Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Wilderness Of Things That Need Some Explaining Pt 2

Wednesday was a day driving of going down endless intersecting dirt roads, and at one point I was 100% sure of where I was going...and I was wrong. Jeeps are just amazing in that they seem to like going places that would have killed other vehicles I've owned. When I first bought the Jeep, I pretty much thought I would be the guy that had fun owning one, but never actually getting in a situation where I needed 4 wheel drive. My brothers made sure that was not the case, and right off the bat there was "Do you think I can make it? Hold my beer!". Then we took out the bikes and rode another trail for hours until we figured we could follow the power lines and somehow end up back near our campsite. Paul was our scout, and the crazy guy had not seen Paul before, so he rode through the area, and saw the guy yelling into his phone that he was being attacked by Jeepers and they need to get a ranger out here now! We decided to spend some more time riding around and perhaps venture back late in the day. I was suggesting that perhaps we should camp in Paul's driveway, while Steve kept pulling out his gun and seeing if there were any bullets in the clip, sort of the way I keep checking my back pocket to make sure I brought my wallet. Meanwhile, Paul is talking about how this is turning into the best trip in recent history, and we haven't even set up tents yet!

We rode until our butts wore out from the bouncing, and finally decided around 3:30 to see if the guy was ever going to leave. He was gone, but now the other sites were full. There were still embers in the campfire, and as a weird sidenote..that fire was going the whole time we were there. I'm not sure about much else with that strange guy, but he was a hell of a fire starter.

We got our stuff set up and sat around the fire discussing meals, politics...nowadays we start with "Not to be political, but...", and what kind of crazies are in these woods. I remembered that my Dad spoke of camping solo in Ocala and the large group of Rainbow people up there. About that time, I started noticing a single character walking around the 3 campsites, as if looking for something. Strange manner of dress for this place. He/it was wearing tight clothes like you might wear for skiing and a headpiece that totally had no features. It looked like a giant black sock with no holes for eyes or mouth. I was more than a little bit freaked out, but Steve said it was probably mosquito netting, while he tightened his grip on his shoulder holster. Me, I was looking for signs of some kind of giant sword or knife. After a while, he was gone and I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing. The guys did not seem worried, and Paul said what we really need is a night ride in the woods! Yeah....I don't know about that, but I had a whole different problem, because as we pulled our bikes out to ride, I realized I had a big flat tire. They rode off while I sat at the campfire, content to work on my bike, none of the worries of real life, and pretty sure that SquidGames boy wasn't coming back in the dark...or at least I wouldn't notice it if he did. 

I fixed that tire in record time, pretty good considering I was working with a flashlight and strange noises in the bushes from time to time....Guys? Is that you? No answer...but there was this glowing pink circle floating in the woods, it almost seemed as if it was slowing making it's way towards me. I quickly grabbed a bicycle tire tool in defense...not really sure if that was going to stop an alien...

Friday, February 4, 2022

The Wilderness of Things That Need Some Explaining Part 1


I sat back for a minute in my Walmart campstool and wondered just how many things could go sideways in one short trip. The three brothers in adventure were trying something totally new: Primitive camping in a state forest. Yes, there were designated sites, with a picnic table and a fire ring for campfires. Bathroom facilities? One community Port-o-let, shared by the 5 campsites. Unisex, you might ask? Well, if a woman ever ventured out in these woods, she wouldn't be the kind to stand in line for the ladies room in a bar while the mens room stood empty.

Perhaps I should concentrate on the things that went right. We all have jeeps, and great electric mountain bikes, and weather that any northerner would give their paycheck for right now. It was cold enough to wear a light jacket and sleep easy in a good sleeping bag in a tent, after enjoying a roaring campfire. The Cedar Creek Campground really seemed like a place nobody could ever find, but I did find it with google, after ignoring Siri's constant suggestion that I try the Cedar Creek Campground up in Middleberg....either Siri has a quirky sense of humor or she doesn't know that Middleberg was having some serious non-camping weather.

My first day started off awesome, with little idea of what was ahead. I was rolling down A1A, taking the scenic route with the top off, once it warmed up enough. The tide was high and the waves were big with really clean faces from the light offshore wind. I was sipping on my second cup of coffee when Steve called to let me know that he was on the way as well and soon we could meet at the entrance of the state forest. I pulled off the main highway onto a dirt gravel road, and mere seconds from civilization, I was already missing running water, electricity, and toilet paper, and I hadn't yet reached the campsite. Right off, I ran into a snag. The gate was locked with no attendant, and another guy was letting himself in...I walked over and he made the sign of the cross and said I needed my own code...he drove off before I could even reach Paul on the phone and figure out what the deal was all handled on the internet and somehow he didn't check his email or something and eventually we got a code. Once in, I was driving down two ruts with grass growing what was back here that needed us locked out?

About thirty minutes later, Steve and I met up and found our campsite. The only problem was that somebody was in it. We found a empty site and sat down to soak in the peace and quiet until it was our turn to set up.  It was surprising that so far from anywhere that only one site out of four was unoccupied on a weekday morning..who are these strange people that want nothing but to park somewhere in the woods? That was a question I probably should have asked before now because, a tall, lean man that looked to be in his fifties, came stomping out of site 4, heading towards Steve saying "What are you looking? Why are you looking at me?" I had visions of characters from the movie "Trainspotting". He was as angry as any drunk I've ever seen in a bar, right before a fight. As he strode towards my brother, his hands were clawing at his flannel shirt as if his muscles could no longer be contained within the fabric.  Steve stood his ground calmly, trying to de-escalate the situation, saying soothing things like "No worries, we were just trying to figure out which campsite is the one we are supposed to get". My mind was racing, either the guy had a knife in his waistband and would get Steve before I can even make out the words, or Steve karate's the guy into the hospital, or worse..guns come out. At the minimum, I'm thinking the rest of the week will be spent in the Sheriff's office while they grill us one at a time for our stories. "Yes sir, I would like a cup of coffee with cream...and I'll take one of those cigarettes too, just in case I need something to barter with in the big house".

We decided to drive off and figure a new gameplan. Steve had his gun out, showing me his new clip that holds 30 rounds...I marvel at it while wondering if I would still keep firing at a zombie, or meth-crazed lunatic if the first 8 shots didn't do the job. I was thinking, game-over, dude! Even if we could trust the guy would leave when he was supposed could we be sure that he wouldn't come back at night and do the Easy Rider on us? Steve is discussing shifts, taking turns on guard duty, making sure that each us of had a loaded gun and were ready to take on the enemy...I was thinking how unprepared I was for this and a little bit worried about how prepared Steve was.

Finally Paul showed up and we shared the story with him. Far from thinking we might need to camp somewhere else, his eyes got a little twinkle and he said This trip just got interesting...."