My wife Beverly ,W5OW, and I bought a condo up high in the mountains of Ruidoso, NM. We put up our tower and found we were in DX heaven! Beverly also got a new escape artist cat for Christmas. We named him Waldo Catanatch Stinker Snake-rat Carlson. You'd better get outside quick and close the door tight or he will escape - every time!


Beverly had left the day before to be with her mother who was hospitalized with congestive heart failure, and I was up at the crack of dawn on a cold 19 degree winter morning to fill the kerosene heaters and to check the ice on the antenna before calling CQ. I took the two heaters to the balcony to fill them, and of course I got out fast and closed the door tight. Damned cat didn't have a chance.


I was in a real hurry to get done as I was clad only in my bathrobe slippers and headphones and it was mighty cold out on the open air balcony at elevation 7058 feet. It didn't take me long to finish pumping kerosene and discover that I was locked out!


I could see through the $225.00 double pane window (which I hoped I didn't have to break) and could see Waldo Catanatch Stinker Snake-rat Carlson playing with my wedding ring which he subsequently hid so well I couldn't find it for four days.


A strong wind had whipped up and it was hard to think logically in the mind numbing cold, but I knew I had to do something fast because of the possibility of freezing to death, and because I had left a pan on the stove (on high). Yelling for help from the neighbors in the next door condo was useless because their condo had been gutted by fire the night before and they had sought lodging elsewhere. The next nearest neighbor was half a mile away, and I considered trying to get to them to call a ham friend who had a key to my condo. I wasn't sure anyone would open their door to a stranger in a bathrobe slippers and a headset "Hey Myrtle, call the cops. Theys a big white guy on our porch yelling something about a phone. Come look, you know this guy?" Besides, I didn't really think there was time for the neighbor option anyway due to the pan on the stove. Could have really used my handy talkie now. At least the headphones were keeping my ears somewhat warm.


Light bulb! I had been outside earlier to check antenna ice and didn't think I locked the front door when I came back in! OK then, the plan was to climb over the balcony guard rail, lower myself hand over hand, as low as possible, and drop to the ground. So there I was, hanging on the lowest rail, headphones on, wind blowing my robe, exposing my now light blue naked body, when my slippers fell off. The cars passing by sped up - none stopped to help, except for the one that stopped to take several photographs and the one which ran off the road about three blocks down the mountain. The police report read "Driver was distracted when she saw a large semi-naked man wearing headphones hanging bare-footed from a balcony." My bare feet were still five feet above the bushes and new fallen snow when I released my grip and fell to the ground below.

Bleeding now from several wounds, I went to the front door ---locked! I started to write a message in the snow for my beloved Beverly, but it would only melt before her return. Time for Plan Number Two. I was getting real sleepy due to the cold and because I hadn't slept for the last thirty hours because of the all night fire next door. I made my way, leaving a trail of blood in the snow for the newly reintroduced Mexican Wolves to follow, to the crawl space under the condo where I had a ladder.

Climbing back up on the balcony, I broke out the window in the door and let myself in. Not recognizing me, the dog made several threatening gestures toward my bloody legs and the cat escaped onto the balcony. Only a desperate grab of his tail kept him from leaping to momentary freedom and then certain death in the already bloody snow below.


After I stopped shivering, and wondering how to treat frost bite, I was able to call to Florida to see how my mother had done during her surgery that morning for a blocked esophagus. Later, I even went to the market for bandages and iodine. The clerk smiled and said, "Have a nice day."

copyright 1997 Gunnar Carlson, All Rights Reserved