Ben and I took a trip to Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah, Texas. Even though there was no rain in the forecast, it started thundering and raining just after we got camp set up.
We were going to get to feed the official state longhorn herd at 2:00 P.M., but that didn’t happen because of the rain, so we went back to camp to wait out the storm under the wooden teepee that covered our picnic table.
While we were waiting, our neighbors showed up and began setting up camp. Two of the three guys were normal looking, but the third looked like Charles Manson and had a strong, pirate-like English accent. We learned from their very loud conversation that his name was Crazy Spider, but his friends just call him Spider.
Since we were stuck under the teepee, we were entertained by our neighbors, who were apparently making videos for Facebook or YouTube. The first was an invitation to all ladies in the park to go night fishing and skinny dipping; dudes were not invited. The second video was on the tastiness of bait shrimp and all of the ways to eat them (according to Spider, they are best with chicken flavored ramen noodles).
When the rain slacked, Ben and I went hiking and fishing for a few hours. When we got back, Spider’s friends had left him at camp with his extra-large bottle of whiskey which, I forgot to mention, he was holding when they first arrived. Spider dealt with his friend’s desertion by drinking, listening to a gospel station turned up so loud that his speakers were cracking, and putting a weekend’s worth of fire wood on their campfire, which he was now dancing around while mumbling to himself.
After a while, Spider got loud. One minute he was yelling curse words at anyone who drove by, and the next, he was inviting people to come to Jesus. “If you can hear my voice, please come. Spider will pray for you. Please come.”
Ben and I decided not to go to the campfire ministry, but we did consider changing campsites. Our neighbors on the other side offered to help us since Spider’s gospel call was reaching the very outer boundaries of the camp ground. We got everything packed in the pickup, but just as we were about to carry the still set up tent to the only vacant campsite, another family pulled in and started to unload. Ben insisted that I go offer them to trade, but I didn’t think that would be a good deal for them.
We put the tent down on the other side of our pickup from Spider’s camp. His friends soon came back and yelled at him for burning all the wood, to which he yelled back that it was his wood and he could do whatever the **** he wanted to with it.
Had I been alone, all of this would have been funny. At worst, I would have told Spider to shut it. But since I was with my seven-year old boy, I suggested that it might be better to go home than stay next to a crazy man who didn’t even bring a tent and would probably be wandering around all night. Ben thought this was a bad idea; he wanted to go fishing while it was still dark the next morning. Ben had a good point, and since Spider’s friends had calmed him down, I thought maybe we could sleep in safety after all.
We got in our tent at about 10:00 P.M., and within 5 minutes Spider’s gospel station came back on, and we could hear his voice, but he wasn’t preaching Jesus. Ben said, “Pa, let’s go home.” I put him in the back seat, threw everything that wasn’t already packed in the pickup, and off we went. We got home at 1:15 A.M., where Ben got straight in bed without a bath.
My wife said she was sorry our camping trip was such a flop, but I don’t see it that way. I think we will both remember it a lot longer than we would have had it been a normal trip with sunny weather and normal neighbors. Still, Ben says he hopes we don’t see Crazy Spider the next time we camp.