Our Californian road trip had finally taken us to our second campsite at Pismo Beach. Upon arrival, we decided to pitch our tent near the shower block. Okay it meant we were near the bins and the toilets but you couldn’t beat the spot for convenience.
Being under 21 in America meant that night-time activities were kept to a minimum. No bars and no booze meant that when the sun went down, we had little choice but to go to bed. Unless we continued to sit in the truck, sheltering from the bugs, whilst my travel buddy read magazine articles in various accents for my entertainment.
We laid out the tarpaulin which had got wet the previous night and needed drying off, climbed into our sleeping bags and settled down on our air bed, but this night turned out to be more eventful than usual.
I couldn’t say what the time was when I woke up but it was still dark and I could hear noises scurrying around our tent, over the plastic sheet. There was banging. It sounded as though someone was throwing glass against metal. There were weird, screaming noises. Someone was trying to get into our truck.
Was it a person? Was it a bear? (Yes, I do know it wasn’t going to be a bear on the beaches of California but I was half asleep and it did cross my mind.)
“Someone is out there”, I whispered to my friend. I can’t remember if those were my exact words but it was along those lines.
There was nothing we could do. Any possible defensive items were locked in the truck. All we could do was stay quiet, try to fall asleep and wait to see what the morning would bring.
We emerged to find nothing had changed. The truck was in one piece, the windows still intact and the doors shut. The tarpaulin was still laying flat next to the tent. But there was a crowd of children around the bin. Something was in there.
It was a raccoon. It was stuck in the bin and now providing amusement for the kids. That explained the banging, the screaming and the sound of footsteps.
It turns out, pitching up next to the bins was not a very good idea. But at least it wasn’t a bear.
Read more about my wildlife encounters here: Roaches, roaches everywhere