Thursday, October 5, 2017

Big Bend Camping

Big Bend Campground, Canton Lake, OK

We had reserved a space at Big Bend Campground, on Canton Lake, OK, for a week to give the granddaughters one last hoorah before starting back to school.  The RV had not been out of the shed all summer between of the extreme heat and Jean being sick much of the time.  Now was our time for a little rest and relaxation. 

We met another senior couple in the next campsite.  It’s always nice when other people are more senior than ourselves.  It makes us feel so much younger.  They were not enjoying a great start to their getaway.  They had arrived at their reserved site before the previous occupants had checked out, so decided to pull into a space on the other side of the drive to wait.  As so often happens, Plan B turned out to be more dangerous than Plan A.  Plan A gets all the preparation and thought, and Plan B, a little shorter on thought and preparation, exposes all the shoals.  He got the trailer into a tree limb that tore a large hole in his rolled awning, doing hundreds of dollars of damage.  

The girls like to sleep late, and I like to get up early, so Jean invariably takes on the role of juggling sleeping arrangements to accommodate the grandkids.  I tend to get frustrated by these continual reinventions of the wheel, so I finally said, “You girls just keep the trailer for yourselves, and I’ll pitch my tent and use it.  That way you can handle sleeping times and locations to suit yourselves.”  I selected the grassy knoll behind and above our campsite.  I was set to sleep, rest, or snore to suit myself. 

Rather than the introduction to hell that we had been experiencing the last couple months, the last few days had turned idyllic.  This evening was a cool mid-seventies with a refreshing breeze.  For Oklahoma, it was surprisingly comfortable as I sat there looking out over Canton Lake.  By the time I had the RV work done and the tent set up, I was thoroughly fagged.  I was waiting for Jean to return.  She had gone back home to care for all of her critters, including a new-born bunny that she was feeding twice a day from a syringe.  Once she returned and we all had dinner together, I anticipated a shortened evening and a stroll up the hill to my tent. 

As I walked up the hill to my tent, I saw something shining and sparkling on the ground.  They were the color of blue ice, or like shimmering diamonds.  As I looked around, there were more and more.  Jean had to see this, especially when I looked closer and realized that the twinkling lights were the eyes of large, hairy brown spiders about the size of a fifty-cent piece, and later determined to be wolf spiders.  They can grow to be 4-inches including their legs, but I didn’t see any reaching that size.  Jean looked and looked, but couldn’t see them, even when I indicated precisely where they were.  Finally, I gave her my headlamp, and she could see them all, but now I couldn’t.  A short experiment indicated their ice-blue eyes were the reflection of my headlamp. To be visible, the viewer had to be directly behind the beam of light.  Wolf spiders have the third-best eyesight of all spiders, and have eight eyes.  The two largest ones were the ones creating the reflection.  The spiders are very fast, mostly nocturnal, and while they usually sit near the burrow and wait for a passing victim to pounce on, they will chase a prey a ways, and are even called the ‘never give up’ spider by some populations.

The wolf spider.  Credit Google images

Walking up the hill, I saw them all over the place staring back at me with their beady little eyes.  There were hundreds and hundreds of them.  Many that I looked at more closely were sitting across the burrow they had dug in the ground.  As soon as I crawled into the tent, I zipped it up tight to make sure there were no gaps between the zippers.  In spite of my precautions, at some point I apparently carried a spider into the tent on my clothing or shoes.  When I sat or rolled on it during the night, I got a bad bite on my right rump that continued to bother me for two weeks regardless of what I tried to do to treat it.  It created a sizeable, hard lump that burned until I messed with it, and then itched a lot.  They can jump well, and are aggressive about going after what they want.  In preparation for this post, I decided to do a bit of research, and was put off by one site’s statement that “the wolf spider is considered to be one of the most dangerous spiders in the world.”  I don’t know about that, but can say they can be a pain in the butt, literally.  A couple weeks after this trip, we decided to take a picnic lunch and our books and chairs, and just go down to the lake for lunch and relaxation.  I felt something bothering the back of my neck while I read.  Thinking it was a fly, I swatted at it, and danged if I didn’t get a half-dozen more bites across my neck that drove me crazy for another two weeks.

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