"Trust me! You'll love it!" he said in with his sleazy used car salesman smile.
This time was better, I must admit. They have done extensive work to the lake. (Did you know there is only one naturally occurring lake in this whole dang state? And we have to share that one with Louisiana.) They dug out tons of cattails and weeds. There are new bridges and a nine whole golf course (kind of) on the edge of the lake. There is a fancy shmancy amphitheatre and lots of improvements to the marina.
Jackson assembles his fishing paraphernalia.
The campsites are still way to damn close together and there are too damn many people there, but I was prepared to change my mind and have a good time. We set up the tent and Jackson got his fishing gear together. He wandered off to fish and I sat in the shade with my book and my camera. Just across the road, right next to the lake, what a mini-stage. The Big Flat Firefighters Association had booked it for the day. Bands played all afternoon while they cooked bbq, drank beer and admired each other's impossibly clean motorcycles. The bands were progressively better as the afternoon wore on and I was having a good time.
Then, of course, I had to answer the call of nature. No worries, there was a restroom within easy walking distance. I headed that way and went through to door to find NOTHING but a huge pile of sledge-hammered porcelain in the middle of the floor. I went back outside and checked the teeny tiny sign that said "Restrooms Closed for Remodeling". In June. How is that a good idea? Why couldn't they have done this in January? But nooooo. Instead, they have demolished the restrooms (probably with the help of some of those juvenile delinquents!) and put a row of port-a-pottys out front.
I have never used a port-a-potty in my. entire. life. I admit it - I am a restroom snob. There are just some things I will. not. do. I would totally rather go out behind a bush somewhere than in one of those plastic poo pods. In fact, I decide that the bush option would be much more preferable at that point in time, but given that the place is freakin' crawling with people, I couldn't do that either.
In the end, I drove to the Marina and made use of their not very much nicer restroom facilities. When I got back, I tramped over to Jackson's fishing spot and enlightened him as to the irony of the whole situation. I may have used phrases such as "kick your ass" and "never again". I don't remember for sure.
I went back to the shady spot and cracked my book and a new bottle of water. The new band that was playing for the drunken firefighters was really good, so I stopped seething.
He continued to fish. At less than 20 miles an hour.
After about an hour, the band stopped in mid-verse. They were playing "Last Dance With Mary Jane" which is one of my all time favorite Tom Petty songs. The lead singer made the following announcement: "Uh, y'all...they just told us there is a big ass storm headed right this way. There's lots of lighting and hail and 70 mile an hour winds. If you're camping out here, you better batten down the hatches. Can anybody come up here and help us pack up this sound equipment? Quick!?"
I looked towards the south and sure enough, heavy dark clouds were rolling in fast. Crap. I met up with Jackson and we proceeded to pack everything away inside the truck or the tent. All the while we debated whether or not to stick it out or go ahead and leave. The rain had started, so we decided it was too late to leave, and we huddled in the tent.
It would have been fun.
Except that no tent, unless maybe it's army surplus, is made to withstand 70 mile an hour winds. We ended up packing our crap in the fastest campsite tear-down on record, in the driving, pouring rain and getting the hell out. We were soaked. Through and through.
We stopped at the marina to check out the weather on their TV. Turns out the storm we were sitting through was headed east and there was an even worse storm about to whack Fake Cow County. We sat around for a while until our storm passed. Then we headed north, planning to stop at the Acuff Steak House for dinner. If you've never eaten there, you have missed out on another Real Life Redneck Experience. Suffice it to say we figured they would never bat an eyelash at us in our completely dishevelled state.
When we got there, they were closed. I forgot they rolled up the sidewalks at 6:30 p.m. there. Everyone else waits until at least 8:00. We headed on up Farm To Market Road 400 to Idalou. We thought we could probably get a meal at what used to be the "Crossroads Restaurant". This week is was Miguel's House of Something or Other. They do wait until 8:00 to roll up the sidewalks in Idalou, but evidently Miguel had big plans for the evening, 'cause his sidewalks were stowed by 7:30. In the end we grabbed a Country Basket at the Idalou Dairy Queen.
Small town Dairy Queens are always prime people watching territory. This one was no exception.
We finally made it home about 10:00 p.m. It rained on us, and all our gear, all the way back from Idalou. The storm we were trailing left water knee deep on both sides of the road. Our ditches were rolling with whitecaps.
I really hate that lake.
But this is what made it all worthwhile? This!?