Bullwinkle – First Encounter.

 The rap on my door woke me from my afternoon doze.

            I’d left Tallahassee that morning bound for the ranger station at Crawfordville on the edge of Apalachicola National Forest. The rangers said I could park anywhere in the forest.  Only two campgrounds with facilities required a fee.  They provided me with dozens of pieces of paper about the forest, and I purchased the ten-dollar map detailing forest roads, campsites, and hiking trails. 

            I left the ranger station and southed past Crawfordville’s three stoplights and curved along the edge of the forest, looking for a sign marking the entrance.  I found none, so I picked a likely right turn and veered in.  Within a block I was surrounded by a thick growth of skinny pines.  And I mean skinny.  Eight inches wide where they came out of the ground, they tapered to three inches as they speared eighty feet into the air.

            Soon the paving became white hard-packed sand that slowed me to ten miles per hour.  I absorbed the rich array of greens, thick along the base of the brown pine punctuation marks.  It had been a year since a primeval forest had inhaled me so completely

            Although I noted several one-vehicle parking spots, I coasted onward like a schooner in a failing breeze, toward a spot designated on the map as Pope Still Hunt Camp and described as ten spaces, no facilities except portable toilets during hunting season.

            Hours later I came upon the camp and pulled into a driveway between the trees that opened into a grassy, sandy plaza that was twice the size of a tennis court. 

            I circled around the edge of the clearing away from the one tent and reined in the Jolly Swag.  Pleased that I could see no activity at the tent, I gave myself a few minutes for the lie-down I was entitled to after that three or four hours of earnest laziness.

            A few minutes was all I was given before the knock on the door.  The raps, hearty but short of official, raised me spring-loaded from my settee. I opened the door.

            “Ya want some books?” the man asked, holding up a couple of Grishams.

            An offer of books in the back country is the boondocker’s equivalent of a casserole.  Etiquette requires acceptance even if the meal is dog-eared trashy Harlequins.

            “Where ya from?”  he asked as he placed the books in my hand.

            “I came in from Tallahassee this morning.”  I said.  “First time in the forest.  Seems real nice, and this spot is great.”  Then added, “am I crowding you here?”

            “No, you’re fine.  You can barely even see my rig through the trees.”

            I looked and through 200 feet of vegetation could see only the corner of the cab-over bunk of a class C motorhome.

            I looked back at the man.  His face was as kindly as his manner.  He was over six feet tall.  He wore a gray sweater. Thin, white whiskers hung to his chest.  Twelve inches of clumpy straw-colored hair cascaded from the edge of his baseball cap to his shoulders.  Around his neck was a lanyard with s keys and a bright orange whistle.

            “AL is my name,” I offered.

            “Bullwinkle,” he answered with a toothless smile.

            “I‘d like to hear the tale that hangs on that name.”  I said. 

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9 Responses to Bullwinkle – First Encounter.

  1. Colleen Rae says:

    Wow, Al! You DO come up with the characters…Another one for the book. I would like to hear his story too of how he got the name, Bullwinkle.
    Your description of the drive back into the virgin forest was great as well as the way you worked the dialogue into the narrative. Becoming quite the experienced writer Mr. L. I like the way you use metaphors for the Jolly Swag. re: ship or horse (using rein). Forgive me for using my writer’s eye this time on your technique.

  2. Histscape says:

    Miss you AL. I agree one of your best discriptions of The Jolly Swag sailing into the Forest so to speak. Hope this Character is interesting and that you post some more pictures. Drop me a line. I have a manager and a chance of a life time. I Have news for you. ccc0149 Yahoo eh!

  3. UMM … from the couch to the settee, and earnestly. Sounds like a lotta challenge, there on the road and where you park. Dammit Al, you don’t have to make it so alluring – and there must be a name for pulling up a schooner “besides reining her in.”

    Like your new friend, certainly looks like a story, and if he doesn’t fit the bill, you’ll make him into one without a doubt. Enjoyed again your colorful description – almost there, could smell the pines.

    I’ve been missing your rambling voice, is it me? Or have you been distracted with other interesting things to coo at. But here you are now and I’ll be waiting for the second go at Bullwinkle.

  4. David Bauer says:

    I wonder what the orange whistle is all about. There must be a story in there somewhere. With a handle like “Bullwinkle” you have a rich vein to mine.

  5. Pat Bean says:

    So what’s the story. You can’t just leave us hanging. And by the way, you’ve been missed the past couple of weeks.

  6. Michael says:

    heard the first shoe, waiting for . . . .

  7. April Edsberg says:

    Al,
    I agree with everyone about your writing style, and I also like the way you built the suspense, leaving us waiting for your next story.
    Inspiring writing Al.
    April

  8. Karen Goucher says:

    Al,
    You have been missed. Like good wine…never gets tiring.
    Really enjoyed your descriptions. Have missed those too.
    The real story is in what you have been up to while not writing!!

  9. What a country. What a huge, huge country, with room for all kinds of trees, big or spindly, and characters to grow.

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