Choosing to be homeless was not all that bad. For a while I lived inside my van with my dog and girlfriend. Most of the time I was happy that way, except for when the cops became bored and had nothing better to do than time-to-time harass us. Then I was arrested for an 'outstanding traffic warrant.' That night, because Mary did not have a drivers license, my van was towed and impounded. Never saw it again. While I was in jail serving 45 days (half time) Mary took care of my dog. By the time I was released she had found a new boyfriend (really nice guy) who offered her a much more stable environment.
I picked up my dog, gave Mary a hug, wished her a good life, grabbed my tent she had removed from the van and disappeared into the Shasta Mountains, above Silverthorn Resort. It would turn out to be the most amazing experience ever in my life. Talk about becoming one with the mountai and the animals it belonged to . . . that is exactly what I did, what I was allowed to do by the critters roaming over it.
In the beginning I was afraid, if that is really how to describe it. From the very first night my camp fire lit up the eyes of animals in the bushes beyond, causing them o shimmer brightly. With the passing f each night they cautiously came closer, until several were no longer concealed and appearing to warm themselves near the small fire. First was "Old Raccon," then "Scrawny Wolf," both obviously hungry, begging a morsel be thrown them. Though at first I had very little, of course I shared. Only the most heartless could not have. They came closer.
Soon the toothless Old Raccoon was sleeping in my tent; Scrawny Wolf lay comfortably between the tent and fire each night, in the gloom resembling a log. I would worry those times I looked out and "Scrawny" was not there.
Several months into my 'mountain man' existence, 'fear' no longer in my vocabulary, I folded out a flap of my tent and there sat a bear, 2 - 3 feet away. It casually turned its head to stare at me, its smell early overwhelming me. It stank! Of course, after a few days and night, during which it became obvious it had found a home, his/her (never checked, didn't ask either) smell no longer offended my senses. Came a time I began scratching its right haunch (always the right), felt its stiff fur caked with dirt, pebbles and twigs.
I awakened one morning expecting, as I had for 2 - 3 months, Old Raccoon to waddle out from my sleeping bag, where he/she (I never checked, didn't ask) had taken to burrowin. When Old Raccoon didn't move from my leg wher he/she always snugged, I reached down to find the little fella had passed on. Somehow sensing the others would want t be there, I waited until late evening befor I buried my friend. As I pushed dirt into the grave, I looked to the bushes where the glimmer of many eyes was proof Old Raccoon's friends were there.
For nearly seven months after, I enjoyed a menagrie of critters tht knew there was no ned to fear me. There 'was' one in the tree it never left. A cougar I saw only once, no matter I new it slept close every night by the sounds he/she (I certainl never checked, didn't ask) made; the oddy gentle sound while it snored.
One afternoon I noticed a change in the typically cool air. It was becoming colder. About that time I realized the animals had not come to visit for nearly a week. I remember hoping none had bee killed by hunters. I'd heard gunfire in the far distance about a week or so before the change in the weather.
Soon after a very bitter cold set in, I awakened to a foot of snow, and flakes large as softballs falling thickly. Instinct a little late, I knew I was in serious trouble. I also knew that Silverthorn was only a mile away. There would be someone, if only I could reach it. And that was a huge 'if.'
Sate and I began a journey through the ever deepening snow, toward the resort. There is no doubt I would not have made it except for the fact I well remembered he hidden, snow covered path. And then there was Sate. He knew exactly 'how' we would traverse that path. Trusting him without dobt, I followed.
Hours later, exhausted, at the resort ther was not a living soul other than ourselves, not even the burly "security guard" I had become acquainted with, who knew I was living on the mountain (private property) and said nothing. Desperate, I broke a window to enter the foyer leading to the Reception Hall. There immediately to my left was a small store, from which all perishabls had obviously been removed. Apparently someone had known the storm was on its way. I did find a welcomed cache of canned foods, sparingly some I put into my backpack.
Gas and electricity had been shut off. I searched nearly an hour in vain for a circuit box. Whenever I think of this time, I cannot help but wonder where the hell tht damn box was. There was a large generato for which I could not find fuel. What the hell good was an emergency generator without fuel?
Fortunately there was some nice winter clothing, from the price tags I supposed were meant for the rich folks who moored their million dollar boats down at the dock. The only way folks like myself were ever going to wear them is through thievery, which as you know, was not beyond me. I took what I needed and sewed leather booties for Sate - that he would kick off half way down the mountain. We began our treacherous and brutal journey of nearly six miles. Had I not been physically and mentally in my prime, come spring when the snows melted folks returning would have discoved Sate and I frozen, cuddled together as we did in life. Sate would never have left me, nor I him.
At the bottom of the mountain was a country store and gas station. Near was a residence, from its chimney flue smoke drifted lazily - a welcome site I must confess. We were taken in, where before a large fireplace we were melted before being driven out into civilization. It had been a close call, one of the most exhilerating of my life.
I never went back. I was arrested shortly after. Other than for the rifle I carried down, everything I owned was left there. Could be the tent and what little else I had is still there. But I kind of doubt it - before the storm I saw several people nosing around no more than two miles from my camp. It was getting crowded.
You will soon be able to read more of Sonny's "memories" in an upcoming book that is currently in the works. It will have a few stories that he wants to share, along with some pictures that in themselves will tell the story of his life from infancy to adulthood.
We will post updates here and let it be known when it becomes available.