We made it to Florida!
Along the way I discovered:
1. McDonald’s doesn’t taste as good as I remembered.
2. My windshield wipers need replacing.
3. All BMW owners exceed the speed limit.
4. Dooley has a bladder the size of a walnut.
5. Never camp in a state park on a weeknight.
Since we were only going as far as Charlotte the first day we left the woods about 10am. When we got to Charleston I drove Dooley up into South Hills to show him where I grew up. I showed him the old home place, where my dad’s drug store was, the high school where I played football, the little league baseball field. I also showed him my elementary school where I met the friend we are going to visit. Of all the things I showed him, I think he was most impressed by the size of the Kanawha River. I forgot he had never seen a real river before.
The next stop was in Wytheville Virginia to say a quick hello to friends of mine who owned the local KOA campground. After twenty years of camping there on my trips from Florida to West Virginia I got to know them pretty well. Unfortunately, they had sold the business and were long gone.
It was still early when we got to Charlotte. I drove to the little campground and we set up for the night. I had my beloved Clark Jungle Hammock and Dooley had his own little tent. Dooley was exhausted and turned in early. I stayed up and kept the fire going.
A little after 8pm a guy came down from a site above ours and asked if I had anything he could use to start a fire. It wasn’t hard to tell he was drunk. He said they were having a party and wanted to start a fire in a 55 gallon drum they had. I reached in the back of my truck and gave him a quarter filled can of Coleman fuel I had for my lantern. A little while later he brought the can back, thanked me, and said his brother was coming out later and he was going to bring me a new can of fuel. I wasn’t hopeful.
About 10:30pm I saw the same guy coming back down the hill. I was sitting behind the fire and apparently he didn’t see me. He reached in my truck, took the can and left. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want a confrontation with a group of drunks. I forgot to mention that this was a state park. Because state parks are cheap places to camp, it has been my experience that they sometimes attract loud, rowdy and potentially dangerous groups, especially on weeknights. Shortly thereafter, I put out the fire, locked my truck and crawled in my hammock. Around midnight I woke up to headlights glaring in my hammock. It was the police. After some shouting and scuffling, they arrested two of the people at that site and made the others leave. As they walked down past my site I was sure they were thinking I must have been the one who had called the police and they would soon return to chop me up, throw me in the 55 gallon drum and burn my remains with my own Coleman fuel. I woke Dooley up, threw our gear in the back of the truck and drove to a KOA we had passed on the way in. Fortunately, the owner of the KOA was still up and we got a nice warm, safe KOA “Cozy Cabin” for the rest of the night. Gee, my first night back in the “other world” and I am already paranoid and in fear of my life.
Today, the rest of the trip was uneventful except for some rain along the way. We are staying tonight with an old cameraman friend of mine and his lovely wife. They are big fans of the blog and asked me to mention them. So, thank you Richard and Sue.