San Luis Reservoir Wilderness Area near Los Banos, CA - I have spent the better part of my evening on a "search and destroy" mission. The target: the multitude of ticks that have attached themselves to me and my two dogs (Stella and Emmy). You know how in some situations you have phantom-itches or you keep feeling an imaginary insect crawling on you? Well, it's like that except that they are neither phantom nor imaginary. Several times tonight I thought to myself "wow it feels like something is crawling on the back of my neck...I really hope that one is my imagination." Nope, it was real and alive and a tick. Yep, one of those blood sucking disease transmitters. Oh boy.
My day started off innocently enough. Woke up, enjoyed a wonderful breakfast while reading a book, looking out over some beautiful rolling hills. The weather was near perfect and it was nice to dry out from the previous rainstorms I've encountered during the past 3 weeks or so. I wanted to take advantage of this respite from the rain considering the forecasted showers for the next 10 days. Perfect day to hike down to the reservoir and go for a quick dip in the water. It was quite the scenic hike, dropping me down close to 1000' in elevation to the water's edge.
Although it took me a while to finally submerge myself in the chilly water, once I did it felt incredible. It was just nice to sit and relax by the water. Upon my return to my rig, I let the dogs in for a drink of water and suddenly noticed something crawling on Emmy. Crap! Ticks! I evacuated the rig and started my tedious search for the elusive arachnids (they are in the same class as spiders, having 8 legs). I spent a good 30 minutes on each dog, searching through their fur, brushing them, then searching some more.
Once I was done with the first round, I returned to the first dog...and found quite a few more. Back and forth I went for the next hour or so. Finally, I felt pretty good about the thoroughness of my inspection. Now it was my turn. I'll be honest here, it is very difficult and awkward to check yourself for ticks...there are simply areas which are nearly impossible to see unless you are a skilled contortionist...which I am not. But it had to be done, so arming myself with a small mirror and a headlamp, the examination began. Almost immediately I found my first passenger. It was attached about an inch below my belly button...thankfully it stopped there on its southward travels. Yet after checking myself and my clothing for 15 minutes or so, I found no other hitchhikers. "Maybe that will be it" I thought unrealistically. But once inside, I kept noticing a few ticks every time I went by the dogs (which was quite often considering the size of my RV and the fact that I REALLY did not want ticks inside my rig). So even now, some 7 hours later, I am still feeling the creepy-crawlies (some real, some phantoms) and doing the quick search of the dogs...and EVERY single time I look, I find at least one. Ridiculous. This most certainly will have an effect on my slumber tonight. And this really ticks me off. (oh come on, it was just too easy NOT to use a pun somewhere in here!). All things considered, though, I still had a beautiful day filled with sunshine, rolling green hills and a plethora of wild flowers surrounding me. I guess ticks are just part of the package.