Allosaurus via Lean-to
04/19/2015 | Somewhere near Scappoose, OR
Recently while on a bike ride in the woods I passed one of these transient domiciles and I had a thought that held my attention: Why couldn’t this stack of sticks be something other than a shabby place to hide from the night?
Allosaurus via Lean-to
Lean-tos are creatively named small shelters built by leaning smaller sticks in an organized fashion against a larger more stable stick, such as a tree, or against one another in either the teepee or log cabin build format. They can be built in a variety of locations with the availability of construction resources the only limiting factor. Lean-tos have been found deep in the woods far off trail and so close to civilization that you can easily make out Robin Thicke in the air. Not strictly limited to a woodsman’s shelter these sometime small and uncomfortable structures can beguile the uninitiated. What is the motivation behind their construction? Escape from the elements, a place to rest, a meditative sanctuary, or maybe the architect-builder had nothing better to do while in the woods with their pre-adolescent children than to express an atavistic urge for shelter?
“Why couldn’t it be a doorway, a portal, and inter-dimensional gateway? What if you stepped inside and it took you some place, back in time to a Kmart of your past where you spent time picking through movie posters or it dropped you into the midst of stampeding bison driven wild by a hunting party of Native Americans cunningly guiding these brutes over a cliff to their deaths? Perhaps it could take you back even further, back to the terrifyingly unknown Triassic or Jurassic?” Normally these flights of fancy would be quickly stamped out with each tired step or pedal stroke but this time I decided to stop and have a look. No harm, no foul and besides I was hurting, I was looking for an excuse.
Walking up to the entryway I was aware that I wasn’t well equipped for any type of time bending adventure. I’ve seen Jurassic Park, there were extremely tall electric fences and concrete bunkers, jeeps, motorcycles, shotguns, tasers, radios, and friends. I was fundamentally without: no lighter, no knife. I did have a frame pump. I was dressed in cycling gear, clothing so specialized as to not even be passably useful for any other application. I had a half full water bottle, so I would be gambling with the prehistoric version of giardia. For my tender cosmopolitan feet, so used to carpet and socks, I was wearing carbon soled MTB shoes with slick metal cleats bolted to the bottom. Imagine trekking through primordial swamps, or over the razor sharp edges of freshly cooled igneous rock in a pair of fishing-line laced hi-vis footwear? I had my helmet, which would be a neat little challenge for the 55,000 Newtons of force put out by an Allosaurus engaging its “hatchet” hunting technique (there is some debate about whether or not the hatchet technique was a reality, but the hypothesis states that the Allosaurus compensated for its relatively weak jaw by simply swinging its head, mouth open and teeth exposed, at its prey à la a hatchet). Rad. Such are the trappings of time travel.
Motion picture time travel has yet to key in on the real and mundane issues faced in this kind of adventure, how perfectly adapted we are to modern living and how completely unprepared we are for almost any other time. In relation to my friends I wouldn’t consider myself a gear head, but this surprise time travel question got me to thinking. If one thinks of rational empiricism as just a series of really-good best-guesses then it stands to reason that there is a far outside chance that this type of surprise time voyage could happen. Considering this, I should at least always have a knife by my side—possibly one of those jobs with the hollow handle filled with fishing line, matches, a mirror and cyanide?
I don’t consider myself a smart man so I dared myself in to the shack. I sat under the domed canopy for a minute letting my imagination run wild on these terrors. Maybe I could have made it, my honed typing skills and advanced knowledge of the Marvel Universe finding applications in a day-to-day struggle with fangs and claws. I could have made a lean-to somewhere in the past and found rest under the star-jeweled skies, unpolluted by civic lights.
Imagine Castaway in the Triassic. I really don’t want to name my Giro Aeon “Frank” and recruit it as my only friend. I am not prepared for that, and I don’t think I know anyone who is. After a few minutes I crawled out, took out my phone, and shot a picture of the place. Adventures are amazing and despite all the many possible horrific outcomes I don’t know if I was lucky that this was a simple hovel. I do like the idea and occurrence of an unexpected adventure but I also like toothpaste, Ibuprofen, potable water, and a communal agreement on the rule of law.