I woke up in my dark hotel room snuggled deep within the fluffy comforter. My back started itching like crazy, just under where my bra would wrap. I realized it had been itching for one-two days because I remembered scratching it while driving. Then I remembered the tick in my bed the previous night!
Panicked, I jumped out of bed, pulled up my shirt, and tried to look at my back in the mirror near the restroom. I saw two huge circular type bumps that felt hard to the touch. I also saw a lot of scratch marks from my finger nails.
I worried it was a tick, but it didn’t look like anything was attached. One of the bumps looked like it had three bites that swelled up into one large bump. Then I remembered the spider that I had seen in my safari tent that I chose not to kill, thinking he’d stay in the corner. Even though that seemed like ages ago, only a few nights had passed since then.
I tried to piece together what this was and where I got it. After two nights in the safari tent, I stayed in Vancouver and had a very difficult time sleeping because I was burning up. Was I bitten there (there weren’t any window screens)? Was I having an allergic reaction to the bites from the night before while in the tent? Or was there a spider in the creepy motel with a tick? I think I had been scratching my back since leaving Vancouver, so whatever bit me was probably in the tent.
I googled insect bite patterns to figure out what it was. The itch was pretty severe so I found a medical clinic nearby. But since I was in Canada, I had no idea how the medical system worked. I walked in and went to one of the counters. The woman told me they only take same-day appointments at 8:00 am and I’d need to get there by 7:30 am and get in line. Great, I was leaving the next day. She recommended I go to the pharmacy and see if they could help.
The pharmacy was just down the street and had a small-town feel. I walked to the register in the small building and told the guy that I had bumps on my back that I thought were spider bites, but I wanted to make sure they weren’t ticks. Most importantly, I wanted the itching to stop!
The man called to a nurse who was at another counter and told her about my issues, and said maybe she could help me. The nurse took me into a small exam room and lifted up my shirt. She took pictures for me (I’ll spare you from seeing it) so I could see. She didn’t think it was from a tick because there wasn’t a bull’s eye around it. She said, “I think those are spider bites and you’re having an allergic reaction.” “Great”, I replied. “I’m allergic to bees and many other things, so this is no surprise.”
Back out in the lobby area, the nurse helped me find some Benadryl cream and Benadryl pills to take. The man at the counter asked what the nurse discovered and he agreed I should get the cream and take the pills. He also warned me that they were having a major yellow jacket season, worse than they’ve ever seen. He said they had already seen more than 300 patients this summer with stings. An older woman sitting in one of the waiting chairs holding her hand chimed in, “That’s why I’m here. I got stung on my hand by a yellow jacket.”
Oh man, I had noticed some bees here and there, but to hear that so many people had been stung terrified me. I carry an epi-pen, so I should make sure it was accessible. I took the cream and pills and was thankful for their help.
I got some writing done and then went for a run around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful sunny day and it felt good to get some exercise after so much driving.
I went to the hot tub again that night to take advantage of having it available.
A man came in shortly after me. He looked to be in his 50s, had neatly trimmed salt and pepper facial hair, and glasses. We introduced ourselves and started chatting.
Robert drives a large truck for a living and was currently in route to Fairbanks from Texas. During the last 22 years, he’s gone back and forth between living in Fairbanks and living in Anchorage.
Robert gave me lots of tips of things I should see and do while I was in Alaska. He mentioned Valdez and said people used to be able to do tours of the facility, but since 9/11 civilians are not allowed to visit. He described the site as something amazing to see with all the oil tankers from the Alaska pipeline. In Fairbanks, you can still see the pipeline out of the ground, which he recommended I check out.
I was getting the feeling that Robert was trying to hit on me, but then he received a text message and said it was from his wife. She was in their hotel room and wanted to let him know that Stephen Colbert was on.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable, I said I needed to get to bed so I got out, grabbed my towel, and left the hot tub area. People frequently ask me if I get nervous traveling alone as a female. Most of the time, I feel fine. But every once in a while, I get the creeps from a guy. When I do, I try to get myself away from said creep as fast as possible. I’ve also learned to be aware of my surroundings. If walking alone in the dark, I usually have my keys ready in my hand to use as a weapon if I need to. I also trust my instincts about men and situations that I feel uncomfortable. It’s not as scary as it sounds to travel alone. You just need to be aware and trust your gut. I don’t let fear control my life, and I feel as long as I’m prepared, I’ll be ok.
Post Edited By: Mandy Strider