Joined: Jul 2007
Now I was in a hurry, more or less desperate to get out of the remainder of my riding gear, but I had an errand to run first. Out comes the tent, hung up to dry the dew from the morning, the thing was just plain wet. The campsite was still in sunshine from the low sun, both the tent and rain fly were dry in minutes, none too soon for another visitor, a red spotted I think, ain’t an expert on these matters.
Set up the tent, got some gear squared away, and I was off to the marina for fuel, wasn’t sure about the fuel situation for the morning run and wanted to start with a full tank, plus the marina had unadulterated regular…I wanted to give the rat a little treat. A short distance to the fuel pumps, it was late and I think the old gal running the store would have preferred to stay closed. I was wholly draped in my most woebegone persona, a faux magnet for pity, weary slumped shoulders…and a convincing limp. I heard a click, the display was reset, hey, had that ol’ mojo workin’, and bingo, I was fueled, extra squirt for the rat.
Now that the errand was in the books, there was some time for rock gazing, an esoteric mentalist game just needing a slight nudge to become a new national pastime. My subjects were still there, hadn’t moved, or if they had I couldn’t tell.
My new friends weren’t at the kiosk when I rode by, back at camp, and I remembered that this location happened to be one with an abrupt sunset, not unlike western coasts on the Pacific, sun one minute, orange haze the next. I would have mentioned Key West in this context, but every time I connected Key West and sunset, I tended to get that queasy hangover feeling. No ocean here, the sunset was robbed by the same ridge defining the border, ain’t fair, move that thing.
Now all the gear was off, I wasn’t riding another inch, junk spread all over, enough for a pack of gypsies.
Whipped together something to eat, sun lower, boats and jetskis out on the lake whizzing around. Those bassboats must be piloted by the ADD afflicted, never stopped long in one place, lines out, lines in, and they’re off to the next fishing hotspot at 75MPH. I thought about a swim, naw, could get run over out there, besides, I’d had enough exercise for today and planned another leisure activity involving bourbon.
Dickie, the campground manager came by in his golf cart to say hello, and I found that a big thunderstorm had rolled through two days earlier, the reason for all the branches down on the PR55 road. Ol’ Dickie was the salt of the earth, a West Virginian, possibly the survivor of some bad habits along the way, friendly, but risky business if you were intemperate enough to get him riled. He was mountain smart, a joy to talk with given the opportunity, and by the time he finally had to leave, we had solved many problems. Ya see, Dickie had that mountain holler born and bred common sense, maybe expressed in his own vernacular, but insightful, and becoming rarer with each passing day. The campground had been slowly filling up, and he expected to be full tonight, “fools” was the word he used.
As if on a choreographed start, a Battle of the Bands cranked up, entertainment for only those at hand, water boarding for the rest. I think it was music, but no human beings had singing voices like that, call PITA, someone put a dozen barn cats and a pit bull in a rotating redi-mix drum, added guitar tracks and a heavy syncopated back beat, recorded a CD. The music was criminal, the volume insane, doggone, where’s Dickie?
Thinkin’ I’d like to go up there, grab that boombox, donate it to the local rifle range for when they run outta paper targets. I’d made up my mind to do something about it when the music stopped like the power cord had been cut with an axe, instantly no more sound, somebody done beat me to it, a lucky grunge rock camper just dodged being killed with an ice pick.
Dusk approaching, and a new pickup pulled up two doors down the row, packed with junk to overflowing, kayaks, bicycles, chairs, coolers, everything in triplicate, and a load of firewood. The activity was furious, a young couple with their six year old daughter, camping for the weekend, determined to get set up and organized while still light.
Huge tent enthusiastically erected, the little girl inspecting everything, skipping around, mom getting dinner ready, dad about to light the campfire…and that’s when a pickup pulling a 30’ travel trailer pulled up and stopped directly in front of their campsite. An animated discussion was taking place, I wasn’t a freakin’ genius, didn’t take one to figure this out…that unoccupied kiosk, hmmmm.
They both left to find Dickie, no fist fight quite yet, and when they came back, the camper man started packing up before he even spoke to his wife, yup, the guy with the trailer had reserved that site, the only one big enough to fit a thirty footer. I walked over, no reserved sign on the number post, asked if they needed a hand, and together with a bunch of other campers who showed up via the grapevine, the family was moved lock, stock, and barrel one campsite west. Took ten minutes, including firewood, the little girl puzzled by the commotion, soon everyone was smiling, on vacation again.
Sun hung low in the west, suspended, then dipped behind the ridge, the mountain outlined for a minute, and it was dark. I was sitting at the picnic table, writing in the journal by headlamp, drinking cheap bourbon, it wasn’t Pappy Van Winkle, but would do. Scribbling my notes, tired, I needed to get enough down on paper to recall certain events, the ingredients and flavors of the day’s adventure. Finally fumbled into the tent, stretched out, near comatose, faint sounds of the southern night, I was done.
(to be continued…)