I'm a little 'friady cat. Always have been. Probably always will be. Learn some of the back history on page 10. I've toughen up a little bit from the days of making friends drive across town to do closet-checks when left home alone, but not a lot. My 'fraidy-cat ways were in full force last week.
I was traveling in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for work. Round about 5 a.m., I roused myself from my comfy Hampton Inn pillows and set out in the beefy mini-van to capture the sun rise in the valley. You know I don't see 5 a.m. very often, but I just knew this was going to be worth it.
It was about a half-hour drive. There wasn't much time to stop along the way; I knew the best photos would be at the top. So I cranked up the radio, rolled down the windows and kept climbing. The necessity of the Tower quickly became clear. You couldn't see the forest for the tress... literally. There were no scenic vistas from ground level.
Finally, I reached the top. Just like my extensive google research indicated, there was a little pull-off to park at near a small path that would lead to the tower. Giddy with excitement over the pictures I was about to capture, I gathered up my camera and jumped out of the minivan and started my half-mile hike to the Tower.
I got about two feet past the graffiti-covered Tower sign and stopped dead in my tracks.
Hiker goes missing on Woodstock Tower Road
Ohio girl last seen eating breakfast pizza at local Hampton Inn, never heard from again.
I often imagine my life as it would appear in headlines. Working in journalism does weird things to the way you think of words.Sometimes I go ahead and write the whole news article in my head, too.
This front page story would be your typical young-blond-ventures-out-alone-and-meets-grizzly-mysterious end-news report.
I like to think my disappearance would be important enough to make the front page.
It would have quotes from the nice lady at the Hampton Inn who watched me devour the breakfast pizza and three cups of coffee. It was clear to her I was alone that morning and seemed disgruntled and uneasy. My family and friends would confirm that I was in fact not the kind of girl who ever had her whits about her that close to sunrise, which might offer an explanation. Or was I contemplating the inevitable demise ahead? Breakfast lady would certainly recall something seemed amiss the morning the blond girl set out for her fateful journey.
Stop it, Laura. Stop it right now. Grow up. Those kinds of things only happen in the news... not to girls travelling alone thousands of miles from home who don't tell anyone where they're going when they depart at sunrise to hike into the wilderness.
Go back to the van and get your cell phone. Keep one finger on 9 and another ready to follow it with 1-1. That will make you safe.
Laura, that's just creating a false sense of security. A false sense of security only makes you more venerable. Take a picture of your location and the van on your phone. Then if something happens and your murderer steals the van and all the search party finds is your cell phone, they'll be able to piece together what happened.
You can do this. You want to do this. You're an adult. Stop being a 'fraidy cat.
I turned around and headed back down the trail. I got about two feet past the location that previously sent me running back to the van.
*snap. crack. rustling*
What was that? Footsteps? A bear? I can feel something watching me. Is that a shred of clothing stuck to that branch? Is that all that remains of the last hiker here?
Stop it. Stop being such a baby. Stop being such a 'fraidy cat.
Another branch snapped under the weight of my approaching doom.
GET OUT NOW! NOW! GET TO THE VAN... NOW!
A half hour later, my heart finally returned to beating at a normal rate. I finally got enough courage to stop on the outskirts of town and try to regain a little dignity.