It’s still cold here in Florida, and cold is not my friend. It makes my joints ache and before you know it I’m launching into a snivel. Nobody wants to hear that. As fulltime RVers, we tried to avoid cold-weather whenever possible. But sometimes we got stuck someplace and had to deal with. I never liked that, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t find some way to have fun.
Years ago we were staying at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, which is a combination campground, equestrian facility, and museum dedicated to horses and horse racing. It was in October and decidedly chilly, and the only reason we hadn’t headed in further south yet was because I had a couple of appointments at the VA hospital there.
Though I’m not really into the grand sport of horse racing, the museums and displays at Kentucky Horse Park were certainly interesting, and several famous retired racing horses live on the grounds, where you can visit them and learn about their multi-million dollar careers.
We had prepaid for four days and planned to leave the Horse Park on a Wednesday, well before the noon checkout time. When we arrived back at our old MCI bus conversion that Monday afternoon after running some errands, we discovered that just about every space in the park was reserved by people coming to town for the Kentucky-Alabama football game that weekend, which is apparently a big rivalry.
Several Alabama fans were parked in our section of the park, and we were no sooner out of our truck than a couple came by to ask when we would be leaving, since they had reserved that whole section. I told them that we were paid up thorough Tuesday night, and one of the fellows said we would have to move to another site because they had more friends coming in who wanted our site. He was not very polite about it.
I checked with the RV park office, where I was told their friend’s reservation did not take effect until after we had vacated the site on Wednesday at noon, and returned to tell Miss Terry we were okay to remain where we were parked. That wasn’t good enough for these football fans, who demanded we move anyway. Being a bit stubborn at times (and this being a perfect occasion for it) I told them we were perfectly comfortable right where we were until Wednesday morning.
Now, I was never a spoiled college kid, and this crowd sure seemed like an aging bunch of frat boys and sorority girls, very used to getting whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. Several held an impromptu meeting on the street right in front of our bus Tuesday afternoon, and when it became apparent we were not gong to move, they cast us nasty glances every time we looked out the window or went outside. We ignored them and went about our business, turning in early to get ready to take off the next morning.
When we were leaving a place, we usually waited until the morning rush hour was over before hitting the road somewhere between 9 and 10 a.m. Bright and early Wednesday morning, several of our football fan friends from the day before gathered outside our bedroom window to speculate (very loudly) about when we would be leaving. My first instinct was to roll over and hit the snooze button, but Miss Terry has civilized me quite a bit over the years, so I decided to go ahead and get up and get ready to go.
The minute I stepped outside, the nasty remarks started. “I wonder if this old piece of junk will even start? Maybe we’ll have to have it towed away.” “Some people just have no respect for others, do they?” “Respect? Anyone with any self-respect at all wouldn’t be seen in a piece of crap like this.” and such nonsense. It was a chilly morning, and several of these jerks followed me around the bus making rude remarks as I unhooked the water and electric, turned off our propane tank, and made ready to leave.
I ignored them, but in my head a plan was forming. If you have never been around an old two-stroke Detroit diesel engine when they start up, especially on a cold morning, you have no idea how much thick blue smoke they can put out. For the first ten or fifteen seconds, your typical Detroit can kill every mosquito in an area the size of a Texas cattle ranch, and a couple of longhorns to boot! Conscientious bus owners always warn their campground neighbors about this and advise them to close their windows for a couple of minutes while they air up and leave. I usually try to be a nice guy, you all know that. But sometimes things happen and a character my shrink back home in Arizona called Bad Nick emerges.
As it turns out, Bad Nick was with us that chilly morning in Lexington. I climbed up in the bus, glanced out my rearview mirror, and that crowd of jock jerks were standing at the back of my bus, right at my exhaust pipe. (Can you see this coming?) I know I should have warned them, but by now Bad Nick was in complete control. He flipped on the master switch, hit the start button, and that trusty old Detroit diesel rumbled to life with a roar, belching out a huge cloud of smoke.
Instantly our unfriendly neighbors were engulfed in a thick blue cloud of smoke, and before long, shadowy figures began stumbling out, coughing and choking. Guys, if you were ever in the military and had to experience a tear gas training tent, you have some idea of the sight that beheld me that morning. Bad Nick gave an evil chuckle, shifted the bus into drive, and pulled out of the campsite, having made his contribution to American football traditions.
Thought For The Day – Never marry a woman who was captain of the debate team.