and the most mesmerizing brown eyes you've ever seen on a packrat.

She regularly had visitors from all over the woods to look at her splendidness, and had a list of suitors from the Rawah Wilderness to the Roosevelt National Forest.

A picture of Polly outside of her little tree hollow home shortly before... the incident.

One bright September day, Polly was sunning herself on a branch near the tree hollow where she lived.

"What shall I do today?" she said to herself.

The tree hollow house was stuffed to the brim with her winter stores, and there was little more that Polly could do to prepare.

"I think," she said, "I shall go down to the meadow and smell the last of the summer flowers and have a picnic."

So Polly packed her cheeks with some snacks for later, consisting of a few seeds, a late ripening strawberry, and some dandylion greens, and headed out.

She hopped down from her branch and skipped into the clearing. There was a flat area a few feet away that seemed like an ideal place to have her picnic lunch.  It was near a tree stump.

As she climbed the stump, a giant black and tan creature emerged from the brush.

"Why, hello!" said Polly.  She was not in the least bit afraid as she looked at the creature.  She assumed that this animal, like so many others, was here to admire her amazing beauty.

She was, of course, wrong.

She had time to let out one small, surprised squeak before the black and tan creature snapped her pretty neck.

"Bonnie!  NO!" shouted my mom.

"Drop it!" said Dad.

Bonnie is a good dog, and did as she was told, dropping the soft little body on the grass.

We all stood around, staring at the little dead thing, and reminding Bonnie to stay away seven or eight times.  She really wanted to go back for more.

"Maybe it's just stunned," said Boyfriend.

"Um," I said.

Probably not.

I briefly considered taking a photo of the creature because I always take pictures of dead things, but decided it had been through enough.  We followed my parents and the killer, Bonnie.

Not long after the incident, we found a reasonable place to camp.  There were protected areas in the trees, but open rocky areas where we could have a fire in relative safety with little danger of burning down the state.

This is a different meadow than the one where Polly died.  It's like, at least 500 yards away.

We spent a little extra time setting up the tents because we kept changing our minds as to where they should be.  By the time we had them put together, the light was beginning to dim.

Bonnie looked at each one of us, and whined.  It was as if she were trying to say, "Hey guys, this was a pretty good day, but isn't it time to go home now?"

Our tents are much more state of the art than pictured.  Much nicer.
What?  Maybe I am a gear snob.
Instead of going home, we gathered some branches and started a small camp fire while cooking dinner.  Bonnie was slightly less than impressed, and kept trying to crawl under low lying tree branches and shrubs.  She stared at us dubiously while we ate.

We celebrated our CaveMan like ability to create fire out of wet branches.  And a lighter.  What, did you think we were rubbing sticks together or something?  Are you insane?

I suppose that maybe Bonnie sensed what was coming.

Because we were camping.


So obviously it had to rain for the first time all summer.

And lightning.

And thunder.

No, there's still a coal over there.  I don't want to burn the whole state down...

Bonnie wasn't the only one worried.

We scrambled into our tents after stomping out the fire.

I played the ukulele, softly in the tent.  It was too early to bed, and I probably wouldn't attract bears.

The storm didn't last long, and we all bedded down to sleep.

Bonnie was in the large vestibule of my parents' tent, worn out and passed out. Fires and storms are stressful for pups.

The night grew calm.

All was quiet as the moon peeked out from behind the clouds.

But wait... something disturbs the night...

What is it?

Something searching... searching for the dog who killed her...

It could only be... Polly the Packrat, come forth from the grave to exact revenge!

Four hours dead and the ravages of the storm were not kind to that vain and beautiful little packrat.

Someone would have to pay for this...

...Or not.

Polly had time to let out a surprised, ghostly squeak before she was eaten by Bonnie for the second time that day.

And Bonnie went back to sleep with only a slightly upset stomach.


As we hiked out the next day, we passed through the meadow.  There was no sign of Polly's body.  Probably some other animal came by in the night and ate her.


Polly Packrat is survived by her 40 children, 637 grandchildren, and 1,198 great grand children.  She was 2 years old.


Angie said...

My God, did you do these drawings? They are amazing!

Leauxra said...

Angie, yes! And thank you! I got a new tablet and have been drawing ever since.

Well, first I had to play a bunch of video games, and THEN I started drawing. It turned out to be more work than I planned.

momnextdoor said...

Excellent drawings! Excellent story too..you know, if you like stories where rodents die...which I do. So good job!

Leauxra said...

momnextdoor: Thank you!
And oh, I've got some rodent death stories. Which is kind of sad, because I kind of think they're cute, but really. They die so easy.

Especially when you have cats. Or a snake. Or a dog. Or... pretty much any animal that likes to hint things.

JnetRuns said...

Love your drawings, especially love the big Polly the Packrat zombie.

Jim said...

Couple things. . . first of all, what are you doing camping? You seem. . . squeamish for camping. Don't get me wrong, I revere all life and whatnot. . . but it was a field mouse.

SECONDLY! Fantastic story and drawings as always. . . I really loved the color in these, and

FINALLY. . . what KIND of tablet? Although I don't have a tenth your talent, I would love to do better drawings than the ones I sketch with my finger on "drawsomething".

Leauxra said...

JnetRuns: Thanks! It's one of my favorites, too... I was just writing a boring old blog post about camping, when the inspiration for Polly hit me.

I kind of want a T-shirt.

Jim: As much as I complain about being Outside, being Inside is somewhat worse. And I have cats. Outdoor cats. Who bring in baby bunnies that may or may not be still alive, and dismember them. Guess who cleans it up? "Squeamish" may not be QUITE the right word.

And thanks so much for the compliment. I am using a Google Nexus 7, and for these, I used a cheapo Targus stylus and Sketchbook Pro. I am kind of pissed at Sketchbook Pro and we may break up soon, so I am trying out some new apps for drawing. I may even do four of the same picture using different apps, and see what people like...

Anonymous said...

New post, yay!!

I love . . . LOVE . . . as in want to marry it and have it's babies LOVE . . . the pic of Bonnie pouncing on Polly. So good. Whatever you are doing, keep it up. You are so very talented and I love the drawings.

Leauxra said...

Aww, Misty, you are making me blush. That was actually the last picture I drew for the post, so maybe I am getting better with practice.

I do need to figure out how to speed this up... it took all frigging month to get done with this thing.

KK and UK said...

These drawings are soooo cool, Leauxra! I wish you did one of these every other week so I could laugh like I did when I read this. Woot!

Leauxra said...

KK and UK: I WANTED to, but it took a month to get this done...

I have some ideas to keep these shorter, 10 pics each or so, so we'll see how it goes.


Stephanie said...

Holy CRAP Leauxra. Holy crap. I'm seriously in awe over here. You are crazy talented! Did you seriously draw all of those free-hand using a tablet? I'm just...holy crap. I'm impressed, but I'm also really insanely jealous, because I've decided that my novel-in-progress really needs to be a graphic novel. So I'm learning to draw. But it's...not going well. Ha! (Any learn-to-draw pointers? Or did you pop out of the womb already disgustingly talented?)

LOVE the trees as the new blog background too!

Just love, love and more love for this whole post. (Poor Polly though. Dying twice in one night...that's gotta suck.)

Leauxra said...

Stephanie: It is my firm belief that ANYONE can draw, and draw well, as long as they practice... I was always drawing, but I didn't start liking what I drew until I got through "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" when I was about 11. It's hard getting back into it, but this is good practice for me.

And besides, your scuplting blogs are amaze-balls.

I, too, want to do a graphic novel. Novels. Out of the NaNoWriMo book I'll be writing in November (are you going to do it again hint hint). This post reminded me that it will take longer than I thought!

Stephanie said...

Yes, I'll definitely be nano-ing! Want to be email buddies again?

And when i told JP that I wanted to draw a graphic novel, I showed him yours and said "See? Like that!" Ha! (He loved your Bones story, by the way.) Anyway, I'm thinking that maybe I'll sell my first novel, get really rich, and then hire you to do a graphic novel with me in the future. And even if you're busy, I know you won't say no, because I'll offer you a really obscene amount of money. And then we'll make even MORE obscene amounts of money, and then we can just hang around being rich and obscene and stuff.

I've heard of that book before (drawing book) and already have it on hold at the library. Lots of people have told me that it's amazing!

Leauxra said...

Stephanie: Yes, and YES... I would love to be email buddies again, and I will totally be obscenely rich doing obscene rich things with you....

Huh. That sounded kind of dirty.

I am hoping that I will get faster the more I draw, so maybe it'll be a thing like, you send me your idea, and I whip it out in like, an hour, and we both become instantly internet famous. That would be awesome.

StephanieC said...

Your drawings are amaze-balls, Ma'am.

I love the crispness of the tree branches and the night sky.

I also really like Holly and the vain fieldmouse.

(Proof positive that a good manicure is never really worth it...)

Superawesome blog. I want to start drawing again. I should read that book.

Well done!!! Worth the month-long work!

Excuse me while I lay back down and try to prevent my sinuses from exploding all over.

Leauxra said...

StephanieC: Isn't amaze-balls an awesome word? But thank you so much for the compliment.

I am starting to sketch out the next one already, once I find a new drawing app I should be golden.

I kinda changed around the whole blog on a whim, but I kinda like how it turned out, so I think I'll leave it, and I am randomly overly proud of this post.

StephanieC said...

You deserve to be, it really is great.


Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

Ah so the lightning must have reanimated Polly. I'll make sure I'm aware of such possibilities next time I go camping.

P.S Love the glowing reanimated burp coming out of Bonnie's mouth.

Leauxra said...

Oh, so THAT'S it, Christian. The LIGHTNING. I should have thought of that! Whatever was I thinking?

Also, I am particularly proud of that burp. (Huh, I never thought I would sat that as an adult).

StephanieC said...

I meant Bonnie.

Not Holly.

I blame the Sudafed. I'll stop commenting now.

Leauxra said...

StephanieC: Ha ha ha. I knew what you meant. And watch that Sudafed, it will mess you up!

Love said...

Leauxra, so hot damn amazing woman! I read this through at least ten times. I wish I could illustrate my life like you just did! You could sell this as a children's story! I would buy it in a heartbeat!!! I want drawing lessons from you. Imported directly into my brain and hands from yours. MWAH :-* Moaaar pleeeze!!!

Leauxra said...

Love: Thank you! I SHOULD write a children's book... I just can't quite come up with the right story for it.

I am working on more, but I have to learn how to use a new application... this one has gotten buggy. Maybe in a couple weeks.

Stephanie said...

Are you serious? Because I'm totally serious. We'll DEFINITELY be internet famous someday.

I want to email you re: nano, but for some reason I can't (my netbook mail program won't open your "email me" link properly). Can you email me?
stephanie at claybaboons dot com

Izzy Mason said...

Your drawings are bomb! Love the ones where Bonny has some reflected light from Polly on her. Iiiiimpressive. :)

A Beer for the Shower said...

These drawings are incredible. Hard to believe you did them with just a tablet. As a moron that draws doodles in MSpaint, I am completely in awe.

Leauxra said...

Izzy: Thanks for saying! I am trying to come up with another post before the madness of NaNoWriMo next month, and my creative bone seems to be... sprained. I really just need to draw every darn day.

A Beer for the Shower: I kind of wish that I HAD just done doodles in MS Paint... see, now I've set the bar too high, and when my next post has stick figures, everyone will be disapointed in my complete lack of amazing sillz.

Pearl said...

Good God what a wonderful ending. :-)

The last time I camped, it rained so hard and for so long that the tent collapsed. I ended up sleeping in the backseat of a Honda. I don't like talking about it...


Leauxra said...

Pearl: Thank you! I had about 10 endings in my head, but this was my favorite.

And camping IS dangerous business. I went camping twice this summer, and I can guarantee that the other trip will be a blog post, too. Eventually. Once I get through writing a novel in November and drawing a picture every day of the month.

Why do I do this to myself?

Chelle said...

You're right. We should be best friends.

What's your phone number? (Askingforafriend)

Anonymous said...

Count me in among those who want you to illustrate our graphic novels. I have a storyline that would work great as a graphic novel/manga, but I need someone far more talented than I to do the drawrings. You're hired!

Leauxra said...

Chelle: Do you promise you are not a crazy stalker? I mean your friend?

nagzilla: My rates are reasonable :) But thanks for saying I'm talented. Once I can get myself to do this stuff faster, it will be much simpler to do it more.

Chelle said...

I promise nothing.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! And I love the art!

Leauxra said...

trieker: Thank you! And I've gotten lazy since then. Also: it took a lot of time to draw this level of detail, even reusing the backgrounds.

I have to save it for the really special posts now, I think.