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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.

Campin' Out
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 didn’t 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.


After 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 I’d 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 back.
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       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 suddenly cold.
       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 theTurnA.jpg (4971 bytes) 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


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