Ken and I returned from Santa Fe and found that Dad’s cold had morphed into pink eye. Even though I have a terrific photo of this that looks like a mug shot, I will spare the general populace from seeing it. A visit to Urgent Care ensued accompanied by Rita and I. Dad told the nurse that I punched him in the eye which tends to make an outside health professional skeptical of me as a care provider. Dad was prescribed an antibiotic and a medication to put inside the eye four times a day, which is challenging. I mean, think about squirting gel directly into each of your eyes. Anything coming near my eye is not to be trusted. And then, how do you know when you’ve put in enough? Now add the challenge of having parkinsons. Ah, you can see how a simple task isn’t so simple anymore. We learned that gravity helps.
The next morning, Sunday, Ken flew off to Grand Rapids for work and I visited my father before taking off on my return route East. Goodbye for now Colorado; time to hit the highway.
The drive northeast beyond the Denver airport yielded wide open spaces with small towns hosting their own fields of dreams. My goal for the first night was just over the border in Nebraska. Ogallala to be exact.
So ….a little research from the web: the name Ogallala comes from the OGALA (pronounced Oklada) Sioux Indian tribe. The translation is “to scatter one’s own. In the 2010 census, less than 5,000 people resided in Ogallala so perhaps they take the meaning to heart. In the past, this town was a stop for the pony express and the transcontinental railway. The Ogallala aquifer is one of the world’s largest and helped to form Lake McConaughy and then with the help of a dam, Lake Ogallala….which is where I camped for the night.
I grew up camping with my family. Back in the sixties, we loaded a big family tent on top of the station wagon, secured it with rope and headed off to campsites all over the U.S. However, it has been awhile. And I have gotten older. Putting up the tent was easy compared to what I remember from days of yore. What I didn’t know was there would be a wind storm. No rain, just wind. For most of the night. The tarp that keeps out potential rain kept slapping the skin of the tent-violently-and the tent walls kept expanding like inhaling and exhaling lungs. I was getting NO sleep with this membrane around me so active. So at about 1 AM, I moved what was in the car to the tent for more anchorage and curled up in the back. It wasn’t exactly comfy but it worked. I slept.
The other thing I learned in this experiment with semi-primitive camping was that dirt is involved. Did you know that a toothbrush can drop in the dirt? So can utensils. That Smoke and ash can saturate your clothing? That when you pee in the pitch dark in a field, it doesn’t always go where you intend it to? I will spare you the details. Believe me, I’m not opposed to all of this; maybe I’m out of practice? I can’t bring myself to say I’ve moved beyond primitive camping….it’s just a different reality….one that embraces dirty, messy, smelly life. The benefits, well, take a look at this:
Now this cup of coffee made from a fire I started myself, was worth it all. This is a way to start a new day.