So apparently there is no humor in the phrase “rustic campsite.” The thing about a rustic campsite in Texas is everything’s bigger. But anyways…
The drive through Oklahoma was pretty uneventful, although Amy drove part of the way, and so I managed to cover myself in cheetos dust and spill an entire bag of sunchips in the floor. So that was fun. Stopped at the most politically correct trading post this side of the local white supremacist meeting. Cherokee Trading Post according to the sign. They had 3 live buffalo, which they advertised for 20 miles prior to the exit. Along with authentic Cherokee moccasins, authentic Cherokee pottery, authentic Cherokee workers, and you get the picture from there, all on billboards for at least 20 miles. Closest thing I’ve seen to that are the signs for Loretta Lynn’s country kitchen between Nashville and Memphis.
So we took pictures of buffalo like good little tourist, bought some Cherokee swag, enjoyed the 40mph wind, which blows across the state of OK constantly and headed on to the canyon. Slowly, riding down a few stints of route 66 and several short detours in search of a picture of nothing, as that is what’s out there. The grain elevators were particularly nice, I had only ever seen them in overvalued black and white photographs by men I have never heard of.
Arriving at the canyon we met a very chipper thin man wearing an official looking hat, but not seeming very official at all, although that may just be the way of the world in Texas. He fondly welcomed us to “America” and sent us to a man who lives behind a little window, whose entire job description must consist of telling happy little tourists like us to pull around and come inside to meet the slowest typing old woman and creepiest looking little teenager in a park rangers uniform I have ever seen. Once granny rattlesnake had assigned us a campsite, written it on our credit card receipt and invited us to a Broadway production of the nightly performance of “Texas.” Which was tempting… until we saw the site. Now Amy has never seen The Hills Have Eyes, but I own it, and although I prefer to pretend to be the hard ass we all know and love, I have yet to get past the half way point alone. Though I have seen enough of it to know that we stayed on the movie site, might have actually been at the mouth of the mineshaft where all the “eyes” lived. Once I came to terms with the fact that we would not live through the night, I started setting up the tent while Amy started our red bean and rice dinner. We managed to fend off the attack of a pair of hungry hippies, ate dinner and long about dusk lit the lantern. This was our first mistake. Packing up from dinner started casually, organizing this and that albeit not lazily because our faces were being eaten off slowly but surely by the Texas bred gnat. When, all of a sudden, (how’s that for a third grade build up) a small single person helicopter buzzed low through our campsite, past Amy’s head and landed just off the concrete slab where the picnic table and parts of our faces sat. But, to our amazement and completely contrary to the sounds we heard a 4 inch jet-black beetle bug sat looking at us. Well I sprang into action an assumed my roll as car packing supervisor. Now we were rushing… well, after inspection of the enormous beetle bug was over. I mean, how else would we know how big it was? So I was sufficiently freaked out, and the second apache death copter beetle bug landed. We realized at this point that chances were pretty good that the nuclear glow emanating from our propane powered Coleman lantern (which is pretty awesome when not under attack by death bugs) was probably attracting them. So…. Having the degree I have, being of an inquiring nature, and knowing I would need proof of the size of these bastards, I grabbed the trusty, pink, flash equipped Samsung 8.1 mega pixel digital camera. Second mistake is about to happen. Apparently giant death beetles frown upon flash photography. I had the picture and turned my back to help grab what was left so we could find the sanctuary in the tent we were seeking when I was shaken by the high pitched eek that precedes the anti-wasp dance I was introduced to on the drive down. Yes, it was after her. I suppose the flash threw off its equilibrium and it was walking and fluttering wildly close to the ground. Well, now we’re both pretty well freaking out and threw crap in the car as fast as we can grab it, running for the tent, lantern still in hand, (yeah, lantern in hand, in the tent. I might just get dumbass camper of the year award for that one) we dove into the church of the Ozark Trail two person camping tent, still equipped with the sorriest excuse of an air mattress I’ve ever laid on. So disaster averted, right? No beetle casualties, no major loss of tissue to the gnats, and safety within the tent, all seems well right? For the most part yes, what I hadn’t counted on was the sounds that come along with sleeping in a desert canyon. It started with a scratching sound, then a footstep, then a car door creaking and slamming, then more footsteps from smaller feet, then a car drove by, then, the oddest sort of yodel, we think was a wild turkey, and so on, and on and on.
I must warn you. If you’re ever camping with someone who has -8.25 vision, and they say, “I don’t see that many ants. It will probably be ok to put the tent here,” go with your better judgment and set the tent somewhere else. And yes, ants can squeeze their way through the mesh. They are a wily little varmint. Please see the pictures for our continued varmint experiences. The rattlesnake was a real treat. I made her roll up her window as we went by…. I actually thought it might jump into the car. Adrenaline can do funny things to the brain.