Skunk Luck

Skunk Luck

From: "Fleischer, Beth A (MAge)"
To: "''"
Subject: Travel Story
Date sent: Thu, 3 Jul 1997

Having lived in Alaska for the last couple of years when I went back east for a visit I wasn't too concerned about wildlife in the great wilds of that Pennsylvania campsite. In Alaska you have to constantly be on the watch for grizzlies and angry mother moose, but back east generally the camping hazards are limited to scratches from blackberry thorns, or poison ivy. So I guess i was rather relaxed about campground safety.

My friend Stacy and I were camping out in a rather well populated campground. After a nice dinner and some late nite chat we decided to retire to the tent because the mosquitos were beginning to drive me crazy. We lay in our sleeping bags, munching on oreos and gabbing until we both drifted off to sleep. At some point i woke up feeling very warm - I have an Alaskan sleeping bag - meant for colder climates so I opened up the tent door. The mosquito net zipper was broken, but I figured not too many bugs would venture inside because we had doused ourselves thoroughly in OFF!. I quickly fell back asleep, feeling much cooler.

Some time later I was awakened by a weight on my feet, and an odd crackling noise. It sounded something like cellophane. I ignored it, figuring that Stacy had woken up and was having a midnight snack, but in the spit second I had opened my eyes, I caught a glimpse of Stacy next to me sound asleep. My eyes snapped open - I was instantly wide awake and I very slowly lifted my head to see what was on my feet moving around.

It was a skunk, who had wandered into the tent to partake in the feast of leftover oreos. My eyes widened and although I desperately tried not to move or make any noise, I believe I squeaked in surprise, awakening Stacy. I very quietly and firmly said "Stacy, DON'T MOVE" imagining the horrible stench that would be the result of getting sprayed by a skunk at this close range. The thing was sitting on my feet for christs sake! Stacy looked over at me questioningly and I gestured slowly toward the skunk. She looked down, towards our feet and said "OH SHIT". We lay there in frozen terror for what felt like hours - staring at this skunk, itching but terrified to move, desperate to run, but unable to do anything but watch the animal eat and eat and eat. Stacy kept whispering "oh shit" and I kept shushing her. Every time we spoke the skunk would look up and then disregard us and continue to eat his oreos. Just when we thought we couldn't stand it anymore we heard voices from outside the tent, the people next to us on the campsite were awake and getting up! Their dog must have smelled the skunk because he began barking. The skunk, which seemed totally unfrightened of Stacy and I obviously did not like dogs, and began stamping its feet (a pre cursor to spraying) . I looked at Stacy with panic because I knew i couldn't stay still for long. I must have jerked my feet because the skunk spun around and its tail lifted. At this point Stacy and I knew there was no hope and we both screamed in preparation for the spraying.

Nothing happened.

The skunk looked annoyed, and stomped its way out of the tent. Stacy and I dove for the tent door and zipped it shut in record time chanting thank yous to the skunk, to mother nature to anyone that would listen for our salvation.

Beth Fleischer

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