THE CAMPSITE: With a tentpad, shelter, and electricity the
campsite had all the comforts of home, if you don't
count a indoor toilet, air conditioning and the obligatory couch.
Casa Blanca International State Park
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY
I don't know if it's true or not, but tradition says The Red Road is one of
harmony and balance. So why do I now hate Love's?
Love's is an oversized convenience
store/truckstop/tourist trap/Subway on I-35 where I pulled in for gas and heartburn.
At $1.74 for Super Unleaded it was way overpriced which I didnt
realize until I was well into the mission. In any event, Nigel the Land Rover was near
empty so my options were limited to the extreme.
getting gouged for gas I went into the Subway sandwich shop in the same building. The
young feller behind the counter looked bright enough at first glance, but he was slower
than a two-legged turtle. In an effort to move things along I ordered a simple "Ham
sub. With lettuce, tomato and Mayo."
Now they sell these subs by the foot or half-foot
length. I asked for their 6-inch size. So there he was, with that 12-inch roll and a
cutting knife, carefully trying to size up exactly where the middle of the thing might be
(or maybe the middle just kept moving on him, I don't know).
When he started sawing through the roll he was off by
an inch or more. I pondered asking for the other 6-inch piece but the line of
customers was piling up behind me.
"What kind of meat did you want on that?"
"Ham." I reminded him. "With
lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise." He slowly folds out wafer-thin slices of ham on the
most pitiful squirt of Mayo Id seen in my life. Then he takes a side-step to the
right, standing in front of the sliced veggie bins, and looks at me all empty in the eyes.
Lettuce. I reminded him.
I knew by now this boy was slow inside
and out, so I waited. He takes another
side-step to the right and looks at me like maybe I was going to reveal the secret of the
Universe -- I was tempted to take his pulse. Tomato
I say. He diligently lays on three slices of
tomato so thin they barely had two sides. Then
he looks at me again.
Wrap 'er up, I said, you've
wrestled this one to the ground. I must
admit he wrapped up that sub sandwich double quick which made me think his real skill was
rolling stuff up in paper.
Sandwich in hand I charged back
on the Interstate for Lake Casa Blanca International State Park.
I had no trouble finding the park, and at $45 for
three nights -- with electricity to boot -- I started feeling better about the Universe's
notion of balance. Then, I reckon the Universe decided adjust things a mite so I
drove around in the park's maze of roads looking for my campsite. After sucking out some
of that liquid gold from Nigel the Land Rover the quest was over. Sorta.
Even though it was Sunday the park was crowded to the
extreme, so after surveying the situation I drove back to the headquarters and moved my
reservation further up the hill and away from folks.
Settling in, I opened up the back door of Nigel the
Land Rover, ran an extension from the outlet, plugged in my laptop and wrote the little
narrative on Subway. The view of sunset was incredible so I took a picture out the
Okay, so the picture is not so incredible (maybe it
was the Longneck). Being lazy, I'm the
worst kind of procrastinator, so naturally I didn't set up the tent till three in the
morning. I wouldn't have bothered then if the mosquitoes hadn't decided I was their
own private blood bank.
I brought two tents with me, just in case
one of them was a little on the destroyed side. Neither one of them had seen
daylight for over a decade. Trying to decide whether to set up the small dome tent
instead of the larger one was a decision that made itself. Smaller ones are easier
to set up and, of the two, it appeared to be newer.
I was double lucky 'cause I had a functioning
tent and enough moonlight to work by. In no time at all I was settling in, but
without the mosquitoes buzzing in my ears all I could hear was the infernal wind-up alarm
clock tick-tick-ticking. Just over three hours later it rang so loud they probably
heard it in Mexico.
The Crime Stoppers Convention I was covering as a
photographer was only seven miles away. Off at five, I cruised back to the campsite
in 105 degree weather. I took a dip in the lake, which was probably about body
temperature, and back out again. With a stiff breeze blowing off of the lake I was
Returning to my encampment I was still struggling
with the heat so I soaked my shirt in water, twirled it around in the air and put it on.
Instant air conditioning. Popping the top on a Tall Boy I crawled back in
Nigel the Land Rover to admire the view.
Everyone had vacated the premises so I had a huge
portion of the place to
myself. I was just beginning to feel right smug about my situation when the flies
started to congregate. Evidently with thousand or so folks gone there was nothing
left for all them flies but me and my stuff. Seems the Universe is always tampering
with this balance thing.
PAGE 1: HEADIN' OUT / PAGE 2: HWY 97
PAGE 3: THE CAMPSITE / PAGE 4: LAREDO / MAP
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