The Red Creek
Who would have ever stopped and thought that Red Creek Road was home to an actual red creek? Well, maybe everyone else would have cracked that code but I lived on that road my entire life, in fact, I was born on it (not the actual road, that would be unfortunate) but in a house located on the road and I never knew of any creek. That is, until the day I encountered the thing. My best friend Kait and I had been neighbors our whole lives on Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays. We were fairly sheltered children, spending most our days frolicking around the backyard on stick horses rather than concerning ourselves with the history of our street. We knew enough to know that Red Creek Park is not located on Red Creek Road, it’s close but not quite there, this can be misleading to those who do not know the area, so if you didn’t know that, you’re welcome. Anyway, that was about where our knowledge of the area ended. We didn’t know how long the road had been around for (it was actually settled in the 1700s after the Revolutionary War… I looked it up). We didn’t even know that Squiretown Road turned into Red Creek Road at a certain point. And, of course, seeing as we didn’t know about the creek, we certainly didn’t know why it was red. It apparently has something to do with the high iron content that exists in the water out here. However, back in the day when Kait and I were just a couple of twelve year olds, we had to rely on her sister Kammy for information. She was twenty-five when we were twelve and she knew basically everything about everything. So, one day Kammy suggested that we all go to the red creek to explore. Kait and I were baffled, exchanging confused glances and asking in synchrony, “there’s really a creek?” We were then made fun of because apparently everyone had the sense to realize where the street’s name came from, but once the embarrassment passed, we set out for our hike to the mysterious Red Creek on Red Creek Road. So, there we were, a couple of naïve tweens, Kammy, and Kammy’s three year old son, Evan. We drove down the winding road in the direction of Riverhead. Apparently the creek was located all the way toward the end of Red Creek Road just before reaching Route 24. This happens to be one of our most highwayest highways in the Hamptons area. If you haven’t noticed by now, we are morally opposed to highways out here. It is actually because we didn’t want people from the city and wherever else to be able to easily access the Hamptons, thinking that a lack of highways would keep them away—needless to say it didn’t work (I’m sure you’ve seen the traffic). Anyway, we pulled up to the side of the woods that Kammy knew the creek laid behind. We trekked our way into the thick wooded area that we actually did know Hampton Bays to be. We spent most of our days outside so we knew enough to expect large trees, sticks, leaves, maybe some deer, and of course bugs. There were mosquitoes galore as soon as we made our way into the brush and it was obvious that we would have to do a tick checking upon returning home, but we were going to see the creek so it had to be worth it. Little did we know that we were actually looking right at the creek shortly after entering the woods. I must say, there was nothing too significant about it (not yet anyway). It was a small, muddy pit with a tiny red tinge (from the iron) that I guess was just enough to make it into the creek’s title. It traveled through the woods a ways in all it’s mucky glory, but I wasn’t impressed. At one point the trees, branches and leaves that made up the woods turned into tall, itchy grass that reached hip height. All four of us were extremely uncomfortable, swatting at bugs and constantly raking our fingernails on our legs in an attempt to stop the itching. It was a situation that not even the largest can of bug spray could solve. So, we were ready to turn back for the road—Red Creek Road—after about fifteen minutes of exploring. The itchiness of the grass was unbearable, so Kait and I had a brilliant idea to thwart it. We were going to take our shoes off and walk in the creek back toward the road. We went over to it and stared down at the murky, brown mud with the slightest red tint. It looked like it would feel good beneath our feet, but luckily we had the sense to question what was beneath the mud. “One of us should test it out first,” I announced, as we stood looking down at the insignificant “body of water” that no one should have ever made fun of us for not knowing about. “Okay, I will,” Kait responded as she reached down to remove her flip flop. Kammy stood a few feet away not knowing what we were plotting. She was distracted by Evan climbing all over her back, since the itchy grass was swallowing up his little three-year-old self. Now, flip flopless, Kait was ready for the plunge, reaching her leg out to the muddiness, holding onto my arm to keep her balance. And, this is what happened next: as soon as her foot made contact with the creek, it was like a vortex into the Earth. She sank all the way down to her hip, grabbing at my arm and screaming. “Shay! It got me! Help!” She had hold of my arm so tight and I felt myself about to be sucked into the quick sand formerly known as red creek. She was sinking lower by the second. I grabbed a small twig like tree that was sticking out of the ground next to me. I used it as leverage to yank her out of the creek. It was a tug of war between little blond twelve year old and deceiving alien-like mud. We each yanked at Kaitlin Kelly (she had quite a look of terror on her face) for several moments until finally my side prevailed. She came forcefully out of the creek back to the itchy grassland that we were both now happy to be on. Kammy was yelling, “what are you guys doing?!” with little Evan hanging from her back. Kait, out of breath and recently having escaped death yelled back, “I almost died!” “Oh, you did not,” replied Kammy. It was only when we reached the street that Kammy learned that Kait did in fact almost die and that I became a hero all at the young age of twelve. All before noon. We were ecstatic to be back on the road. We climbed into Kammy’s car, Kait getting mud allover the interior, her flip-flop in hand, and we went on and on about the adventure. On the short drive home, around the curvy bends of Red Creek Road we saw our beloved bay with the dock that goes out into the water. We knew we would be appreciating our walks and picnics to the dock even more now that we knew the risk of being sucked into the Earth was a possibility on Red Creek Road. We passed the tiny, ancient cemetery that no one had been buried in for at least one hundred and fifty years, but thought a tombstone or two could have been created for Kait and I that day. I later checked out that cemetery and saw that there is actually a head stone that says “was drowned” at the bottom. Irony. It was safe to say that after that encounter we stuck to our sheltered lives of fort building and whiffle ball playing. It had become apparent that no good could come from these such adventures. It has now been another twelve years since the incident occurred and I have not returned to the creek—nor do I intend to. We love you Red Creek Road, but it was probably best when we didn’t actually know that you had a creek. If you dare to brave the creek, I suggest bringing: adequate mosquito netting, a grappling hook, and of course, a strong twelve year old girl. But really, that death trap should’ve been kept a secret.