Saturday, July 05, 2008
I was ten, and excited to be on my first camping trip. As the bus of girl scouts groaned up the 405, I wondered what it would be like. The campsite was called Little Africa. I wondered why. Would there be a jungle? Zebras? Elephants?
Little Weedlot in the Middle of Nowhere would have been a better name. Gravel as white as moon rocks. Clumps of blonde grass... ...few wimpy oaks. This was no jungle. This wasn't even the woods.
It did have a stream. This excited us. Then we saw the duck. It was dead, slumped on the rocks as current flowed around it. Nothing like a dead bird to keep you out of the water.
On the last day I found the cage. It was the size of a garage, rising from the weeds like it grew there. Steel bars as thick as a broom stick grew from the cement base. It creeped me. A dilapidated trailer stood nearby. One girl claimed it had belonged to a former owner. She'd kept tigers in the cage, but they escaped, clawed into the trailer, and killed her. Was it true? I thought, Even if it wasn't true, why was there a cage? Who or what had lived in it?
It spooked me. The thought of it chilled the skin on my back. The chill followed me home.
Note: The park still exists, under a different name. There's very little online info about it, except brief (and favorable) campground ratings. I used a Google Earth photo to get the the tones for the background of the second image. I don't know if the cage is still there.
I never found out what it was for.