I got up early, battened down the hatches, and rolled out of Long Beach by 7AM. Drove to the EZ Pass Service Center in Whitestone, Queens to get an EZ Pass for the rig, and then on to Brooklyn, to have a brunch visit with Jude so she could see my new home. Traffic was dreadful, as they were doing alternating lane closure road repairs just before the Meeker/Morgan exit of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The backup started out on the Long Island Expressway, and inched all the way over the Kosckiusko Bridge. It’s so weird to me, former professional driver and all, to just dumbly sit crawling along with the trucks in the traffic jam. It’s in my DNA to back off an exit, drive over the grass, the curb, whatever, to wiggle loose, and go run through the streets to another highway that was moving. But, I’m retired now. There’s no rush, really. And there’s a cellphone to say “I’ll be there in an hour, because of the traffic.” No biggie.
Had a really nice visit with Jude. Her gift to me was a Rawlings Big Stick baseball bat, with a ribbon tied on the grip. In case I have to fight off a bear, or a guy with bad intentions who comes to my door.
Sat in some more traffic on my way out of the city, and now, it was seriously raining. The weather report was stinko for most of this week, but I had plenty to do inside, and rain gear to wear for my walks. I was breathing deeply, with mixed emotions all the way north. Missing my family and friends and my place in that world, but what a relief! To have all the prep and the work DONE! To be on the road, driving onward to my next adventures.
This woolgathering ceased as my phone started to shriek those Air-Raid-siren-warning sounds. Flood warnings were being posted for the Catskills, where I was heading. I checked the weather and it seems the mountains could have possibly one to three inches of rain per hour over night. Great. And I had picked the primitive campsite right by a stony creek. I made a decision about 6PM as I was nearing New Paltz, to go and “camp” overnight in my brother’s driveway. I felt a little bit like a punk, but still, it was my first night out, and I’d have been pulling into a campsite in near dark, in the middle of God’s Rainstorm. Yeah, no. Not so much.
Next morning, it was still bucketing down, so I had a leisurely oatmeal, printed my next six month calendar, and a station guide for my new Sirius-XM radio in the cab of the rig. I portioned out the meat that I had bought at the coop, packed away my groceries into The Beast, and in general puttered around making ready to sail. Nautical metaphor 100% justified this day.
After lunch, I drove up to The Campsite, and as I pulled in the caretaker, who was out stomping around pulling downed tree branches back into the woods, looked up and glared at me. Big guy, buzz cut on top, with sides shaved to nothing—sort of a very wide Mohawk? I spoke to him out the window of the rig, to ask where he wanted me to park it, in the teeny tiny parking lot. He rolled his eyes at me! He started looking around in a very frustrated manner, as though I had nerve to be in a 26 foot rig. Finally, I suggested I pull into the campsite road, and he grunted assent, and gestured me on.
We had to go into the office for him to print my permit and fill out the registration paperwork. As he put his key into the lock, it didn’t work smoothly, and he did these big angry, gestures and the “Oh, come on!” kind of huffing and grumbling. He had to futz with the lock to get it to work, and I wondered how many times each day this exasperated pantomime went on.
Once he got settled behind his desk, I looked him in the eye, shook his hand and introduced myself. He said “Hi” but didn’t tell me his name. He did tell me that I was the only camper in the park tonight. (Cue horror movie soundtrack of your choice here). I acted nonchalant about it. He told me there were no amenities of any kind beyond the fire pits and water spigots. Check. I knew that. And no cell phone signal. Hmm… that wasn’t in the brochure, but I made a snap decision that it was “Bashert,” it was meant to be.
As he was filling in the registration forms he told me of the other couple that was supposed to be here one more night. They’d said to hell with it, and had left. “I was passing by down there on patrol, and the guy’s wife was, how can I put this? She was no kind of camper at all. She had on these sandals, that left the whole top of her foot exposed! And she was nagging at him because he couldn’t get their giant green tarp to stay up in the trees over the tent. Don’t know why anybody would bring a woman like that on a camping trip.”
Hmmm…now, I’m thinking the opening lines of banjo that the movie Deliverance used. If there was only one couple in the park, what kind of "patrolling" would be necessary in that rainstorm?
I got my registration documents, and drove right back out of the campground. He probably thought he’d scared off another one, but no. I had a plan for an early dinner in Albany with friends Jerry and Linda, and had to hustle, or I’d be late. Still raining, there would be no sitting around the campfire this night, anyway.
I spoke about this guy’s weirdness to a couple of family members on the phone, once I drove far enough away from the campsite to get a signal. To be the only camper in a campground with 24 sites, I admit I was anxious about it. If I didn’t turn up in a few days I wanted them to know where to look. Also, I was sort of anxious to put the damn phone down, turn it off for a few days. Surprising to me how addicted I am—not aware of it until I intentionally go off-lining for a little while.
I reasoned it out while driving back from dinner: I can stay locked inside my motor home. There are no hookups, so I’m untethered, if anyone/anything bothers me, I can just drive away. I have a baseball bat and a hatchet. Wishing I had the flashlight/stun-gun my nephew told me about, but in any case, I always went tent-camping with a hammer or a hatchet inside the tent.
When I pulled back into the campground, there was a guy with a motorcycle in the next site, setting up his tent in the rain. God bless! I was so very happy to see him. I slept well, with the sound of the rain on my roof. No problems at all, except the ones in my mind.