Fear.

When mountain lions dance in your head, don't ask to join!

It was around this time last year that I began to resign myself to the fact that my coastal forays would soon be at an end. Autumn was here and within a month, time would fall back; meaning a decline in available daylight after work. It wouldn't be too long before my trips to the coast would cease altogether.

For some reason though, I kept pushing myself! My heart wasn't ready for the long, cold winter I guess. By the time November 2nd rolled around, I was utilizing my camera settings for low-light conditions and felt quite confident (and this was without using a tripod either!) in my abilities.

This coastal sojourn was initially meant to photograph waves. Nevertheless, I found myself in the parking lot at Point Cabrillo instead. There was no way I'd be going home without at least one photograph!

One other car was in the parking lot and that made me feel better. Passing the mountain lion warning sign on my way down the old Coast Guard road, however, did not. Passing a couple of bucks with their girlfriends in the tall grass made my mind wander in all kinds of bad directions. "But there were still people down at the lighthouse," the voice in my head told me. And then I passed them too.

When I finally reached the majestic lighthouse, I had very little usable light left. Blue hour was an understatement. Navy was more like it. I bumped my ISO to 1600 and quickly walked to a couple of different spots I had in mind. Silently I cursed not bringing the tripod, yet I somehow managed to stay still enough for clean shots!

Now it was time to head back up the road to my car.

It wasn't quite nightfall, but dark enough to make out only faint shadows of things in the distance. Thanks to social media, thoughts of mountain lions danced in my head, as there had been A LOT of sightings in and around the area... and then it happened!!

Something crossed the road ahead of me! A chill ran up my spine; the hairs jutted out from my arms; a lump now in my throat. "Oh shit," the voice in my head whispered as quietly as it could, as if even being mentally loud would attract this creature's attention! I began to contemplate, to wonder, how I was going to play this one out. "I love you Arlo." The voice whispered once more before silence.

I kept walking. Cautiously. Should I be loud or should I hope to be stealthy? I began to sing one of my favorite 1940’s hits, “Tangerine.” There was a slight tremble in my voice.

You have to understand too, I don't frighten easily. Not by anything.

On this evening, I'm not afraid to admit I was spooked!

I strolled closer to where I thought the creature crossed. My voice grew deeper as I continued to sing:

"And I've seen toasts to Tangerine
Raised in every bar across the Argentine
Yes, she has them all on the run
But her heart belongs to just one
Her heart belongs to Tangerine…"

There it was! Rustling in the brush beside the road!! FUCK!

Much to my delight and obvious relief, it wasn't a lion, but a couple of the resident Odocoileus Hemionus Columbianus; black tailed deer. I startled them as much as they startled me. My heart continued to beat rapidly though. I still had a little ways to go. My car... felt so far away. Adrenaline had kicked in! I would make it!

Needless to say, I survived my journey up the old Coast Guard road and into the parking lot. My car was a welcomed sight as I unlocked it quickly and got in. The voice in my head giggled nervously, and then I kind of felt silly. Silly for many reasons. There probably wasn't anything to be worried about in the first place. And if I chose to do something like this again, I was definitely going to bring a high powered flashlight!

The question I'm sure you're asking yourselves is, " was it worth it?"

Yes. Yes it was!