Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Westie Wednesday - STRANGER DANGER!!

Remember that I told you we were going on a "hike" on Monday evening?  Well, it turned out to be a bit more interesting than I bargained for!

We drove to the park.  Behind the park there is a forest of sorts.  In this forest is a trail.  Not a path that the city has made all nice and safe for you.  A real trail.  With roots and such coming out of the ground.  Like this:

So we start out on our hike.  It was an absolutely beautiful day....

Louis found some water, and decided to walk through to cool off.  And to have a sip :-o

Let me also share with you that having a walk with Louis does not equal real exercise for those walking him.  Any time that I plan to get REAL exercise, I leave Louis at home. Why you ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  It's because you are lucky if you are able to take 10 steps before Louis needs to do this:

Or this....

Or this....

We hiked for about 45 minutes.  The entire hike looked a lil somethin like this:

My little guy doesn't get out much.  I mean he goes to doggy daycare, and to many of my friend's homes, and on walks around the neighborhood....BUT..he doesn't get to go on adventures very often.  To places that he has never been to before.  To new places.  Which means NEW SMELLS!  So, this hike was about Louis, and I smiled the entire time.  Just watching him have the time of his life.  I was completely wrapped up in my little man, and not even paying attention to my surroundings.

We came upon a clearing, and while Louis was sniffing:

I took some really pretty pictures:

I'm not really big on taking "scenic" pictures, but something about the light on the water caught my attention.  We wandered further into the woods, and Louis found a big rock that got his attention!

I was so wrapped up in watching Louis play that I hadn't paid much attention to the man coming along the trail.  He had actually stopped to watch us. 

The thing is...this man was NOT dressed appropriately for walking on a trail.  He was in regular street clothes.  He looked "off" somehow, and he kept staring at us.  I hurried Louis up out of the water and back onto the trail.  I wasn't 100% sure how far we were along the trail, but I was pretty sure heading toward the man would get us out into the open much more quickly than going back the way we had come. 

So, we started walking toward him. 

I usually look people directly in the eyes and smile at them when I am walking by myself.  It shows that I'm confident.  I'm not weak or scared or easily intimidated.  However, I recently watched this Criminal Minds episode where a girl smiled at this crazy man and he began stalking her.  He interpreted her smiling at him as the beginning of a relationship. 

I was super nervous, and that is not normal for me. 

As it turns out, I didn't have to worry about how to react.  The man hurried past me with his eyes on the ground.  He was almost....abrupt. 

***SIDE NOTE - While all of this is going on I'm thinking to myself "OMG...he's totally going to kill me".  I kept replaying this Criminal Minds episode in my head where a killer grabs girls on trails just like the one I was on.  AND...THE TRAILS WERE IN VIRGINIA!  Good God.  What was I thinking?  Coming on to this trail by myself.  And with Louis.  EGADS! What would he do to Louis?  Would he harm him?  Would he let Louis run free?  Would Louis find his way out of the forest?  If he did, who would keep him if something happened to me?  I really need to update my will.  I need to make arrangements for Louis.  If I make it out of here I need to do that. car key is tied on my shoe.  It has the mercedes symbol.  There was only one mercedes in the parking lot.  He could get into my car and look in the GPS and find "home".  I need to change that.  I need to make it say something other than home.  So, all of this is going through my head the entire time I'm walking toward (and passing) this man.  I just KNEW there was something not right about him.  I had passed a man about 20 minutes earlier, and I absolutely did not have this uneasy feeling with him. 

You would probably, at this point, encourage me to stop watching Criminal Minds.  But would you be giving me good advice?  Because even though you may think I'm crazy, or overreacting, at least I am observant.  At least I am not oblivious.  I used to live my life that way.  Just floating around in a cloud of nice people and safety.  I never checked under my car or in the back seat before I got in.  I never carried my car key between my fingers while walking to my car so that it could be used as a defensive tool if needed.  Does doing that make me paranoid?  Or smart?

All of these thoughts caused me to turn around to look back at the man that we had passed.  And do you know what I saw when I did?  I saw a man standing in the middle of the trail.  Stopped.  Looking directly at me. 

So you tell me who is overreacting!

I scooped up Louis and ran as fast as I could go.  And I tripped and almost dropped the puppy about 10 times.  But I didn't slow down.  And I buried my face in Louis' fur.  And I kept saying "it's okay muffin, it's okay.  STRANGER DANGER.  STRANGER DANGER."  Had anyone heard me they would, undoubtedly, have found me to be insane. 

I did not look back again.  I did not slow down long enough to do so.  I simply ran.  As fast as I could.  And Louis kept licking me.  And I cried a little bit.  I cried because I realized that I had made a very stupid decision.  I went into the forest by myself with my little puppy.  And something could have happened to him.  My pup.  And it would have been my fault.  And that was stupid of me.

Eventually we burst into an opening.  Louis started squirming and I whipped out my camera.  I decided that if that man came out of the forest, and was following us, I was going to take his picture.  I'm not sure exactly how that would help if he abducted me.  He would probably take my camera too.  Whatever.  It made me feel like I was taking action.

Louis was, of course, oblivious.  He just wanted to keep walking:

And doing this:

I have never been so happy to make it back to my car.  I have never been so happy to lock the doors and hug the puppy.  Who rode home on my lap.  Which is bad because if I crashed and the airbag came out....

But I couldn't let him go just yet.  We were safe.  And he hadn't a clue how close we were to not being so.

Or were we?

So here's my question...did I completely overreact, and act like a fruit loop?  Or, was I doing what you would have done in this situation?  Clearly I need not be in the forest by myself ever again.  BUT...since I did find myself in that situation what do you think?

I let Louis sleep with me that night.  I told him what had happened.  What he missed.  Why I had scooped him up and run like the wind.  I told him that it was not because he had done anything wrong.  I told him that I was afraid we would be harmed by that man.  I asked him if I had been silly to react in such a way.  He snuggled up beside me and laid his head on my chest.  I'm pretty sure that means he thinks I'm awesome.  No matter how many bad decisions I make...



Through Rose Colored Glasses said...

GIRL! no you were not crazy! You have to listen to you intuition. It is our only animal instinct that alerts us to danger! You did the right thing.

Whitney and the Preppy Puppies said...

T, I am SO sorry. You absolutely did the right thing and I totally commend you for it. That guy was a creep for sure and no telling what he would have done had you given him even the smallest bit of recognition.
P.S. The pictures are delightful, especially all the ones of Louis in action on the walk.

how i met your father blog said... NO you did NOT overreact. i always, always, always carry pepper spray with me. always.
i would love a taser, but my dad tells me civilians aren't allowed to have them.
you MUST get yourself some pepper spray, they make it keychain sized.

always always listen to your gut.

Jess said...

You did not overreact at all!! I went hiking one day alone and vowed to never do it again...I did the same exact thing: saw someone sketchy and started to run (I pretended to just jog so he wouldn't think I was scared, but then I SPRINTED as soon as he was out of sight!). I was carrying a water bottle and was thinking of where I could hit him with it if he attacked me. What were we thinking?!?! I'm glad you're safe!

Sunshine and Summertime said...

Wow that sounds scary! I probably would have done the same thing had a creepy guy stopped and stared at me. Luckily, I have big dogs that might seem scary to an attacker....until they start wagging their tails and smiling....hmmm...

beautiful pictures of the creek and trees by the way :)

I'm glad you and Louis are safe.

the Hard Way said...

Holy Moly! No KIDDING stranger danger! Definitely no over-reaction there. I'm certain I would have behaved the same myself - complete with tears, stumbles and puppy cuddles. I always hate having to feel imprisoned every so often by the fact that I am a petite (some may say pretty) young girl. But there are certain things we ladies should not do on our own! Safety in numbers!! :p The path is really beautiful - don't stay away, but bring some friends next time!
SO glad you both made it home in one piece, phew!

Kim Reese said...

No sweetie, you didn't over react. Thank God all is well, but, please don't do that again! You worry me!!! XOXO

love jenny xoxo said...

I think if you got a weird vibe then you are smart to get the heck out of there. No point in ignoring your intuition and getting kidnapped or worst, right? It probably (hopefully) was just some random, harmless weirdo, but you just never know.

Maybe start doing some tae kwon do or something so you can kick some butt next time :)


Tiffany and the Munchkins said...

Yikes! I would have reacted the same way. You totally did the right thing by getting out of dodge. Buy one of those little cans of pepper spray to keep on your key chain or something. I am super paranoid , probably from watching Criminal Minds and such, but it's better to be safe than sorry. In this case, I totally think you did the right thing. You HAVE to trust your intuition.

Dee Stephens said...

GIRL!! Don't hike alone!! I did this once up along the Blue Ridge Parkway with Buddy and I'm not going to lie..halfway through I got terrible spooked and even called my Mom to tell her where I was, etc.
I have gotten to the point in life that before I do most everything these days I ask myself: "How do you think this might turn out?"
Better to be safe than sorry.

Ann said...

First of all that is exactly what a walk with Duke is like. He has to check out everything.
As for the guy, that would have totally creeped me out having him standing there staring at me. I don't think you overreacted at all.

ms. mindless said...

you totally have to trust your gut. it is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry.

DIMH said...

OMG You did the right thing running out of there! Do go to parks at dusk. And I am totally with you. I volunteer at a clinic in a sketchy part of town and I always walk out key in hand and hustle to the car looking in every direction. Keep yourself safe!!!

Elizabeth said...

Good for you for not caring about looking goofy and putting your own safety and that of the pup ahead of random people's perceptions of you! I have totally snatched Lilly up and run away when I felt like we were in danger. Overreacting? Maybe. But it's better to overreact than try to play it cool and end up getting hurt.

Carole said...

No, you did not overreact. You chose the wisest course of action, which was to run and get to safety.

Kassie said...

I think you did 100% the right thing. Our female intuition for those sorts of things are usually spot on--if you felt off, then you were right to hightail it out of there.

Though one thing: my self defense class told me it's actually counterproductive when you carry your keys in your fingers, to punch the attacker. The reason is that as women, we are pretty much not going to be strong enough to do damage enough to run away, and will just succeed in ticking the guy off and making him even more angry. Not sure if that's true, but you reminded me of it!

The Bee Charmer said...

You should not feel like you over reacted! You should feel proud that you took all actions to protect yourself and your baby. So what if you were wrong. Better that you were safe!

Jenny DB said...

Those TV shows can definitely mess with your head. The fact that you check your backseat getting into your car, maybe a little cooky :-) HOWEVER I do not think you 'overreacted' to this man. I think that anytime you have a gut instinct you HAVE to listen to it. 99% chance the guy was totally normal if not socially awkward, whatever, not a serial killer. HOWEVER that instinct is soooo important that intuition saves lives. YOu HAVE to trust it. BTW you should really start running with Louis. I guarantee if you run with him he will follow and just don't LET him smell shit. That way if it ever came to it, you COULD run away from a bad scenario... you cannot run very fast carrying your little LW. Just saying. glad everything is ok though, xoxox

Ashley said...

Um, I would NEVER ever have gone into the woods alone- or even with a big scary dog, nevermind a little one! :)
I am more afraid of the woods than I am walking alone down a city street at 2 AM!!! In fact, One I have done and the other I have not! I live in the woods now, and I wont even go out to my car at night time if I didnt park it in the garage.
Glad you guys were safe. Carry a weapon just to make you feel better?

Love Cocktails and puppydog tails! said...

Oh my goodness.... How scary! I think you were not overreacting at all! I always say LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS! if someone or something does not seem right then in most cases its NOT! I would rather hear that you were cautious and home safe with Louis then hear that you wound up in the news as a murder victim leaving Louis w/o a mommy! Glad you are safe and sound!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's overreacting - I think it's important to listen to your gut, especially in situations like that. Glad everything's okay though!

JKC said...

this story made my heart stop! thank goodness you two are okay!!!!