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Elk Neck Encounter

Elk Neck Encounter

Elk Neck State Park, at Turkey Point, Maryland
Skunk – 1, Campers – 0
My brother Phil and I used to tease each other about our rather prominent noses. They are hard to miss, and are a trait we share which neither of us has really learned to appreciate. Phil had “nosy” encounters while growing up, experiencing numerous scrapes, bumps, bleeds and scratches of and on his prominent proboscis. I also had my fair share, including having mine broken three separate times while playing field hockey at college. Seems as if he and I always seemed to lead with our nose when insults or injuries were being handed out. They nearly led us into a nasty jointly-shared situation which we now laugh about. One year after I had gotten married, Phil and our mom were invited to join my husband and me on a 4th of July camping trip to Elk Neck State Park. An old tent that my husband had used during his Boy Scout days was taken for mom and me to use as our sleeping quarters. The two guys tied up a large tarp adjoining the tent as a private sleeping place for themselves. They placed their sleeping bags there in a three-sided, roofless “sanctuary.” HAH! In the middle of the night, as mom and I were just drifting off to sleep, I felt something walking over the top of my head on the stiff upright, outside seam of the tent. The two guys were still wide awake. They hadn’t been able to get to sleep because of a seemingly insatiable drove of mosquitoes swarming and noisily dive-bombing them, and a never-ending barrage of beetles dropping out of the overhanging trees onto their faces.
As the creature walking on the tent seam began a slow, heavy progress up and then across my head, I began to whisper frantically to Jim, “There’s something walking on my head.” Jim, my husband, who was lying down on the farther side, told Phil to pull their tarp wall back and check it out. Jim got our big 5-cell flashlight ready. Phil got up on his hands and knees and pulled the tarp aside. Jim flicked on the bright light. There was instantaneous reaction! From inside the tent, Mom and I heard a muffled scream, saw the flashlight beam go flying and then heard the sound of bare feet madly scrambling and dashing through fallen leaves. That sound was quickly punctuated by the loud slamming of two car doors! Meanwhile, inside the heavy tent, mom and I froze. We didn’t dare move. We didn’t have a clue as to what had occurred or what kind of monster might be ready to leap into the tent after us. Finally Jim opened his car window and whispered loudly that there was a large skunk meandering around. When Jim had turned on the flashlight, Phil and the skunk, which had stopped on top of my head, were literally eye-to-eye, nose-to-nose! Fortunately for all of us, the skunk seemed totally unperturbed by the nosy encounter and finally wandered off without giving us a spray job. It was one time when we didn’t take it literally on the nose.
Our family had made many trips to Elk Neck State Park prior to that night. It was a fun place to visit. In the summertime there were steep, heavily-wooded cliffs to climb, and lots of sandy beach areas to explore. There was always a lot of interestingly-shaped driftwood along the beaches, and varied ship traffic going through the C&D Canal. It remains a very lovely and scenic and popular place to visit and explore. Just watch out for the skunks!

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