Posted by: deadmousediaries | May 26, 2016

News from the Path Valley Hotel, Episode #92: Close Encounters

    The unseasonably cool and rainy weather of recent weeks has put a damper on activities and the guest list here at the Path Valley Hotel. The furnace still grumbles in the morning to chase off the chills and the wood stove has had to step up to supply the glow that’s been missing from that fireball in the sky. But what we lack in sunny spring days we make up for in unusual wildlife encounters. Take last week’s sighting as example.

To set the stage correctly, I need to remind you that the back yard of the Path Valley Hotel is a mountain. Fortunately, the PVH owner holds claim to enough of it to offer guests a fairly wide berth of privacy. At this time of year, the dense hardwoods obscure the neighbors to the right and left and also make the lane from the main road leading up to the PVH hard to distinguish. In the front, the nearest neighbor is a business only a stone’s throw away. It hosts long hours and is patronized steadily well into the night
and even though we can hear the conversations in their parking lot, PVH wildlife is largely protected from view.

   It’s also important to understand that on a particularly chilly morning earlier this week, the innkeeper started errands so early that is was too cold for only a light shirt and flip flops; she tugged on her boots and pullover sweater instead. As the hours passed, the sun came out in full force and it was obvious she had overdressed for the rest of the day. 

   By 1:00 p.m. the heat hit critical mass and she launched into her personal summer in the midst of her pursuit of yet another “important” piece of paper. Her temper flared and body temperature hit broil. She peeled off her pullover in the middle of her kitchen only moments before realized she had left her phone in her Jeep.

  I remember her decision-making process. The Jeep was only 10 feet away, and straight out the back door. Before stepping outside, she made a quick a scan of the woods and consciously checked the clock. It was well past noon which meant any stray turkey hunters would already be out of the woods. She decided then to make the dash outside and went for it, and by she, I mean me.

   It must have been a hybrid. Even the dog alarm didn’t go off it was so quiet. I never heard it until I spun around to see it crunching gravel at the top of my driveway. Our eyes never met. The man in his car sat frozen in my driveway. He had obviously made at least one glance to his right, seen me, and was now praying he wouldn’t be blinded for life. There was absolutely nothing in my Jeep I could grab for cover so I had to make a run for it. In the split second it took me to cross my arms over my chest and better cover the girls who were spilling out over my laundry-day underpinnings, I was amazed and grateful at how intently he was looking away. It was as if Rocky V was playing on the big screen somewhere right up on the mountain. I took three giant strides back to the cover of the PVH (Oh, hell, let’s be realistic. It was more like three bunny flops.) and slammed the kitchen door. Now what?

   What could I do? My attire had been at least adequate if not appropriate. It was too late to be embarrassed and too late to pretend I wasn’t home. I pulled on my sweater and headed back out just in time to see him backing down the driveway. I watched him turn around in front of the PVH and as best as I can describe it, hightail it out to the highway. I suspect he may have been off in search of one of those emergency eye wash stations, you know, the kind you seek when splinters of glass or metal fly into your eyes or when a chemical splash threatens to dissolve your retinas. But some things can’t be washed away. They can’t be unseen, either.

   Readers, if your husband, father, son, brother, boyfriend, fiance, nephew, friend or neighbor returned home earlier this week unable to speak or walked in speaking in tongues as from an alien encounter, I hope that you were gentle. He did the best thing a gentleman could during an encounter with unexpected wildlife but he suffered trauma nonetheless. Judging by the muddy ruts he left in his turn-around spot, there must have been a moment when he wondered if he would even get out alive.

   And to that guy if you’re reading, it’s more than Victoria’s Secret now and I thought it best to get the truth on record for both of us. Thank you for the courtesy of not hanging out long enough to be recognized or trying to conduct whatever conversation you first intended.

   In the end, there is an important lesson here for everyone and it is very simple: Do not drive up to the PVH without a reservation. We are not responsible for encounters with our wildlife.


  1. Oh………………gosh………….you had me in stiches!!!!!!!!!!!! My mind was trying to create an image of the entire scene………….

    I just love your stories and adventures!!!!

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