Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Leadville drama

SO I'm working on a field project up near leadville, colorado. I decided to be a hard-ass this week and CAMP while working, rather than stay in a hotel.

Of course, in my life, if I ever want to try out a new adventure, I have an extremely strong desire to make sure it goes smoothly. of course since I'm writing about it, it never does.

Since I was camping:

1. I wanted to make sure that I got a good campsite
2. I would have everything to keep me warm and comfortable - it gets fucking cold up here
3. I wanted to make sure that I had all the shit I needed so that I would wake up on time and be able to make it to work.

I arrived here and began working on monday. During the lunch hour I thought that I could take care of #1 by getting to the campsite early. Of course, when I got to the campsite, I didn't have any cash, and I realized I left my checkbook at the field trailer where we are working. (the national forest service doesn't take debit cards, apparently).

I met the camp host there, an older guy who looked exactly like a national forest service camp host should look:

-straw sweat-stained cowboy hat
-grizzled beard
-fingernails just a bit too long
-pull-on flat-soled boots
-leather vest/flannel shirt combo
-had some weird androgynous name that reminded you of a johnny cash song
-had busted old chevy conversion van rv from the late 1970's
-sold cowboy art on the site
-was cooking bacon for lunch

he seemed nice so I shook his hand and he was all "whatcha doin' out here?" we talked briefly and then I realized I couldn't pay him.

He looked a bit pissed, but then said "well go on...git'cher money".

Of course I only had my lunch hour to pay up before I had to get back to work, I sped out of there, grabbed my checkbook from the trailer, and was on my way back when an ambulance showed up in the rearview mirror.

I was like "of course, I'm trying to get this to run smoothly, so far I can't pay up, I'm running out of time, and now I gotta pull over and let this fucking ambulance pass over....with my luck, its probably going to the same fucking campsite" I pull up to the campsite, and there is a firetruck, the sheriff, and the ambulance not only at the same camp area, but actually at the camp host's RV.

What the FUCK?!

Obviously I couldn't pay him up so I threw my tent down on site #6, paid the honor box at the campground sign, and bolted back to work.

That night I went and got groceries and who was in the pasta isle, but the fucking camp host.

now there's two ways to play this one:

1. ignore the dude, go to another part of the store, and then return and hope he didn't see you.
2. say "hey there, pardon my reach...see you later!"

so I did #1, but the guy was just hovering around the pizza-squirt and I had to get some or my smooth camping plans would have to be changed again. So I finally said "well how's it going...pardon my reach"

he talked to me for a minute, and while I was contemplating the non-refrigerated parmizan cheese, I found out that his wife had a pelvic problem. fine. fuck it. whatever dude, if she's fine, I'm gonna go back to the camp and hang out.

One thing about smooth camping, is that you don't have to deal with ANYONE, just sit there, read your book, eat camp food, drink beer.

so I pay up, get to the camp, and assume thats the end of it...

the next day I return to camp after work and the camp host is sitting in a golf cart by my camp wearing a wax-canvas duster jacket and stroking his beard like I just stole his cattle. Turns out I overpaid. so I talked him, figured out the payment, and then he mentioned his wife.

I said "yeah, how is she"
he said "she got real dehydrated, they don't know if she's gonna make it"
me: "really? shit man, you seem like a fighter, if she's like you, she'll be fine"
him: "well she has had 2 strokes"
me: "thats terrible"
him: "we've been married 46 years, and she's over at the hosiptal, I can't be there, I couldn't handle watching her die"

at this point his eyes get kinda watery, and he had those old man eyes: kinda yellow-red all the time.


we talked a little more, I engaged him, listened to him talk about how they traveled in their RV all over, from Idaho, down to arizona, through colorado, up here to the leadville area.

I said "well shit man...she'll be ok, she's in colorado now they have good doctors up here, and I'm sure she's gettin' the best care"
He said: "they might ship her to denver, if they do, I gotta go..."

the conversation finally ended, but I spent all of last night all thinking and worried about that guy and his wife. here's the thing:

he said he couldn't be with her and watch her die. Far be it from me to judge a man who has been married 46 years...I'm sure that would be the single hardest thing any one person can ever have to do in their life. but I thought, "what about her?" what if she's in that fucking hospital right now wondering where he is? wondering who will be there with her. what if she does die, will she die with no one around but fucking doctors?

which lead me to wonder what he would be thinking...and then that made me think about how much pain he must be feeling. this fucking old man in a yellow chevy van by himself. The only way he knows how to handle this situation is to just sit there and do nothing, maybe he's even delusional, maybe he's so scared he can't move, who fucking knows. I can't imagine that burden. I really fucking can't even come close to that.

I sat there while the sun went down, built a little fire, and thought about all that shit. I could see his RV through the trees and just thought to myself "He'll stay here if she's ok, if she gets transferred to denver, he'll have to leave, and if she dies...he'll also leave...if that RV just stays here all night, that means she's ok...she's not dead"

The RV was gone this morning when I woke up.


Karen said...

Oh, heartbreak.

You know this is going to be us someday, right? (Though I don't plan on dying of dehydration.)

Erik said...

dude you shoulda gotten WASTED and then ding-dong-ditched his RV. WTF, the guy was looking for some fun man! and all you did was BRING HIM DOWN!!!


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