The Allure of Traveling Alone
Brief encounters, life-altering adventures, and lasting memories from travelers who have struck out on their own.
One weekend I went kayaking near Point Reyes, California. I reached a desolate beach by nightfall and quickly set up my tent and built a campfire. As I warmed myself and gazed at the endless stars, I heard a noise behind me. I'd been warned that there were elk on the island—and that they were in heat. Slowly, I turned my head, and a sound—a piercing, you-scream-like-a-girl scream—escaped my mouth. Only a foot away were six pairs of red eyes staring through the darkness. Shining my flashlight on the animals, I realized they were raccoons. No problem—I had been doing TaeBo and had seen a few episodes of Buffy. When my spastic movements didn't scare them, I picked up a stick and insanely clanked a rock. Success! But once they returned and I realized these were no Disney characters, a brilliant idea hit me: Run for the tent. As I hid, I heard them dragging away what sounded like a dead body. Then...scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch. They surrounded the tent and were itching to get in. Sometime during the assault, I passed out from fright, I mean fell asleep. When morning finally arrived, I emerged to see that the crazed beasts had dragged the dead body a hundred feet—and that the carcass was actually my backpack. To top it off, they had eaten all my Power Bars, which explained their ceaseless energy.