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Kansas City MO 64131






Cindy Maddera

The first time I ever went tent camping, Chris and I were attacked by an unidentified animal. It rushed the tent in the middle of the night and managed to tear a sizable hole in the fabric before Chris could grab his boot to use as a boxing glove to beat at the snarling bulge coming at us. We decided that it had to have been a rabid raccoon even though we never actually saw what it was. A few years later, we'd be camping in Osage Hills State park and have our second raccoon encounter. This time the raccoon was small and cute and just kept sneaking into our campsite to scrounge food. The moment we'd turn our flashlight on him, he'd run off. 

The raccoons at Watkins Mill are neither rabid or cute. They are thugs. Bold, run in packs, thugs. They have taken lessons from the Honey Badger. They. Do. Not. Give. A. Shit. At one point we looked over and a large raccoon was sitting in the middle of the picnic table and when Michael yelled at him "Dude! We're right here!", the raccoon growled at him. After the first raccoon sighting, we put all of the food including the ice chest into the truck cab. We put the lid on the camp box (pots and pans, utensils, cups, aluminum foil, stuff like that) and shoved the box under the table bench. The camp box is old and has seen better days. It's got a large crack in the side where I bumped into with the scooter, but it still holds stuff. Or it used to. 

That night, as we laid in the tent trying to sleep, we listened to the raccoon pack picking through our campsite. We could hear them chattering and knocking over a few empty beer cans. Then we heard the sounds of them trying to break into the camp box. Michael and I just laughed. Boy where those raccoons going to be disappointed once they realized the most edible thing in that box was Ziplock baggy of caffeine free green tea bags. Finally we heard one of the raccoons emit a loud shriek and they all scampered off, moving off to the next campsite. The next morning showed signs of a broken camp box and muddy prints all over a roll of toilet paper. We spent the day joking about how the loud shriek was probably a shriek of frustration after working to get a box open that contained only pots and pans. 

That evening the campground played a movie for the kids and had free popcorn. We sat around the campfire, eating our popcorn, not a raccoon in site. We'd put all of our stuff away earlier in the evening any way. I decided that I wanted one last s'more, thinking that this time I'd make it with Thinmints. Michael got up to get all the things out to make these and ended up tearing the truck apart looking for the bag of marshmallows. A clear image of that bag of marshmallows resting in the camp box entered my brain and I said "I think they may have been in the camp box". The one food item that just on accident got tossed into that box. The marshmallows had vanished without a trace. We were not the only victims. Determined that I would make a Thinmint s'more, Michael went off into the campground to bum one marshmallow from someone. He went to three campsites before winning a giant marshmallow. The first two campsites had also been robbed of their marshmallows. That shriek we'd heard the night before was not a shriek of frustration. Oh no. It was a shriek of victory. 

We didn't hear or see the raccoons that last night. They either knew that they'd gleaned all the food from our area they would get their hands on or they were passed out in sugar induced comas somewhere in the woods. My bet is on the later.