I had to drive down to NC to do some training at the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune in the middle of June. The drive down was pretty and thankfully uneventful. I spent the week there, staying with my daughter in New Bern. So I actually got to combine work with pleasure. The days were spent at the seminar, but I got to spend the evenings with my grandkids and my daughter and her husband in their beautiful home. The weather was steamy; and not being much of a hot weather person, I pretty much felt like I was melting. I headed back home on Friday afternoon after a doctor's appointment took longer than I had planned. I didn't get back on the road until almost 4 p.m. I was hoping to leave no later than 2:30. But as doctor's offices go, he was delayed and I needed bloodwork and, well, that's just how it turned out.
I was on a roll, baby, headed back to northern Virginia where I hoped the temperature would be cooler or at least less steamy. I was singing out loud with my ipod shuffle and had passed the rest stop about 15 miles back when suddenly I felt a little squirmy in my tummy. Oh no! I looked for a sign for the nearest rest stop -- 37 miles!! Are you kidding me?! There was nothing else to do but get off at the closest exit. I drove for about 5 miles looking for a drive through McDonald's, a gas station, anything. But I was in the boonies, and there was nothing around but woods, woods, farms, and more woods. There was nothing I could do but stop. It was an emergency. Thank goodness I always have kleenex due to my allergies. I left my car running since the temps were in the hundreds and I wanted to make a quick getaway.
I found what looked like easy access to the woods. I pulled way off the road. Now that I think back on it, I should have pulled off even farther, into the tall grass that lined the road that led into the woods. I traipsed through the tall grass, pushing it down with my feet as best I could. There were brambles and thorny bushes in there too. I made my way into the woods, not too far in because I wanted to keep sight of my car, but far enough where I knew I wasn't visible from the road. I took care of my personal, all the while praying, Dear Lord, please don't let a snake bite me in the a**. Eureka! A minute or two later, I was headed back through the tall grass towards my car, none the worse for wear. So I thought.
Of course, I felt a little itchy from the grass. When I got home I checked for ticks (they really creep me out) and thank goodness, I didn't find any. But the next morning, I had suspicious red bumps starting to rise on various parts of my body. At first I thought they were just the inevitable noseeum bug bites. But by the time I got home from work that evening, I realized I had picked up some hitchhikers on my foray into the woods. I had chigger bites (SOB!) *everywhere*! I put some hydrocortisone cream on them and tried not to scratch but you know how itchy they are. I probably scratched in my sleep without evening knowing it. AND to top it all off, I did find a tick. . . a little, tiny, seed tick right on my left knee. What kind of self-respecting tick would attach itself to a knee, I ask you? Actually, I was grateful because it was easy to pull off without leaving the mouth parts embedded in my leg.
As for the hitchhikers, they're pretty much gone now. I never believed in picking up hitchhikers anyway.