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Panther Creek Adventure

Posted by elenahuerta10 on July 6, 2017 at 10:30 PM

I took my son car camping for the first time in the beautiful and scenic Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Specifically right along Panther Creek. It was so gorgeous, the entire way to the site I kept wanting to stop and photograph the natural surroundings because I'm kind of obsessed with capturing Nature's beauty. We stopped for a couple things, water and a lighter, and at one point my son saw his first deer up close. They were no more than 10 feet from us, just exploring by the convenience store there were two!

I wanted to get to the campsite before it had gotten dark. I had decided the easiest way for me to camp solo with a babe was to rearrange my RAV4, have my Japanese futon mattress in the back, and create a sort of nest. I did just this while my son skipped around the site. The campsites were actually really nice for rural sites. They were spacious and each had firpits to use. I had brought a BBQ box to burn which didn't lead to a full campfire for the night, but the coals went for hours after my son went to bed so I could sit by them and be warm. Once the bed was set up Phoenix played in the car. The entire trip he was so excited to have his little cubby to hang out in.

I got Phoenix to sleep with the back door open that night, thinking the sound of the river would be nice for him to sleep to. I had been able to back up fairly close to the water and the sounds were surreal. In fact it was so loud that at one point I had the crazy idea that I would have preferred total silence to the sound of the river. I later realized that the reason why I was being easily overwhelmed was because I was to start my menstrual cycle that next day. More on that later, which I'm sure you're excited about! ;)

After all was set and Phoenix was down, I sat and meditated for a very long time. A couple times I felt something on my foot and kicked it off, a little weirded out. It happened until I saw a mouse run by me and realized that's what kept touching me. I laughed, pretty loudly, and realized that I was being so quiet they probably didn't even know I was under the towel they were running on. I started drumming ceremoniously on my thighs because I didn't think ahead to bring any kind of drum. It was a good meditation and also seemed to keep the little critters away.

Since we got to the site near nightfall there wasn't a lot of time before I got tired. I decided that I would walk out to the road to look at the stars, since we had a pretty good tree covering where we were, and then go to bed. I walked out to find myself wishing I was wearing my glasses so that I could see better and ventured back to the car (it really wasn't that far) to get them.

Now if you are a parent or know a parent, you may know how messy cars can get with kids. My ex and I had a running joke about all of the food that would pile up around my car. In fact, one day I got the nerve to vacuum it and within 10 minutes my son had managed to dump both a container of chicken and a bag of trail mix on his lap. These are both foods that he is usually good with and it seemed like a total coincidence (a hilarious one at that) that he did this.

Fast forward to the present moment and I am walking to the car, go to open it, and with my iPhone light I see something moving inside the car seat. It was flipped upside down in the drivers seat, as I had mentioned I turned the back cab into a bed. It was one of those damn mice! I had left the back door open and it, being nocturnal, came out for food while it was dark probably smelling all the things inside my car from a distance away. I was floored, how was I going to get this thing out of my car with all of this stuff piled everywhere and a child sleeping in the back?! I tried to scare the mouse out and it just hid. I left the back door open and went to say goodnight to the stars thinking maybe the mouse would leave out the back while I was gone. The stars were even more gorgeous now that I could see them clearly. They danced across the sky as if meticulously choreographed by some great magic making creature. Upon return I went to replace my glasses and guess what, not only was that little mousey still there - HE HAD A FRIEND! They were both inside the car seat! What the hell? What am I going to do now? I thought. I again tried to scare them away.

I chased those little furry creatures around my car for an hour. I kid you not. I could see them poke their little heads out and when they got scared they would run through the back cab around the edges of the little nest that I had set up. I wanted them out! I didn't want to trap them in the car with us, but I also didn't want to leave the doors open for more to come. AND it would get cold. Closing the doors was necessary. I kept trying to scare them and one actually left. The other mousey would hide in the frame of the car. Nearing the end of that hour I thought, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe it would clean up the car a little bit, and it's not even touching our bed any ways. Just like that it proved my wrong by running through the blankets my son was curled up in and the Mama Bear inside me flipped her shit! I'm a vegetarian, but at that point I would have killed that little mouse if it would have held still long enough. I continued rampaging through the car trying to get the mouse out and reluctantly decided to go to bed.


After I got all settled and curled up next to my child, I listened as my little not-friend ran around. I again thought, maybe it would be okay, just to have that thought met with the site of mouse poop on the edge of the futon mattress. I again had a flip moment and scoured the blankets to make sure there wasn't any more. Until my phone died I would turn the flashlight on quickly every few minutes trying to see what the mouse was doing and scare it from our end of the car. When it died I gave in and tried to relax. I fell asleep that night to the sound of little mouse feet crawling every which way all over the car. I totally thought the car was just being swarmed by mice, until I realized that I was taking this whole situation to an alarmingly anxiety producing level and decided it wasn't worth the stress. I was literally contemplating how to leave the campsite that night because I was so on edge about the whole thing. It wasn't until I woke up in the morning to both silence and no little furry creature that I realized all the noise was Mr. Mouse trying to escape to the outside through the framework of the car. Haha, I thought. He didn't realize that by not leaving he would actually be stuck.


This trip was just my son and I, but while I was chasing around the little mouse I imagined that if anyone else were with me they be laughing profusely. If I wasn't so frantic, I would have been laughing at myself. I was so distraught over this tiny mouse, literally one of the most minimal risks to survival ever. That mouse was more scared of me then I was of him and likely would never ever touch me or my child. And I return to the whole "starting menstruation" thing to say, no wonder I was so fixated! Hormones going crazy, not even knowing yet, being triggered. When I woke up and realized this was happening, everything made sense.


I like to repeat the affirmation to myself "everything is happening at exactly the right time, exactly as it needs to." It's a coping mechanism when something feels out of my control. This affirmation manifested with my menstrual cycle. I learned from a yoga video after this adventure that in more primitively times, woman would have their work taken over by the men of their tribe for the first two days of menstruation so that they could go sit by the river and rest. Looking back, the fact that I started my cycle the morning after we arrived at the river was just mind blowing. And I had been intending most of the day to be one of rest. We woke and ate breakfast, walked around, played, and while Phoenix napped I both rested and nurtured my creative energy. After he woke it wasn't long before we left. I planned on this trip being very minimal. No cooked food, car sleeping, only what we needed with only the intention to relax into the natural surroundings for a break from the world.





We packed up and traveled back home, I was still gawking at the sites the entire way. I didn't realize and it is so amazing to see how much there is to explore within a single hour of where I'm living. The Columbia Gorge is just crawling on both sides with waterfalls, rivers, campgrounds, outdoor activity, etc. The man we had met before we started this journey had explained to me that with a Tiny House you can park in each National Forest for two months with no issue and simply move locations when needed. The idea of this totally inspires me. What would that be like? I've heavily considered living in an RV for years now. I thought it would be useful to be part of a festival circuit too until I figured out that my work doesn't sell well at a lot of festivals. The idea of living so minimally and rustic just feels so my style. I'm seriously considering purchasing that guy's house though, or if not that something similar. I've been making mental and physical lists of the place I wish to manifest, but that's another post for another time. Overall this trip was fantastic. Simply being near the water and hearing it for a long period of time was exactly what I needed and wanted. I'm grateful to have given my son this experience as well!

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