Mr. Mouse in the House

In the spring of 1999, I spent some time mountain biking in the deserts of southern Utah.  One night, I parked near a trailhead and was going to sleep underneath the stars, but I sat in my car and wrote letters before going to bed.  I was near a canyon wall and I heard lots of small rocks falling down the cliff.  However, there were too many rocks falling and something seemed amiss about the whole situation.  “Hmm, I wonder if the cliff is about to fall down” crossed my mind.  Then it sounded like my foam sleeping pad was unfurling.  Next it sounded like rocks falling again, just that it sounded like too many rocks.  Then the sounds seemed to be coming from inside my car.  It sounded like something rubbing against my sleeping pad.  “Never mind.” I thought.  I turned off my flashlight to look at the stars.  Next thing I know I feel something large crawl across my thigh. I jumped about a meter.  This maneuver was made a bit more difficult by the fact that the roof of my car was only ten centimeters above my head.  I had no idea what it was: lizard, mouse, or snake? An intruder was inside my car.

I heard this thing crawling around and still had no idea what it was.  I opened all the doors to let it crawl out.  I finally caught sight of was a mouse.  I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but it was better than a rattlesnake.  I finally gave up on trying to get it out of my car and would deal with it in the morning.  I enjoy sleeping under the stars, so I went outside for the night.  I placed my food on the roof of the car.  Usually you would put your food inside of the car to keep it from animals, but this was a different case.  I was lying on the desert floor and twenty minutes later a mouse approached, but ran off when I moved my head to see it.  The next morning I cleaned everything out of my car and couldn’t find a mouse, but did find some of my food that it had chewed on.

Two nights later I parked in the same spot.  It was lightly raining off and on, so I slept in my car and heard noises similar to the other night.  The mouse was back.  I looked at my watch; it was 12:33 a.m.

I tried to figure out where the mouse was and open the door nearest to it.  I was poking around under the seats, but this didn’t work.  I went to sleep, deciding to live with it until the morning.  Then I heard it chewing on something.  What it was chewing on, I didn’t know.  Was it electrical wiring, my backpack, biking clothes?  I didn’t know and none of these were good options.  I had to get rid of the critter, but I couldn’t harm it.  It was just doing what mice do and I like mice after all.  I was unsuccessful in my efforts and the mouse would only move around when the lights were off.  I tried to go back to sleep again, but the chewing continued to bother me.  This happened several times.  I heard the mouse chewing on my bread and tried to catch it. The mouse ran for it and disappeared under under the driver’s seat.  Obviously, this called for a plan....

I placed the bag such that if it were going to eat the bread, it would have to climb into the bag.  I would then grab the bag and ‘bag’ the mouse.  After a few minutes, the mouse climbed into the bag and was finally caught.  I put him outside of my car and tried to get to sleep.  It was 1:46 a.m.

It was so nice to have silence and not worry about my stuff.  This lasted twenty minutes until I heard something crawling around my car again.  I had no idea how the mouse was getting in and I've never had problems with mice.  This had to be the same mouse since it was able get into my car.  I saw the mouse on the passenger floor.  I jumped at it, trying to catch it under a piece of plastic.  It ran into the heating vents and disappeared.  I could then hear the mouse crawling around the ventilation system for a while.  This was really annoying, as it just seemed to mock me.

Eventually the mouse crawled out of the vents.  I saw it at various places in the car.  I'd a diving leap for it over the seats and try to trap it under a jacket or corner it under the dashboard, but to no avail.  It always evaded me and seemed to do so without any difficulty.  I continued to stalk him and tried a number of different tactics, but nothing seemed to work.  The mouse was always one step (scamper?) ahead of me.

My furry nemesis finally decided that it wanted more food and starting to poke around the bread.  I set the trap again and finally caught it after a ten-minute wait.  This time I wouldn’t make the same mistake and the mouse was gently deposited far away from the car.  It really was a cute little guy.  Whiskers, light brown fur, and neat-looking black eyes.  So a slightly disoriented mouse and a mountain biker with a smile (from both amusement and the thrill of victory) on his face parted ways.  It was 3:36 a.m.

While the world goes on with its business, nations rise and fall, and galaxies explode, I find myself in the desert, engaged in a three-hour and three-minute pitched battle…with a mouse.