Oh. Hey. Hey, there, Internet.
Look, I know it’s been a while. I’ve been busy. Really busy. But you and me, we were made for each other. Like the ocean and a slightly leaky life boat. Like a dinosaur and a tar pit. Like the working class and the Industrial Revolution.
My point is, I’m back. And I want to make things work this time. So let’s give it another go, shall we?
Of course, just because I wasn’t blogging doesn’t mean I didn’t have any mishaps, misadventures, or spend time in any generally ridiculous circumstances. In fact, that’s how I spend much of my time. Allow me to regale you with a tale of something that happened to me recently, when my friends Faye, Ann, and I decided it would be a good idea to go on a five day road/camping trip across Texas following the conclusion of finals week. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
Because nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.
Actually, aside from a roundly unhelpful park ranger and an unfortunate thunderstorm, things were going pretty well until the last night of our journey. We had spent the previous night in Galveston, and wanted to break up the long drive back to Lubbock by staying a night in a state park along the way.
Enter Mother Neff.
I checked out the website pre-departure and decided it looked like a pleasant little spot. Lots of trees, the first state park in Texas… what’s not to like?
Oh, the naiveté of youth.
Allow me to set the scene for you. We had spent the first part of the day in Galveston, walking along the beach and generally enjoying ourselves. After lunch, we set off, not realizing that the length of our drive would put us at Mother Neff just as the sun was starting to set.
We turned off the highway we had been following, a two lane asphalt affair, onto a country lane. The day was fading quickly as we sped past isolated houses and patches of forest, almost missing the tiny sign that marked the turn off for Mother Neff.
The park office was closed when we arrived, leaving us alone in the park but for one creepy white RV, from which male voices could be heard at intervals floating through the trees, which were barren and gnarled, their crooked branches blocking out what little sunlight was left as we availed ourselves of a camp site. We parked the car and got out, the wind blowing dry leaves past our feet with an evil rattle. We were going to have to set up the tent by the light of the headlights.
Looking to our left, we saw no less than three old trees with branches completely covered in strange birds. With the last rays of sunlight, we could only make out their black outlines against the sky, and remarked upon their surprising size. We couldn’t tell the species in the poor light, and so of course did the logical thing and walked over the trees to try to get a better look. The birds made no sound but for the flapping of heavy wings as they occasionally traveled from tree to tree.
As Faye and Ann stood together beneath the trees, completely absorbed in trying to tell what sort of birds these strange visitors were, I could only think to myself “This is just like The Birds. It’s all over.”
Thankfully, the birds did not attack at once, and so we had time to get our tent set up as darkness fell completely. In the distance, we heard a strange sound, like a cow in considerable distress. We brushed it off as nothing, however.
There was a charcoal grill there, which we managed to light, and then we took stock of our provisions to see what we might marshal up for dinner. It being the last night of the trip, our rations we running rather low. That is to say, all we had was some Bisquick and a bag of apple cinnamon instant oatmeal. Yummy.
Behind us, the cow sounded again. “MMOOOEARGHH!” We exchanged concerned glances, but pressed on.
Being the intrepid adventurers that we are, we were not deterred by the poor state of our provisions, and set about trying to make pancakes despite our lack of any sort of cooking fat. Unfortunately, the best we were able to produce was a gross sort of pale dough ball. So we did the logical thing and dumped the remaining batter into the pan, then threw in the oatmeal for good measure. And thus frankencake was born.
It was about this time that we heard a rustle in the underbrush, and turned to find the bright eyes of two small creatures right behind us. “Holy…” I started, but fell silent as the creatures stepped into the lamplight and were revealed to be nothing but a couple of rather sorry looking cats. Ann threw them a bit of frankencake, which they fell upon hungrily. The cow once again voiced its wretched call.
“Ok, seriously, that thing has got to be either giving birth or dying!” exclaimed Faye. “Maybe both,” I said.
Barely indistinguishable voices floated through the trees as we kept trying to cook our pitiful excuse for a giant pancake, stalked all the while by the cats and harassed by noise from the cow, which continued to come in intervals of about ten minutes. We could still hear the flapping of the mysterious birds in the trees next to us.
Thankfully for our dinner, I was able to put together some grilled cheese in the nick of time. We poured syrup on frankencake and picked at it sadly, but found in inedible and wound up tossing it to the feral cats. The night had taken on a distinctive chill and we had bundled up in layers of camping clothes, including socks under chacos and winter hats (plus, in my case, a horrible flower sweater we had found in a thrift store the previous day), so as we crawled into our tent for the night, stomachs full of frankencake, we looked as though we had recently spent some time living under a bridge. And Internet, we were scared. The weird cow, the stalking cats, the terrifying mass of birds, the gnarled trees and creepy RV had all combined to give us thoroughly bad vibes about the whole situation.
Somewhat shamefacedly, we decided to spent the night in the car, which at least had doors that could lock to protect us from the cow, and was warmer than the tent at any rate. We crawled in, swearing not to emerge until the sun rose and we could be sure we were safe.
In the car, theories ran wild about who Mother Neff could possibly be and why her state park was such a terrible place. “I bet she was a convict!” “I bet she was a murderer!” I decided to put the theories to rest by looking it up on my phone (despite all the park’s creepiness, I still had service).
“Guys, Mother Neff was just the lady who donated the original land to start the park. There’s nothing to worry abou… Uh oh.”
“It says the in 1935 three Native American graves were unearthed on park grounds.”
“We’re sleeping in an Indian burial ground?!” cried Faye.
“We’re gonna die.” said Ann.
“This is basically a horror movie.” confirmed Faye.
In the distance, we could hear the cow.
Of course, we didn’t die. We spent the rest of the night coming up with Mother Neff puns of such quality as “We are neffer coming back here!” and then fell asleep until about four in the morning when Faye set off the car alarm as she tried to sneak out to go to the bathroom.
When the sun rose, we packed up the tent and departed posthaste, not even taking time to change clothes or do anything but, in our infinite wisdom, take a couple of obnoxious pictures in front of the park sign. You know, for giggles.
And that, dear Internet, is how we wound up, at about 7:30 that morning, making an entire gas station avert their eyes from the strange homeless wanderers when we stopped to buy gas and coffee. They didn’t know what we’d been through.
See you soon, Internet!