One of my biggest complaints about the RV was that the radio doesn’t work.* It’s totally a nice-to-have though, which goes to show how little I have to complain about on this trip. If you don’t like scary, inexplicable, and very true tales, skip ahead to the next asterisk at the end of the post.
Tina and I had found our first ever dispersed camping site and were settling in after a particularly long day of driving. For anyone who may not know, dispersed camping is “dry camping,” no hookups to water, electricity, or sewer, and is done on public lands. The best part of all, it’s free! Particularly exciting during a month-and-a-half-long road trip.
We had done our research and decided on Welch Rd. an area right off of I-40 in Ash Fork, AZ. After getting about half a mile or so away from the freeway, we shut off the engine, turning on our solar-powered lamps in the pitch darkness inside the RV. I was on my computer writing until the the battery died, and Tina could only muster half an hour of playing Fallout 4 on her computer before she shut down and we both went to sleep. Before I drifted off, I mentioned to Tina how there were weird noises outside, like a clicking or gurgling.
“It’s sprinkling, make sure the roof vents are closed,” she said, then rolled over and started snoring.
Tina can sleep through anything: earthquakes, cats stepping on our heads, loud neighbors, World War III. I routinely awaken when a tire squeals five miles away because my unconscious is preparing for a drive-by shooting. So I sleep with earplugs, and we both use eye masks, a must for any camping, especially when the summer sun is up heinously early.
Around 6:30 I woke up to pee, the sun already out. I got back in bed and laid there, drifting back to sleep, grateful for the fact that our nearest dispersed camping neighbors were a quarter mile away and wouldn’t disturb us. Both of our cell phones were by our pillows, and set to silent. Even the cats were slumbering, late for them once there was light outside. It was just so peaceful and quiet.
I bolted upright before the music even consciously registered in my brain. I ripped my eye mask off first and pulled out my earplugs second to get a better listen. A song, with a melody, and words, was playing at 6:45 in the morning inside of our RV. Tina sat up too and mumbled an alarmed question. Perhaps it was the same question that raced through my mind at that moment: how in the literal fuck was music playing, so clearly inside of our vehicle?
I couldn’t even speak before the music stopped. We sat in bed in shocked silence for a few seconds. I got up and looked around the fold-out sofa, seemingly the source of the sound. My laptop, its battery still dead, was sitting out, as was Tina’s computer, which is always turned on when not in use to conserve battery for gaming. Our phone were both on silent and next to the bed. The engine was off, the radio couldn’t have been on, and all of the windows and roof hatches, except the one directly above our bed, were closed. It had sounded as if someone had a song playing on their phone, then hit the “stop” button to end it. There was no fade in or out, no reverberation or diffusion of the sound like there would be if it was coming from a source outside.
Always the scientist, Tina reasoned that the sound could have come from a car on the freeway, and bounced into the RV through the open roof hatch. I think that was her way of trying to calm us down; even she, self-admittedly, had goosebumps. There was no way a car on the freeway, or a nearby camping neighbor, could have transmitted a five-second snippet of song with pinpoint clarity as if it had originated within the RV itself. I knew that, and so did she.
With no way of plugging in any electronics, our laptops both off, and with an inoperable radio, there was only one plausible explanation. That shit was haunted.
*We ate a quick breakfast and headed out toward the Grand Canyon.