Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#50 - Tuesday, 18 April 2017 - Seminole Canyon S.P.H.S. - near Comstock, Texas

A fascinating aspect of this life on the road is the people. It will surprise few of my readers that I far prefer wildlife, but I am intrigued by my fellow travelers and their stories. I enjoy the brief and random encounters I have with people. The very transience of these interactions is part of their charm. “Where ya from?” is a common beginning, but there are plenty of conversation starters. A tall, heavily tattooed guy with a parrot on his shoulder or a couple of big cameras slung over one is something that people notice. Yesterday I sat with Jesse perched on me underneath the ramada that shades my picnic table and I saw a familiar expression approach. It was the female half of the husband and wife campground host team. I had spoke several times with man when I first visited Seminole Canyon State Park last week, but she and I had not met. I noticed her making the grounds on the park provided golf cart checking camping permits. She parked and walked up to me and asked about Jesse. “Is that your bird?” seemed like a rhetorical question, but many of us are awkward when strolling up to a stranger, and I’m a bit intimidating I imagine.

I had just finished setting up camp when Jesse’s visitor arrived, and afterward I sat at a table beside the public restrooms and showers, which is the most reliable location to attempt to acquire the park’s weak wifi signal. Verizon has no service here and it is my only tether to the outside world. A woman approached me to ask if she could share the table. She looked weary of the afternoon sun and said she needed a shady place to have lunch. I saw a bicyclist approaching and then noticed the orange flag of the child trailer being pulled behind the mountain bike. Then I realized that the blue trailer’s occupant was a golden retriever. You meet all sorts when you travel. And, as John Muir said, travel far enough and you meet yourself.

The bike’s rider and dog’s friend had the “business up front, party in the rear” look of a mullet, but it was the most outrageous mullet ever. From the front his hair looked short beneath his baseball cap, but in the back was a dreadlock ponytail that reached below his waist. He set his bike down to use the restroom and his golden pooch obediently sat in its trailer berth looking adorable. I later found that their tent was pitched two sites away from mine. Rasta ponytail wasn’t much of a friendly sort. I’ve rarely had someone come within fifty feet of me without a greeting, but he briefly stared at me as he lit a cigarette and then looked away.

I was tired from little sleep the last night at the RV Park in Del Rio so I mostly hung around the campsite watching birds and cleaning my Wheelhouse. The vacant site between me and Mr. Rasta Mullet was soon occupied by two Harley riders. I didn’t see this many tent campers last week, but it is pretty much a 50/50 mix now. Whereas many parks have water and electric hookups for RVs in designated loops, this park intersperses sites with electricity with those without, and all but the largest pull through sites for big motorhomes have tent pads. The two gentlemen on the hogs were sixtyish and set up two tents side by side on the pad. The older looking of the two had a Harley trike that towed a matching trailer. For motorcyclists they had a lot of gear.

That’s another intriguing aspect of this life on the road … the different ways people camp and the different rigs. You see half a million dollar motor coaches. You see hippie dudes pulling golden retrievers behind their bikes. In between are a myriad of campers and I enjoy checking out license plates to see who has traveled farther than me, and bumper stickers to see who or what my fellow travelers represent. The only other RV that was set up in this campground loop when I arrived midday yesterday was also from Illinois. The spare tire on the back of his rig is covered by the Chicago Blackhawks logo. I haven’t met the lone gentleman occupying the campsite yet, but I am dying to commiserate about the fact that after last night’s poor performance the Hawks are down three games to nil in the first playoff round. He’s a silver-bearded man who has a smaller Casita RV and has been reading beneath his ramada. His camper is as small as you can go and still have a nice privy and galley inside. Two other campsites were occupied by one couple and one lone woman who were traveling together. They had camper trailers that are basically small bedrooms on wheels with an airplane style toilet. They made their morning coffee outdoors on a propane stove and showered in the public area. Others have only a small bunk inside and the rear opens to an outdoor grill and dorm room refrigerator.

I am reminded of the scene in Fight Club (in my top 5 movies and from the book from my favorite author of transgressive fiction Chuck Palahniuk and adapted perfectly to film by my favorite director David Fincher) where Edward Norton uses the term “single serving friends” talking to the unknown man sitting beside him. Brad Pitt isn’t impressed with the clever comparison of the single serving packages of condiments and liquor bottles to the one time fleeting interactions strangers during travel.

I now return to writing this after a nice little break. As if he knew what I was blogging about, my neighboring Blackhawks fan came over to my picnic table. Mick saw me sitting outside and had noticed yesterday that I also have Illinois license plates. As he approached I asked where in Illinois he was from and he replied that he was just coming over to ask the same. We then both expressed our disgust with the Blackhawks’ dismal playoff performance. Like me, Mick was listening to last night’s game via the NHL app and WGN broadcast. By some miracle I had intermittent wifi reception and was able to listen to the game with interruption from my Wheelhouse. Mick had been walking to the restroom area to pick up signal to follow the disappointing game. He joined me at my picnic table for a cup of coffee and told me some stories from his almost two years on the road and gave me his card. This wasn’t the first time I realized that I’ve always carried business cards, but don’t have an up to date one. I’m going to change that ASAP.

Mick headed off to do some hiking and invited me to tag along, but I needed lunch and to take care of a few other things first. When we chatted it was overcast, but now the sun is out and the temperature is climbing. I’ll be hitting the trail before long…

Well, my power is now out. It may just be that my surge protector has tripped, but I’m not going outside in this downpour to check. I have A/C power in my truck and can sit in there and charge my laptop if need be. Even without electricity I still have my battery powered lights, USB chargers, water pump and backup water heater, and propane powered stove and refrigerator.

All the best, M

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