Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mosquito and Southern Drawl Territory

Nate was up early. I mean like 6am early. Which is way too early. Not only that, but he had his heart set on climbing. At 6am early.

He gets me up by snapping pictures of sleepy me in the tent. Why? I donno. He’s relentless though.

After a quick bouldering session, I’m still rubbing the sleep from my eyes. We pack our car and say goodbye to Priest Draw. I start off in the driver’s seat, Indigo girls on the car stereo. I’m singing my heart out. Nate promptly falls asleep.

Arizona turns into New Mexico. Something’s different though. Deep dark clouds are rushing our way. We could see the clouds melting into sheets of rain to our right, left and front. The blue skies slink away behind us. I’m nervous about driving through the seemingly neverending rainfest. The first drops appear on the windshield. “Here it comes!” I announce to no one in particular, hoping to pump myself up. The windshield is quickly covered with gigantic splotches of rain. I slow way down. I can barely see the cars in front of me. The cars behind me disappear behind a veil of opaque gray. Somehow I manage to stay within the painted lines. This is what they mean by monsoon season.

But it doesn’t last too long. Soon the rain lets up. At the next gas stop, Nate and I swap seats. The rain is still coming down on the sides of us. After another quick downpour, the road twists toward an opening in the clouds. Whew. The red plateaus emerge from the clouds and I decide that New Mexico is a good place after all.

But as soon as I make this realization, the tourist trap teepees and thunder storm clouds pass and we are in Texas. I’m still in my ridiculous getup: patterned turquoise tanktop, dirty black leggings, and silver shorts. The girls at the gas station flash me “the look” as I breeze past. Whatever. I’m just happy that gas has dipped below $4 a gallon!

The friendly man at the 3rd gas station of the day unintentionally informed me that we had crossed two time zones, losing two hours. Gotta hurry along to the state park before they close the gates! But gotta slow down 5mph at night. Hmmm… let’s just get moving!

At the gate we make small talk with the ranger, pick a campsite that promises shade, and get really excited about lighted (and heated) bathrooms with showers! It has been DAYS since we’ve showered and we need it. Badly.

Our Honda hugged the hideous downward spiraling roads. Pulled into the campsite. We decide that Nate will set up the tent while I boil the pasta and then we’ll reconvene for showerseeking and bedtime! Go team, GO!

STOP! Mosquitos everywhere! Everywhere!! I jump back into the car with a few pesky bugs at my heals. I cower in the car for a while until I can collect my wits. I pull on jeans over my leggings and shorts. Sneakers instead of flipflops. Longsleaved underarmor. Oh, what the heck, throw on a jacket also! I’m like a kid bundled for the winter, but the nighttime Texas weather is warm and muggy.

Pull the stove out. Soon the water is boiling. The mosquitos seek out exposed skin. One finds its way under my jacket, others go for my fingers and ears. I wimper and sweat, which attracts more mosquitos, which makes me sweat more, which attracts more mosquitos. It’s miserable.

We scoop mosquitos out of the boiling water and dump the pasta in. We can only hope that holding a plate over the pan will deter more from boiling alive. 3 minute pasta is wonderful for camping trips. We gulp down our pasta, trying not to think about the extra protein we were probably getting from this meal.

The bathrooms/showers end up being a hefty trek from the campsite. But we sigh with relief, finally we can cleanse ourselves and escape the net of mosquitos! But our joy was shortlived. In the women’s bathroom, there were bugs everywhere. Not just the expected moths swarming around the fluorescent lights, but roaches. I reluctantly take a shower, dodging roaches who scamper around my feet and scale the wall near my head. I hope that Nate’s experience is better than mine.

But in fact it was worse. I meet him in the men’s side. One of the showers, apparently, is out of commission because someone thought it would be a great idea to use it as a bathroom. How do we know? Because it was still there.

Feeling slightly more disgusting AFTER the shower, Nate and I return to the campsite and throw ourselves into the tent. We settle in. Whew, surprisingly we hadn’t let any bugs into the tent with us… Or had we?

The high pitched squeal of the mosquito is unmistakable. And it was in our tent. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if there was a bloodsucking insect buzzzzzzing in my ear. Its sound alone makes me recoil in a mixture of terror, apprehension, and anger. We finally found it, with help from our headlamps, and disposed of it. It’ll be better in the morning, I kept saying to myself. It’ll be so much better.

And it was. After we finally got to sleep. Our campsite neighbor was a family with at least three young boys. At midnight one of the boys announced that he needed to visit the facilities. The mother was in serious denial. “Are you kidding me? Now?! Are you kidding?” Hmmm… it’s not something that you’d kid about. The mother just didn’t want to believe it; it was an inconvenience. That poor child was guilted for having to go to the bathroom.

The next morning, the neighbor family was up super early. And, by default, so were we. The bugs ate breakfast with us. There were so many bugs, I decided to imitate them. I thought I’d fit in more.

Took some pictures from the viewpoint.

In Texas, the cops are everywhere. But they don’t bother us because we get better millage going the speed limit. We didn’t even notice when we’d crossed the boarder into Oklahoma. We didn’t see a single cop anywhere in the whole state which, after Texas and its billboards announcing their roaming presence, was quite the pleasant surprise. Even though I don’t bring the car even one mph over the speed limit, police still make me nervous.

Oklahoma slid into Arkansas. We passed in and out of small towns until we reached the one we wanted. Fayetteville (with the slight accent on the Fay, not the ette like I’ve been saying it). We tug the car around the twisty roads and almost miss Brian’s driveway.

When we open the door, we are smacked in the face with the Arkansas humidiy. It’s like walking into a brick wall, and you’re sweating. Brian invites us in for some sweet tea. That night after a falafel dinner and a hefty downpour, I stumble off to bed to the sounds of Nate and Brian getting psyched over climbing videos. I think I’ll pop in these here ear plugs and then I won’t hear a single thing. Whoops, look at that, I’m fast asleep.

No comments: