This is no problem. For years, my sister and I have worked out a mutually beneficial system in which I promise my sister that I will do all a project’s work for both of us and she will not mind when I abandon her and will also lie convincingly if asked about her participation. We both value our alone time. So far, it’s been a good arrangement. There are some advantages to being home schooled and old enough to have a driver’s license so I can disappear for a while on special school projects I dream up and my mom approves.
I drop Rose off at the outlet stores on my way up to the trail and promise her I’ll be back by 5:00. I’m guessing my phone may be out of range in the meantime. She waves her fingers without a backward glance as she beelines for the Gap.
I had googled “Vaughn’s Vacation Venue” the same night I found the cabin, hoping that I could get a little history on the place, but there was nothing. Maybe it had been abandoned so long, it had totally missed the age of the internet. And then I had checked out some of the hikers’ forums for the areas around the Falls. I thought for sure that the cabin would be mentioned somewhere--that it had intrigued someone else the way it did me, but again there was nothing. The cabin was only about two miles into the woods and just off a main trail. I thought it odd that nobody had mentioned it as a good destination for maybe a picnic with younger kids or something. It wasn’t that strenuous a hike. And then I started getting excited that maybe the cabin really is kind of secret. Maybe not as many people hike there as I thought they might. Maybe I’d have a chance to explore something all to myself.
Within ten minutes of dropping Rose off, I’m at the trailhead. I grab my day pack filled with the hiking essentials, plus food and water to last the day and start up the trail. I push back the hood of my raincoat as the cabin comes into view. The sun still hasn’t really broken through the clouds today and the rain started falling a few minutes ago. I was hoping to spend all day in the woods once I checked out the cabin, but there’s nothing like the water torture of a continuous drizzle. I wish the rain would come and dump it all at once in a fury and then be done with it like in Texas. At least I have a book. Maybe I can read for a bit in the old cabin and wait to see if the clouds ever let the sun peak through today.
I skirt around the boarded up front porch and start to make a 360 around the cabin. When I get to the back I see there’s a door that is hanging ajar. No need to break in; this is going to be easy. I hope somebody hasn’t vandalized the place. I push open the door and it swings soundlessly into the cabin. I take a single step up. The room is far from destroyed or abandoned. In fact, the cabin’s interior looks amazing. To start out with, it’s clean in a way that can’t come easily in the woods. There’s not even any dust or a single cobweb in a corner. This from a place that I imagined would be choked in years of forest growth and a haven for all sorts of creatures. Cheerful curtains frame the window and a small table holds two place settings with fresh flowers in a vase. I realize with a start that someone must be currently living here. But instead of bolting when I realize I’m trespassing, I find myself strangely drawn into the one room cabin.
In the corner close to the fireplace, a bed is neatly made and piled high with inviting pillows. I feel like Goldilocks as I drop my pack onto the floor and try out the bed. I bounce on it a few times to test the springs and then inexplicably recline until I’m enveloped in the nest of pillows. Intellectually, I know I should get out of here, but emotionally I feel incredibly calm. I wonder if the calm is somehow coming from inside me or if Vaughn's Vacation Venue is exerting some external force over me. I ponder getting my book out, but my eyes seem to close on their own accord as I snuggle deeper into the pillows. I can’t remember a time I’ve felt so peaceful.
Check back tomorrow to see if Goldilocks wakes up!