In all of my years at Camp Cazadero, I have seen and encountered lots of wildlife. Our wildlife over all the years that I’ve been associated with them have been normal. But there are three incidences that happened over the years that have brought us some amusement and wonder.
The first one was a rabbit which ran out onto our fire escape road in front of our camp truck. I was checking out the road as I normally do to make sure that our two mile fire road was open. The rabbit jumped out in front of the truck and started running down the road. My wife and I thought that the rabbit would soon run off the road at the first easy access up or down the side of the road. But we were wrong. The rabbit kept running in front of the truck as we drove down the road. We thought any minute now the rabbit is going to jump off to the side and we will pass the rabbit by. But to our surprise, the rabbit just kept running in front of the truck down the road. I stopped the truck to wait and see what the rabbit would do. Hoping that this would give the rabbit a good chance to look for an alternate route. But to our surprise again. The rabbit just sat there looking at us. So I slowly moved the truck forward hoping to inspire the rabbit to take another direction off the road. Instead of going off the road. The rabbit continued to stay about 20 feet in front of the truck. I would slow down and the rabbit would slow down, I would speed up and the rabbit would speed up. We were amazed at the rabbit’s tenacity for wanting to be in front of the truck. I thought about getting out and walking over to the rabbit and maybe having a conversation saying something like are you lost? Do you need help, etc. so I stopped got out of the truck and walked towards the rabbit to find out if it would go off the road. Instead the rabbit just kept moving forward as I came towards it moving about 20 feet in front of me. I gave up and turned around and walked back to the truck and as I did the rabbit just sat there looking at us. The rabbit waited until I got back in the truck and as I moved forward towards the rabbit it adjusted the distance from us to it to be about 20 feet and then started running down the road in front of us. This continued on for about two miles all the way back to the camp. There was no one in camp during this period of time so when we got to our flat meadow part. The rabbit hopped a bit up in the air we think saying thank you for the adventure and goodbye. Then finally took off on the side of the road and disappeared. Apparently we had reached either his driveway or his off ramp to its house.
The turkey vulture episode. On another day at camp I was working in our lower meadow around our cabins, which has a view of our fire road out of camp. This was the fire road I just mentioned in the rabbit adventure. I looked up from what I was doing and I saw a turkey vulture walking down the road. I thought that’s odd because turkey vultures hop or usually fly. I watched the vulture for a while. It continued on the road until it got within about 20 feet of me. I decided to go over and take a look to see if it was okay because I thought it might be injured. The vulture just stared at me as I walked closer to it. When I got within about five feet of it I had to stop because of an enormous of skunk smell reeking from it. My eyes started to water and I turned around and walked back away from the vulture to its relief and mine. When I got about 20 feet away from it. The vulture turned its head and looked at me and then headed down the road continuing to walk. I thought there had to be something wrong with this vulture. I was going to see if I could help it out or if I needed to call animal rescue. As we went further down the road. The vulture was still walking as I followed it. But then, to my complete surprise. After we had walked about a quarter of a mile. The vulture just looked at me, spread its wings and took off. I still am in stupefaction as to what that was all about.
Now just recently as I was coming into camp I encountered a squirrel that ran out in to the middle of the road. I watched the squirrel because normally they stop and slow down, never making up their minds in which direction they’re going to go. If you’ve ever encountered a squirrel watch them start off to the right then go to the left and then run back to where they first started. They never seem to make up their mind in which direction they are going. As I stopped I was expecting this type of squirrel display. To my surprise again. The squirrel started running down the middle of the road. I thought is there something that our animals catch that could be some kind of a weird road virus that makes them run down the middle of the road completely out of character. I thought this can’t be happening again because squirrels would never run down the center of the road in a straight line or of for a long time. But to my surprise the squirrel kept doing the same thing that the rabbit did. Again, I wanted to get out of my car and go over to the squirrel and ask it how you are feeling. Are you feeling anything strange? Is there anything you have eaten like fermenting nuts? But I just kept driving towards the squirrel and the squirrel just kept on running down the middle of the road. Well I thought how far are you going this time? It was not a very long distance though like the other two about a quarter of a mile. Then the squirrel flipped up, jumped and tossed himself off the side of the road and then up a tree. Luckily these encounters that I have with our animals only happen every few years. If it continue to happen more frequently. I would want to know if they have encountered an outside influence like a flying saucers from other space. That would have caused this type of behavior by having a close encounter of some kind.
If you ever get a chance or would like to bring a program to Camp Cazadero. You may at some point encounter one of our road walking creatures. We have a lot of other adventures you could go on like a walk back in time. Where we take you to see our old-growth redwood tree which is about nine hundred years old. We also have a Miwok village walk which includes the history of the Native Americans that lived in the area along with some artifacts. Maybe you will encounter one of these hikes our road walking wildlife.
-Denny Simpson, Camp Caz Site Director