Sunday, July 28, 2002

Roosters, Darkness and Drizzle at River's Edge Campground

I'm in my tent at the River's Edge Campground in Stoddard, Wis., seven miles south of LaCrosse. I've been awake, off and on, since the rooster started crowing probably an hour-and-a-half ago. Last night, we were happy to be camping twenty feet from a chicken coop, since we wanted to get an early start and expected the rooster to help us in that regard.

The rooster did his job, but we haven't done ours. Soon after he crowed, rain began pelting my tent, which lulled me back into a half-sleep dozing state. Perhaps because of the rooster, or the bizarre circumstances of being in this little tent in the rain down by the river in a strange little town for who-knows-what reason, or the pressure I'm beginning to feel to make the 300 miles back by Tuesday, or quite possibly it's the pain from four of my ten toes rubbed raw by the relentless pedaling, or the 49-cent hot dog I created for myself at the local Kwik Mart last night, or maybe it was the noise of last night at the Thirsty Turtle Bar across the tracks with too many small-town drunks on a Friday night invading my personal space with pointless conversation and loud '70s music while I was trying to write.

I had to get out of there and I came back to take a shower, but the cramped bathroom/shower facilities (his labeled "bullheads," hers labeled "catfish") at this dumpy little campground for recreational fishermen was foul-smelling and dirty. Perhaps because of all this, during my periods of sleep interrupted by the occasional cock crow and rain specks dotting the top of my tent, I had the darkest dream you can imagine which kept its continuity from doze to doze in the drizzle. I won't burden you with the actual imagery of the dream, but suffice it to say it was heavily loaded with guilt symbolism and twisted lines of communication relating to my parents, both buried down in Alabama. I swear, I couldn't stop the dreams until I sat bolt upright, at which time I reached for the Pocketmail Composer and started tapping it out.

Well, the drop-sounds on my tent are lighter now, and I think I hear George unzipping his tent flap, so we will be on our way south toward Prairie du Chien, 40 miles away.


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