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About once I year I decide that while I'm out on the road for work, I'm going to camp out instead of staying in a hotel. The weather has cooled off, so I brought our dog Brodie with me. She has to hang out in the van while I'm in some of my shops so the weather has to be cool. She's great in the car and a real chill companion. As always happens when I have this great idea to camp, I didn't make it to the campground until it was pitch-black darkness. For your camping reference, Deer Creek State Park in Southern Ohio looks easy on the map, but it's really hard to find. Setting up the tent with a flashlight dangling from a pole is an aggravating event. After I fumbled around with the tent it was time to build a fire. Brodie hates fire for some neurotic reason so I have to set up the tent first so she can get away from the demonic flames. I had kindling, dry firewood, some paper and nice wooden matches. Should have been easy, right? I started working on the fire before nine and ate my swoth* after eleven PM. It was ridiculous, but I wasn't bored. Cutting up tempeh and vegetables on a box with a cheap hunting knife I use to open boxes in the dark is a clumsy, dangerous experience. I managed to not cut any fingers off, which was awesome. I got this aluminum mesh thing to put the swoth on and it melted in the fire, causing the foil to break open and half my food to dump out on the ground. The potatoes and carrots weren't cooked all the way (how F-ing long do they have to cook for?), but it was some good eats.
(*swoth is Derek Girard speak for a bunch of food cut up and cooked in a tin-foil envelope). I only had a real thin sleeping bag and a sweatshirt, along with a small blanket that I put under the bag to pad the rocks the tent was on. I went right to sleep but woke up in the middle of the night freezing my ass off. There was no warming up, so flopping over from side to side kept me entertained. I fell back asleep but woke up to some mysterious sounds. I put all of my food in the van or in the tent, but Brodie's food was outside the tent in a plastic tub with a tight-fitting lid. There was a racoon (I assume) trying to rangle her food. I didn't want to send Brodie out for fear of her getting roughed up by a rabid coon and I sure as hell wasn't going out there, so I just let it go on. What seemed like days later I woke up to the sun shining and emerged from the tent to find Brodie's food tub about 50 feet away with the lid right next to it. So the coon must have carried it away, using its thumbs, then managed to get the lid off. The weird thing was that most of the food was still there. Brodie was stoked and I was just shaking my head at my cartoon-like life. I guess I set myself up for this shit.
We stopped to check out the Deer Creek damn and took the above pic. It was a big damned dam.
Back on the road, I'm cruising down these crazy country roads with literally no shoulder whatsoever. I'm an allergy sufferer and I sneezed. The next thing I know, we are off the road, straddling the shoulder 50/50 with the ditch trying to drag us in at 60 mph. If you've ever driven in deep snow and had the shoulder try to suck you in, where you can't steer back onto the road--it just won't go back, it was like that. This went on for what seemed like an eternity. Long enough for me to think "We are going to roll this fucker". I finally got the bus back on the road and I was pouring sweat with my heart pounding. I drive all the time and lots of sketchy stuff happens, but this was really scary. I always think something like that will happen when I'm fiddling with my Ipod or looking for my phone or the map, but a frigging sneeze almost did Brodie and I in.
I'm went way south in Ohio, right at the "tri-state" point where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia all meet. It's the hillbilly south. Broken down trailers, houses that look like they haven't been inhabited for twenty years, cars on blocks, dogs on chains, stray dogs (it just kills me to see neglected dogs), rebel flags and the most racist, un-PC of all lawn decor, the Lawn Jockey. I couldn't believe someone actually had one of those fucking things in their yard.
The road north from the sad south was even sketchier than the one that almost took us out earlier, but it was so winding, hilly and narrow that I drove at "10 & 2" the entire way. I also spotted this
. I actually turned around, found a spot to park, got my bike out and rode up to check it out. It was big enough to ride, but it had a bunch of crap in the bottom and it just didn't seem like a good idea to climb the barbed wire fence to try to ride it. Images from the movie that shares the name of this clothing company came to mind.
I got to the awesome Athens park with some time to ride before the sun went down. I let Brodie run around while I skated for a bit and she was barking at dudes and running around the park. It was funny, but I didn't want her to get hurt or cause an accident. I tied her to a tree and she was real good while I rode. There were a few skaters, a couple roller bladers (people still roller blade down south, I guess), an older kid on a Razor scooter and a couple dudes on bikes. It was real chill and a good time. This one skater looked real familiar. I've been to Athens a couple times a year since it opened so recognizing someone isn't really odd, but with this dude it was bugging me, like I knew I recognized him for a reason. We had spoken for a minute about Dinosaur Jr. because of the shirt he was wearing, so for me to ask the following wasn't too awkward: "Uh, a couple years ago, did a dude on a bike run into you in that bowl over there, making you fall really hard and hit your head in that bowl there?", I said, pointing to the location of the incident. "Yeah, that sucked". I recognized him because I almost killed him in '04 when Sean Rakos, Hatfield and I were at the park. It was horrible. He hit his head really hard and was obviously hurting. It was really both are faults and the collsion happened in a total blindspot, but I felt like a real dick for being "that guy" on a bike that takes out the skater. He was cool about it when it happened and he was still cool about it when I brought it up, but I still feel real bad about it....