Night of the Living Raccoon
Have you ever have one of those trips where just nothing seems to go right? That was this adventure by far, despite how magical the photos may look. It was a trip full of rain, terror, and lack of supplies. Kara and I decided we were going to go camping for one night, and in Florida the fall and winter months are prime camping time.
We both rushed to get to the campground forgetting most of our supplies worried that we would not get a spot despite it being a Wednesday. Meanwhile in true Florida nature the afternoon skies were full of rain, so we utilized that time to go to the store to get food for our one night adventure. We tried to go minimal since it was just one night, what could go wrong? My favorite part is when we bought the charcoal for the grill but just completely skipped lighter fluid. No lanterns just two cheap flashlights. It was one night, what was the worst that could happen? We were tired, hungry, and just ready to start the actual camping.
Arriving back to the site we set up and just began to relax. We were out in nature and despite it being breezy with occasional sprinkles here and there it was great to just get away from everything. I was able to just sit with my camera and take it all in.
Most of our day was spent gathering supplies when it finally came time to relax it was perfect, a great location...until it became time for dinner. Kara had grabbed a granola bar out of her car for a snack before we went on a nature walk. Well the crinkling of a wrapper is something the raccoons are very familiar with.
I have spent my entire life camping, I am familiar with raccoons and we are also not naive city folk. We know that we are in nature so there will be wildlife. Up north, animals fear you and generally a loud noise or approaching them will frighten them off... not this guy. He chased her down to get the granola bar and then once he realized it was gone turned to me who had nothing! I had zero food and he came at me growling and snarling.
I'm no hero. We ran to the car. Chased out of our own campsite by a raccoon. This guy. I can not emphasize this enough DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.
The entrance for where we wanted to hike was by the camp host and we asked her to set a trap because we had come this far on our journey and we were not giving up yet. We only had so long before the sun set and we wanted to see the Split Oak tree. So while we were hoping that situation was being taken care of we went exploring and I was able to just enjoy the sights.
With the sun setting we headed back to the campsite to make some hot dogs over the fire. When we got there, we were witnessing the same raccoon trying to get into the trap. The woman had put it right by our site. He had triggered it so he couldn't get in, so when they came by to check he did the same thing and set it off right away but couldn't get at the fish. We weren't about to pull out our food and distract it from the trap.
Finally they decided to move the trap a little farther from our site. We began building a fire with our wood which we could not get to light. I pride myself on being a fire master. There is something very satisfying about just building a fire and keeping it going but this was proving difficult. Our light was basically gone, we had two flashlights and a very dimly lit fire.
We began cooking hot dogs, just enjoying the campfire (lets be honest it's the best part of camping). We got to eat a little before I noticed a lump in the shadows beyond the fire. I shined my flashlight and yelled to Kara because the little demon was back and he had brought friends.
Throwing sticks at them and hitting them didn't even seem to phase them. We would shine our little flashlights trying to keep an eye on them, watching them run up and down trees and loom closer. Finally we out most of our food back in the car to protect it. They caught on to this and would jump up on the car. We really didn't want our camping trip to end with us leaving because we had to go get rabies shots.
After about an hour and a couple s'mores we managed to get in between chasing them off, we decided to just call it a night. I wanted to get up early to shoot the sunrise. After being surrounded Kara scrapped the hammock and joined me in the tent.
I don't think I slept at all. It was just the sounds of raccoons fighting, scurrying and looking for food. They didn't stop all night, at one point there was one right by my head. Both of us pretending to sleep, hoping it would stop.
The sunrise however, was worth it.
Overall the camping trip was a minor success. As I drove away from the site my car covered in tiny raccoon prints I couldn't help but laugh a little. At the time it was not at all but now it's incredibly funny to us. Next time we will be better prepared, perhaps bring a lantern and a pellet gun. I do love camping but Florida camping is a whole other ball game that I am still trying to grasp.
Thanks for looking!
-MARMS (a true survivor)