Day Four – Maybe Today Satan
Today was both the summer solstice and, apparently, Naked Hiking Day. We celebrated neither. Indeed, we slept in a little after the trauma of arrival the night before, got in a little kampground mini golf (three times and it’s a “tradition” now) and made our way to the imposing National Monument right across the street.
The Park Service certainly runs a tight ship as we were directed to a lot at the base of Devils Tower to unhitch our trailer such that we could easily park closer to the trailhead. Unfortunately just as we set out to hike, the rain returned. We were hiding from the deluge under a rock outcrop in the sizable boulder field that skirts the tower when we heard a scream from up the trail. I peered out and saw a person crumpled on the path. Ran to her, helped her up, and saw that blood was pouring down her face. She had been running down the slick path (slicker because it was paved) to escape the rain and took a nasty spill. I dumped her water bottle over her face to clear the blood just as her husband arrived. They proceeded down, arm-in-arm. A short time later we heard ambulance sirens in the distance. Stitches required for certain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she were concussed. We continued our hike a bit but didn’t complete the whole loop. Completely soaked but amply impressed, our close encounter with Devils Tower was over.
So, about the CB radio I have rigged up. Once my daughter, niece, and I decided to take a roadtrip in the style of my father I knew I needed to get on the citizens band. Given his not-so-secret dream of being a long haul trucker, my dad of course partook of the 1970’s infatuation with CB radios and culture. We had one in the motorhome. My dad’s handle was “Trapper” and I, naturally, was “Little Trapper”. I definitely recall having conversations with truck drivers all along the route. Good fun before the Internet. I purchased a retro model Cobra CB for this trip and let me tell you getting it hooked up was a massive pain in the ass. I had forgotten how finicking analog radio waves can be. Ultimately — with the help of a kind gent at Summit Radio, the only remaining CB-only shop in Denver — I was able to run a cable from the radio out the back of my car, across the hitch, and up the side of the trailer where we mounted a whip antenna. It worked in our tests. Still works, in fact, though we have yet to have a conversation with anyone. Apparently even truckers these days mostly use cell phones and EMS long ago switched to different spectrum. At best we catch snippets of chatting amongst the garble and static. It’s never quite enough to make out what’s being said exactly, just fragments crackling in and out of coherence. But fun nonetheless. Makes me think about why I went through all the hassle to get the radio working in the first place. And I think I know: I’m “listening” for my dad. Not in some paranormal ghost hunter-y way, but as a kind of analog nostalgia for who he was. I squelched the grief long ago and now I just revel in the moments of joy that the full (if intermittent) signal his memory provides.
Pulled into our waypoint campsite tonight again after dark and in pouring rain. Somehow this was a lower moment than last night for our site did not have the proper electrical connection to charge the car. I slopped all around the campsite in the dark, headlamp on, creep factor high — looking for another site I could surreptitiously occupy for the night. Found one and hooked in, but not after inventing some fabulous new swear words. Lesson learned though: sometimes you share hookups with the RV next door. Which shouldn’t be a problem normally, but tonight’s hassle is my punishment for sneaking electrons to charge my car. Worth it.