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Issue #187, Epic Road Trip, June 9, 2018: Open Pond State Park, Alabama

June 9, 2018

I watched the sunrise here at Open Pond Recreation area this morning, taking photos of the mist swirling above the still water of the lake, watching several egrets poking about the shoreline for breakfast, craning their long elegant necks over the grasses.

Two little girls with blonde hair are riding about on scooters; various birds are whistling, and the steady drone of our air-conditioner saws away in the background. My family still sleeps. I had a crappy night; my right ear is whistling worse than ever, with impaired hearing - but I noticed it rained, so maybe that’s part of the problem. In an attempt to reduce my head-and-ear ringing, I turned the air conditioner off midway through the night, but it was so hot and muggy and I was so uncomfortable - and I imagined my family was too - that I switched it back on.

We arrived here yesterday afternoon around three, hoping for a spot with electricity and water as it was first-come-first-serve, and we scored a really great one, right next to the lake on a grassy area surrounded by tall trees. There are a few bugs - mostly little gnats but a few of the dreaded ‘yellow flies’ which bite. It hasn’t been that bad, however, and after we got the camper set up, with the awning and shower tent, I set up my easel and paper on the lawn and did a sketch of the Cricket with the lake in the background. There was already some wood in the campfire ring (plus we grabbed a few more logs) so we had our first fire of the trip, enjoying smores after Paige’s yummy meal of quinoa and beans and corn. Paige had a bit too much margarita, and ended up falling asleep before dinner even started. We continue to have spats over inconsequential little things, and Phoenix has been especially vocal about his distaste of the bugs and the need to retreat to the cool protection of the Cricket, but after dinner the kids were inspired by a boy around their age who rode up to our camp and asked if they wanted to go riding around on their bikes. They came back some time later, reporting they had done ‘donuts’ in an empty camp.

I did all of the driving from New Orleans - I was glad to leave the French Quarter RV Park since in addition to the noise of the highway, a group of gardeners made their way past every spot, with three separate guys, each with mechanical gas-powered devices used in their efforts to carefully manicure the tiny lawns on site. First came a guy on a seated lawnmower, then a guy with a weed whacker, then one with an ‘edge trimmer’, which dug out the dirt and grass in the space between the paving bricks and the vegetation.

We tried to stop at a gas station as we headed out of town, using the app command ‘find a gas station near me’ which worked well enough, but the gas station we arrived at was run down and the air-pressure self serve machine had been torn apart, the box holding the money split open by someone clearly desperate for cash. The next one we found had one in better working condition. At a random stop where I jumped out to get some coffee and to make a sandwich, the kids and Paige disappeared, returning moments later with huge barbecue sandwiches - they had noticed a roadside stop across the road and had decided it was time for lunch.

So yesterday’s drive had us passing back into Mississippi for a brief while, then into Florida for a bit, near Pensacola, then finally turning into Alabama, but right when we had almost arrived, google maps took us down the wrong road, and we had to circle around and search for the right road. We shopped at a Wal-Mart for groceries for the two nights we have at this place in Alabama. We are in the Conecuh National Forest in Southern Alabama, and it’s really quite beautiful here - we drove through Mobile, briefly, and traced a series of bridges over bays and inlets. In two days we will drop down into Florida. Today I hope to chill out a little, maybe do more art, ride around the lake.

random roadside stop
results in barbecue lunch
for paige and the kids

a nation of guns
controlled by all their people
new laws in crosshairs

dropped by the children
marshmallow now devoured
by ravenous ants

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen