Escape from Tucson: Day 4 – Saturday (early afternoon)
For crying out loud!!! Where do I begin? Last night was awful…to say the least. Well, not the entire night, but the majority of it was as nerve wracking as anything I’ve ever done. I never fought any house fire that was anywhere near as nail biting as last light. But, I am safe. Not through any expertise of my own…just shear dumb luck I am alive this morning.
The first part, about ten miles, was nothing, easy as it could be. I made it in about five hours I’m guessing. The airport was dead, dead as a graveyard. Another three or four miles and I was at the spot where the tracks passed under the interstate. Again, absolutely nothing. Nice. But then it changed dramatically.
There were mobile homes really close to the railroad tracks, I mean within a hundred feet or so. And every single family in Benson owns a couple hundred dogs! For goodness sakes…I’ve never seen so many dogs in my entire life…ever! Fortunately for me, all of the mobile homes had trees planted along the tracks at the back of their lots. Probably to give them some kind of break from the trains passing multiple times of the day and the night.
So I get close to this place called Fat Possum Coffee House and there’s a party going on. I am a freaking block party. There must have been fifty or more people there grilling and drinking. I think mostly grilling so they could drink more. Now wait a minute…this is about 5am! I was screwed. I hadn’t really thought it through very well and missed the whole thing about the nights being fairly short. I hadn’t given myself enough time to get through Benson.
Fortunately I was on the north side of the town with the track berm providing some cover for me since they rose about four feet in elevation above ground level. And town was to the south of the tracks. I had to make a decision, it was getting light, I was just coming up on the really populated part of town, and I would be easily seen by anyone on either side of the tracks. The houses were within a hundred feet in some cases. I figured I just couldn’t chance it, I had to pull up and hide for the day.
I found a spot on the map were the tracks went over a pretty deep arroyo and figured that was as good a place as any. Just to the north of it is an area with a fair number of pretty dense tree coverage. If push comes to shove I can make for the trees and maybe stay hidden.
So last night I am trying to get past this freaking party. I thought about it for maybe fifteen minutes and couldn’t come up with any logical or decent sounding plan. I mean nothing came to mind. So, by default my plan was to simply keep walking. Yeah, I am not the brightest bulb on the tree. Actually, there probably aren’t any bright bulbs on any tree any more.
Just about the time I thought I had it made I am coming up on a street. Did the tracks run under it? Nope! Did the tracks go over it? Nope! Did the tracks cross like a regular railroad street crossing? Yup!
So I am crouched in the tree line trying to figure out, what now? There was no easy answer to this one either. I had to cross the street, four lanes of street, as the sun is coming up, with a party less than two or three hundred feet away. Might as well own it! I just stood up, and started walking like I belonged there and everyone could kiss my…ah, backside. And to make sure that you understand my luck…I met four kids riding their bikes down the street. They were two boys, and two girls. All about age seven to nine. I waved at them, they waved at me. They kept riding, I kept walking. Good grief!
About a quarter mile further down the tracks is where I found this spot where the track trestle crosses the arroyo. I was absolutely exhausted. The walking wasn’t so bad, not at all. But the tension from everything just plain wore me out. I immediately got settled in and fell asleep. Mistake!
I was sleeping really well, I mean lights out! I was dreaming about riding in an electric car, just purring down the highway somewhere in the mountains with tall pine trees. It was cool outside with clear blue skies. The woman I was with, I will say for the record -my wife- had a scarf on that was blowing in the wind. Then the car started making a strange sound like it was struggling, losing power, or trying to gain power. It sounded like someone downshifting and the engine revving up and making noise. Well, it wasn’t the electric car in the dream that was making that noise.
I woke up with a real start, as if something was very wrong. I knew there was something wrong before I even opened my eyes. And there they were…five dogs staring at me about twenty feet away. They looked like they really weren’t pleased with me being there…really not pleased. I imagine that they were also a little nervous as well, hesitant. Otherwise, they would have already started sharing me for breakfast. I opened up my eyes and didn’t move and muscle.
The dilemma was simple; 1) jump up and yell at them and try to run them off, while letting everyone within a couple hundred yards know I was there, 2) not do anything and trust to luck, 3) use the knife in my hand and fight it out with about 300 – 350 total pounds of dog, 4) figure out another option quickly.
As I was trying to think what it would feel like to be eaten alive by a pack of dogs I remembered my pepper spray. I slowly got it out of the pouch on my right side, moving my knife (yes, the Hissatsu) to my left hand. I kept my knife ready as I wanted to be ready to defend myself should the canine assault force enjoy the pepper spraying they were about to get.
I was in such a weird frame of mind. I mean I was scared, or something like it, but I wasn’t worried. Yeah, somewhat contradictory, but that is just what was in my head. I figured this Pitbull/retriever to be the leader so I looked him dead in the eyes and whispered for him to come. The idiot started coming closer. But, his lips pulled back showing his teeth made me feel as if he wasn’t exactly coming closer for a Milk bone. He got about five feet from me and I gave him a face full of pepper spray. OK, not at first. My first attempt at spraying him produced absolutely nothing at all. Not a single drop of spray came out of this “law enforcement grade” junk.
Ha, then I remembered that you use your thumb to quarter turn the button. That worked, out came the spray, dog yelps, and flips around and runs off. Two of his buddies joined him. It took one more shot to convince the last two dogs that they too should join their companions. Pepper spray back in the pouch, knife back to the right hand, roll slightly to the right, and back to sleep. I woke up some time later, not sure how much later, now I am writing this.
I can hear people talking in the distance. I can also hear more than just a few gunshots. There are also sounds as if an engine of some kind running in the distance. I am sure it is an engine, I’ve heard that sound before, and I just can’t place it.
I really want to keep walking, to get out of here, but there are more houses less than a quarter mile from where I am hiding. And then there is the main part of Benson to go through. And the map made it look as if there are going to be houses close to the tracks on both sides. Not something I should be doing during the day. I also don’t feel much like sleeping. I feel too anxious (yeah, scared) to fall back asleep. Where there is one pack of dogs, there are more…or owners walking around as well. I’m just going to rest, stay still, and hidden.
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