Dave, my host at my first night’s lodging in Ojo Caliente, guided me from the moment I crossed into New Mexico.
He had warned GPS was unreliable and with a pretty big mountain thunderstorm underway and after 13 hours of driving I was one tired traveler and not surprisingly, got lost.
Dave managed to instantly calm me with his über chill vibe and the soothing rhythm in his voice I associate with a native southwest accent. When I finally found the right road and turned off 285 a tall, skinny big bird was opening the gate for me. It was Dave in his heavy yellow rain jacket.
I’d made it. He shared info about the land as we drove back to the cabin. He decided to regale me with the story of finding and eventually catching a very tenacious rattlesnake by his hot tub that morning.
A f*&!ng rattlesnake?
Here are the details of his conversation my mind grasped onto for dear life:
95% of rattlesnake bites come from people trying to pick the snake up (not something I would try to do)
Their sound is not like the rattle you hear in the movies, it’s more of a buzzing (good info to know for down the road)
The relocation of the rattlesnake led Dave to feel a little sorry for him since he was now not in familiar surroundings (Dave had dropped him off up the road). He was homeless. (empathy for this poor little guy – helpful emotional connection to the snake)
Dave gave me a short tour – the outdoor shower, the compostable toilet outside of my cabin, water to wash and water to drink. He encouraged me not to leave the front door open to the screened-in porch as mice might come in. Demonstrated how to use the headlamp if I needed to be out at night. Suggested a shower might be nice after such a long road trip. Might help me relax. Oh, did I seem uptight?
I have this fantasy I want to be a nature girl. As a result I somewhat consistently put myself in situations where I test this delusion of mine. Hell, I even pay for the pleasure.
At this point, having gone over all the details to “make my stay comfortable” Dave abandoned me. Said he was just a text away if I needed anything. He smiled. Oh what a sight I must have been. I finished unloading the car and pulled out my bottle of wine. Even on edge like I was, I couldn’t deny – it was a beautiful night and the wind in the cottonwood trees made a sweet gentle sound. I decided I could handle drinking a glass of wine on the screened in porch. It was a nice way to smell the rain, listen to the far away rumbling thunder and slowly take the edge off. Just sitting in stillness and following my breath.
In my peripheral vision something darted out from the corner of the porch and came running at me. I screamed and the dropped the wine glass stopping his forward movement. My visitor retreated giving me enough time to pick up the glass and run inside. Yup. Dave was right. The mice liked the screened in porch. I locked the door. That’s it. I was in for the night.
Or was I? As I laid down for bed the two glasses of wine caught up with my bladder. I had to go. I thought about the prospect of putting on the headlamp and walking around to the back of the cabin where the toilet was. In the middle of the night. In the woods. With a rattlesnake somewhere close by….and according to Dave’s “Welcome” book in the cabin bobcats, coyote and elk were in the area as well.
I thought about how my bravery was rewarded on the screened in porch earlier.
I decided being 45 years old and wetting the bed was a small price to pay for staying alive. Worst case scenario? I’d buy Dave a new futon, but there was no way in hell I was going to the bathroom. Nope. No way.