Thursday Morning, when my alarm went off at 8 a.m. ET, I rolled over in frustration. My brain couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that I was making it function after 9 10-12 hour days in a row, most of which and including Wednesday, ended around 2 am, and didn’t allow me to get home until 2:30 am. Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t have made it function, but a trip back to Kansas City was calling my name through the foggy morning’s chilly beginning. Luckily I had packed most of the necessities in the dim light of my room shortly before the sun began it’s rise in the morning. This made for a quick and easy departure.
I drank several cups of coffee and stretched my lanky body to the morning sky before 10 am arrived, beckoning to leave with a tenacity that was hard to resist. My mom being, a mom, was worried that I had not given myself the proper amount of sleep, she was probably right, but I was fueled by adrenaline and the thought of the open road, so more rest was not needed. I hugged her good bye and jumped in my car.
In the days prior to the trip I made 5 mixed CDs to keep me company. The first one was a classic rock mix. It was up beat and full of the classic hits that reminded me of 101 the FOX and the days that kick started my record collection nearly ten years ago.
There are many people that say they can’t listen to classic rock anymore, because they were tired of hearing it after all theses years. I say, some things never get old, and if you can’t listen to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Little Feat, or any of the other music that sparked a movement, then you and I shouldn’t be friends any more. So, I nearly blew my speakers jamming out to some killer classic rock tunes with the windows down, the wind blowing on my face and as the fine white line blurred by in a frenzy toward my first stop, Columbus, Ohio.
I had about 3/4 of a tank of gas, so I knew I could cruise for some time before I had to stop. I hit Maryland sometime around noon, gas was cheap enough so I stopped before I could pick up I-70 and barrel the length of the state. While my Champagne colored Lincoln was glistening in the sun and refueling, I went in to buy my typical road snacks — trail mix, beef jerky, and the energy vitamin water — Sugar salt and protein. Those three treats would be my food for the road. I don’t eat fast food, and don’t like to veer too far away from the highway while I travel.
So, with a 40 dollar gas tab, a 15 dollar food tab, and a handful of trail mix, I was back at it. It turns out, Western end Maryland is gorgeous, I saw a couple signs for Appalachian Trail heads, and kept that in mind, for a future adventure. The speed limit was 70 and I was pulling about 80 up the hills and back down the curvy mountains of Maryland into West Virginia.
The music was killing it, just as I suspected it would, but I’m sure the people I passed thought I was a mad man. As an ex drummer, I don’t play air guitar, I sometimes sing, but many would rather I didn’t.
“What do you do instead?” you ask.
Well, I beat the shit out my steering wheel and dashboard, and head bang to the tribal booms, crashes, and fills that inspired me to be a drummer in the first place. And BOY HOWDY!!! does it feel good.
I made a few more stops before pulling in to Columbus around 7:30 p.m. I looked up a campsite in a small town called Buckeye Lake. I figured I’d stop there for the night — Until I saw it. I pulled up to a convenient store with a collection of cabins and campers parked around. I immediately turned around, without even thinking about talking to anyone. I jumped back on the road and drove around the lake, hoping I could find a more primitive setting, but by 8:30 the town around the lake only got bigger, and the primitive options were unfound, so with a heavy lament weighing down my heart, I returned to the campground.
I approached the counter, frustrated, exhausted, and strung out from the road, the woman behind the counter was no more friendly than I was at the current moment — which goes to show, if you appear happy, greet the customers with a smile and enthusiasm, it could make everything that the customer went through, prior to the interaction, a hell of a lot better — so, she only made me more frustrated about having to sleep in the middle of a neighborhood chalked full of “City-Slicker-Campers.”
“How can I help you?” With a dead pan tone, a curly blob of grey hair, and a wrinkled face of stress and worry, said as she looked up at her computer that was propped on the 4 and 1/2 foot counter that acted as her prison for the night, just to the left of my head.
“I would like to rent your most primitive campsite for the night, do you have any tent friendly sites?” My voice came off weak and with a hoarse cough, mainly due to not using it all day. Taking road trips by your self can be great, but they are not for the weak of heart. Alone time can really bring about some crazy emotions. Think of The Beatles’, Happiness is a Warm Gun, but with fear, anger, happiness, disgust, and surprise. It can get pretty lonely, and without someone to talk to, it may be hard to use your voice after a long day on the road.
“Yeah we have a few available tonight? How many?”
I looked confused but answered with a chuckle “Nope.”
She wasn’t amused. She stood on her tiptoes and reached across a shelf resting at her stomach on her side of the prison cage, and placed a map of the 20 acre lot, that was smack dab in the middle of…..small town…. Buckeye Lake. I say that because the area encompassing the little patch of…… heaven….. held 2 bars, 3 mom and pop comfort food restaurants, a Kroger grocery store (the Hy-Vee of the midwest, or the Acme of the Mid Atlantic) a small strip mall home to a Hallmark, a Chinese food place, H&R Block, and one vacant spot that sat next to one of the bars, The Scooner. The other bar was actually a brewery with a restaurant attached to it, and it was across the street from the Scooner.
“You can choose from any of these lots along this fence, There is heavy tree cover but they have all been trimmed.” She said this running her finger along the picture, as if pointing out the window to the 6 empty lots that sat on top of a flat patch of grass, directly across the gravel road from the office, wasn’t easy enough.
“Where is that at in comparison to this office?” I ask condescendingly.
She pointed out the window behind me, next to the glass door I walked in, “Just right over there.”
“Ok, I’ll take……That one.” I pointed at plot 6 on the map. “How much is it,” I said as I reached for my cash in my billfold.
My jaw snapped shut and I clinched my teeth tight and then reached for my debit card. I let out a breath and a giggle. “This is an expensive camping trip, ” I say out loud as I handed her my card. Again she was unamused.
—————————————————-To be Continued.—————————————————-