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Nsa Nsa grew up in Nigeria where it was not his custom to go camping. His wife was Canadian and she loved the outdoor activities in North America. This is Nsa’s account of what happened during a family visit to Yosemite. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles from a writing class held every Thursday at the Norwalk Senior Center. Curated by Carol Kearns
I was never the camping type. I was always the city boy. The idea of driving so many miles just to find a space in the woods to set up a tent had never crossed my mind. I’m a Nigerian and I have seen what types of critters and animals you can encounter in the woods, and I do not think about sharing space with them.
I had always believed in the animals keeping their distance and me keeping mine. As long as we did not cross that line, then life was fine.
All of a sudden I got married, and believe it or not, from then on my life wasn’t mine anymore. Rather, I became a family man and was thinking like one. My wife was from Montreal, Canada, and her family grew up camping and traveling. That’s how they wound up in Downey, California, and continued with their free-spirited outdoor activities.
We met, got married, and the rest was history. Now, one cannot make a decision without the other. Everything was a joint decision, and boy, did she ever find ample opportunity to sell me on the idea of going camping and how refreshing camping can be.
I agreed on one condition: we would spend our first camping experience together in a motel in the area, and while we were there, we would research the camp grounds and sites for our next camping trip. Even though that suggestion did not appeal to her, she went along anyways. So, kudos; one up for me.
We set out for Yosemite and we decided to stop at a day campsite where we could feed the kids before going back to check into our motel. As we pulled into the camp area, there were signs posted everywhere which stated, “Please do not feed or pet the animals.”
You would think that any reasonable individual who could read would know that those signs were posted for their safety. I hate it when people act stupid, because I can see a lady with her three young kids putting her children’s lives in danger by trying to get closer to the animals. This is no zoo, people; this is the wild out here! The animals are in their natural habitat and we are the intruders.
I can feel my blood pressure mounting after seeing this family still acting stupid, and my wife knew I was furious about something. She asked me what the problem was, and I told her to look out my window. By this time I felt the family was too close for comfort, and I blurted out: “Woman, are you stupid or something? If you have a death wish, why don’t you do it without your children!”
Even the animals were thinking, “Look at these stupid humans coming to say hello. They must not be from around here, but we will let them live if they feed us or we can have fun with them.”
I kept driving until I found us an open day campsite that was not taken. As we pulled up and were getting ready to get out, we had a welcoming committee. Two deer were approaching us, so I asked everybody to get back into the van until they left. But the deer came right up to the van with one on either side of the vehicle.
They had their routine down and we were trapped in the van. At this point the kids were complaining about being hungry, and my sister-in-law decided to reach into the ice chest and hand the kids sandwiches. The adults decided to wait.
The moment the deer saw the kids eating sandwiches, they started pawing and stomping on the doors of the van. So my sister-in-law took the sandwiches back from the children and put them away. At last the deer stopped playing the drums on my van doors.
I started the engine and was trying to leave when the deer started circling the van. Because I did not want to run them over, I stopped my engine. At this point the kids were crying because they wanted to eat.
I decided to improvise by asking the kids to take off their seatbelts and drop down on the floor of the van. My sister-in-law handed them their sandwiches and covered them up with a blanket. The deer suspected that something was amiss and started playing music on my van doors again. It was at this time that I found my window of opportunity to speed out of there. Now I could see why that spot was not taken.
Aside from that encounter, the rest of the camping went just fine. After that incident, I decided to change camp areas from Yosemite to Big Sur. At Big Sur, the beach is only five minutes away and there were no wild animals around the camp sites – outside of the campers’ pets (dogs).
I would say now that camping is good and fun. Try it when you can for a lifetime experience. Lastly, research your campgrounds before booking. Happy camping!
Published: Dec. 12, 2013 – Volume 12 – Issue 35