Hippie Days – NO MOSQUITOES In The Ozarks

pict0010-2-300x220-2897381From Tennessee we head toward the Ozarks and our proposed rendezvous with the crew. We reach the legendary Mississippi River on a smaller backroad to find the bridge washed out, the ferry to replace it inoperable and the children terribly disappointed. I try the “pioneer family” excuse. “We’re on an adventure and we never know what we’ll discover,” as we retrace our steps. Not far ahead the kids see the ferry and their spirits return. Though the crossing is neither mighty nor majestic, just muddy, the Mississippi still possesses powerful magic aboard our rickety little ferry.

We climb into the Ozarks and begin looking for the closest national forest or park to set up camp. According to our road atlas there are none nearby and it’s getting late. A billboard flashes past “Camp In Comfort With Us”. Ray falls for it and turns in. The kids cheer. I balk at the ugliness and expense of a commercial campground. I lose. We pull in amidst big intrusive signs on all sides: ‘Wood $1 An Armload’, ‘Build No Open Fires’, ‘Guest Fee – $1 A Piece’ and the piece de resistance ‘NO MOSQUITOES’. Why the capital letters? Sure sounds fishy to me. I ask the manager who assures us there are no mosquitoes. We’re already in so we proceed to our designated site, at least a mile from all facilities. Since this is a one-night-stand we decide to spend our first night in the van, customized to sleep all four of us, instead of putting up the tent. While I make a quick spaghetti dinner, Ray sets up the beds: Two foam pads sit atop our single bed-sized storage area, one for me, and one pad to be placed on the floor at night for Ray and our dog Kobi. Scooter gets the backseat because he’s bigger and Nicole, the front, the cooler with a pillow on top fills the gap between the two seats. Curtains cover all the windows at night including a removable model for the windshield. Very snug. After looking at the cramped accommodations, Since there are no mosquitoes, Ray decides to sleep out under the stars on the picnic table. After dinner I clean off the table while Ray takes the kids to the bathroom. Nicole is thrilled with the real flushing toilet and the hot shower. For the first time, they’re eager to get to bed in their cool new bedroom. As darkness falls the mosquitoes descend. We sit around our ‘enclosed’ fire listening to the children fight and complain about the bugs. Scooter finally dozes off in utter exhaustion, but Nicole’s our bug freak. She continues whining and complaining about the “buggies” biting. Several applications of repellent do nothing other than get in her eyes, raising the level of her crying by several octaves and decibels. I close all the windows and she finally falls asleep in the stifling heat.

First night sleeping in the Van.

I’m exhausted and escape to the lake for a silent cry, except for the motorboats tearing up and down looking for good night-fishing holes. My idea of being a footloose carefree hippie didn’t include the enormous struggle involved in taking a young family of four along on my dream of “Being Here Now”.

I give up and drag off to bed, slipping past Ray outside on the hard picnic table slapping, spraying repellent and emitting his signature curses “Goddamnit! Fuckin mosquitoes!” that the children have sprinkled liberally through their vocabulary, and use most appropriately. Ray finally gives up and stuffs himself into the stifling van with the rest us. The last window is shut, the last piece of clothing is removed and I lie awake listening to the buzzing mosquitoes until the break of dawn.

Life and Deaf – Old College Friends

Friends – Trudy and Herb

Time for friends and family to part again. Our family is moving on to Jackson, TN to see some old college friends. The rest are going to the Ozarks. We hope to meet up with them in Eureka Springs several days hence.

Family – Barb, Ray, Nicole, Scooter, Jill, Terry

Part of our plan, while covering lots of the United States, is visiting as many old friends feasibly close to our general route. We’d originally had big plans to travel up the Eastern Seaboard as far as New York. Not only did two of my best friends from high school live up there, but some of the best and most established Auditory Oral schools for the Deaf were nearby. Knowing we were biting off more than we could chew in one summer, we decided to seek new horizons out west. The change of plans cut out many good friends. Will we ever see them again?. The last time we said good-bye to these friends, we were sure we’d see them again, but as time passes we realize many will fall by the wayside. It’s human nature.

The Pajaks will be our first stop. Embracing the concept of the Summer of Love, we adopt a hippie trait of just turning up without notice, and  justify it by never knowing how long it’s going to take to get from one place to another. If the timing is bad we give them the “Peace y’all” sign and keep moving.  We pull into town, call from a pay phone and find them home. Judy’s parents are visiting so we find a motel instead. Another wonderful first. Except for swimming in the lake we haven’t had a bath in several days. Ray jumps at the idea of a real shower and a clean bed. He’s the double Virgo in the group. Before we sold our house, an example of his cleanliness quotient was vacuuming every week because he loved to see and hear the dirt suck up into the machine.

After getting cleaned up we are invited to the country club to meet Doug as he comes off the golf course for a swim in the pool with their daughter Punky and a light dinner. Quite a divergence of our life styles has occurred in a few years time. We’ve dropped out and they’ve dropped into a life revolving around a certain social position in town that relates to job, house, club membership and financial status. They invite us to an upcoming wine-tasting party that the women have been arranging with all the embellishments of a multi-course meal and appropriate apparel. We decline. I doubt if our free-thinking attitudes and dirty blue jeans and sweatshirts would have done the trick.

We especially enjoy our last evening sitting outside with the kids setting off sparklers as our filthy clothes agitate in their matching, color-coordinated washer and dryer. When the sparklers are all gone Doug gets down and dirty with the kids rough-housing on the lawn. This is their best evening so far. Scooter and Nicole talked for years about going back to play with Punky and her daddy.