90,000 Miles to Me
the base of two trees

7,649 Miles, Part 1 • My Friend, Mr. Squirrel

This is a backdated post from October 10th, 2017

Just as a slightly morbid aside—take this for what you will—I’ve noticed an interesting pattern to the roadkill through the past few states. In Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, it was all squirrels, then in Indiana and Ohio it was deer, and now in Virginia and Pennsylvania it is raccoons. Anyone want to explain that one to me? Anyway…

With the park office open at last, I got my camping pass, and yes, it really is free, and yes, motorized camping is fine. After what happened at Shenandoah, I triple checked that they were fine with me sleeping in my van, and they had no problem with it, and were very helpful in picking out a nice, out of the way spot. Though everything in the Bald Eagle State Forest is out of the way, so I needn’t have been concerned.

After following the ranger’s map for what felt like hours (probably about 30 minutes) very slowly over extremely rocky and potholed roads, I found my spot. The camping spots here have no services, facilities, or hookups, they are just small cleared areas where you can pull in and make do for yourself. Which was exactly what I wanted.

I still had a couple days’ work left on the book I’m editing, but the forest was so stunningly beautiful that I just sat there staring out the window at it. For hours. Watching a tiny, black-striped squirrel run back and forth between one tree and another across the small clearing. He would run through the fallen leaves that carpeted the forest floor to the tree right in front of me, pictured above, then scurry across to the other tree, then a little while later would come back again.

I couldn’t tell if he was stashing nuts or what he was doing, but watching him work, I felt like I was getting a glimpse of something sacred, and didn’t want to scare him off by getting out to go for the walk I had been looking forward to. So I watched in silent wonder.

When it was nearly dark, I dragged myself away and made a no-cook dinner of a stuffed avocado and went back to watching Mr. Squirrel at work and the orange leaves slowly falling to the ground.