Zelda’s ridiculous driving position

I had grand plans for Sunday: I was going to get ALL the things done. Writing and email and updating files, cleaning the van, cooking for the whole week ahead. 

Funny thing, spending two solid days driving does not motivate one to get ALL the things done. It motivates one to pick things up and then set them down again, that sort of helplessly fluttery, “can’t keep track of what I was doing for more than ten seconds” mode. 

I was helped in my useless state by having it be a grey day in a mostly deserted national forest. All around me were barren trees and dead leaves. Beautiful nature, but beautiful in a bleak way. Beautiful in a “nice day for warm beverages and soup” sort of way. 

Beautiful in a dead brown debris sort of way.

But let me backtrack. I left Florida on Friday morning, not crazily early but reasonably early. I intended a long driving day, but I’d had a mostly sleepless night of anticipation. I have no idea why I was so wound up about leaving, but I was. When I was trying to fall asleep, it was as if I needed to wake up early to catch the last helicopter out of the city before the invading army arrived. Win one for the anxious brain. 

But the mindful brain got the last laugh: instead of stressing the next day, I forced myself to relax. I took my time, ate a good lunch, let Zelda enjoy the rest stops to her heart’s content. Well, almost. I’m pretty sure Z would spend forever in a rest stop if I let her. It’s got to be like an art museum for dogs. Or maybe a theme park. So many interesting smells! So much to sniff! I did eventually make her get back in the van, but first I let her check out far more of the trees than I usually do. 

Eventually, we wound up at a Cracker Barrel outside of Mobile, Alabama. I’d hoped to make it into Mississippi — Hattiesburg at the very least — but it was not to be. Still, it was the nicest parking lot I’ve ever stayed in. Quiet, dark, peaceful. 

But I noticed before I closed the blinds that the camper next to me — an old one, from 1982, as I learned the next day — had its parking lights on. I wondered whether they were leaving, then thought nothing more about it. 

Until the next morning, when George and I puzzled out how to jumpstart his camper together. We were on the verge of giving up when I pulled up a youtube video on my phone and we learned that we had it right, we just needed to be patient. I ate my breakfast sitting in Serenity’s driver’s seat with the engine on, and George’s camper finally rumbled back to life. 

I think George and I were almost equally satisfied when his camper was finally running: him, because hey, he was no longer stuck in a parking lot, and me because it is so very satisfying to be able to be helpful. Well, and also a little bit because he wasn’t a serial killer, lying about his dead battery in order to hit me over the head and murder me horribly. I never really thought he was, but… well, yeah. Anxious brain did not get the win on that one. 

So my Saturday started off well and it continued well. The driving was… driving. Not much to say about it. Sometimes I admired the scenery; sometimes I developed complicated speeches to convince people of the rightness of my political philosophies; sometimes I contemplated systems to quickly determine whether a number is prime or not; sometimes I worked on stories (although never the one I meant to be working on); sometimes I got in the zone and just drove. Around 3 or so, I started considering whether I should pay for a campground for the night or whether I should just push on for another few hours, find a parking lot, and look for a campground for the next day. As is probably obvious from the title of this post, I went for the former. 

Something about knowing I’m going to be driving 3100 miles in the next two weeks, though, makes me very reluctant to take lengthy detours. I’d been looking at an Army Corps of Engineers campground, because I like the ACOE campgrounds usually, but when it came down to it, I didn’t want to drive as far away from the highway as it would have required. Round trip, I believe it would have added 52 miles to my journey. Not a huge number, but approximately 1.67% added to my drive. (Along with the political arguments, I spent an inordinate amount of time on my drive calculating gas costs, mileage, and whether cruise control was economically prohibitive. Answer: Yes, although not if my entire drive was taking place in Mississippi and Alabama where gas prices are crazily low.) 

Anyway, all that to explain why I wound up in this national forest. I would have liked to go to the Turtle Slide Campground, because what a great name, but it was tents only, and hike-in, so I’m at the campground with electricity instead. The price is right, though — $15 for a site with water and electricity. I think it was $10 for the tent sites. I haven’t seen much of the campground — combination of a gray day and Zelda being very disinclined to go for a walk this morning — but the sites are nice and spacious, with fire pits and picnic tables. Mine has a bit of a water view.

And at night, there are no lights at all. The darkness is impressively dark. I could wish for clearer skies, because the stars might be amazing, but the darkness is kind of amazing on its own. Most campgrounds are actually not that dark, because of all the ambient people light — lights on campers, lights on bathrooms, sometimes even streetlights in the campground. Not this one. Across the water, one lone light is shining, but it doesn’t even make a dent in the blackness. It makes me look forward to getting out west and camping in the desert, so I can see the serious nighttime sky. 

And it’s good that I’m looking forward to it, because off I go. Tonight, Texas and a stop at HEB to buy some spice gum drops!