Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Don't Have To Talk At All.

From Montana I drove to Yellowstone, the part in Wyoming. My campground was horribly overcrowded, but I didn’t spend much time there on the first night. I arrived kind of late and spent more time wandering around the park than I did sitting near my tent. I saw some deer, some bighorn sheep, a moose, some bison, and a bunch of weird small animals.

In the middle of the first night, after I’d fallen asleep, the group in the site closest to mine got back home after a day of fishing. They were a father and two sons and a few friends. They were all drunk (even though I’m pretty sure some of them were only 14 or 15), and the father was one of these guys who has to tell everyone exactly how to do everything. So for about an hour, I listened to him telling these kids how to set up their stuff and pack away their fish and brush their teeth, etc.

At one point a wolf howled and silenced them (and everyone else in the park) for about three seconds. It was a nice three seconds.

I eventually fell back asleep after listening to them arguing for 20 minutes about how to start a fire. When I woke up, they were gone, and I saw that they never did get the fire going.

That day I drove the hour and a half to Old Faithful. I got there just as one eruption was finishing up and decided to wait the hour and 45 minutes for the next one.

It was lunch time so I walked over to the gift shop/cafeteria to get some food, but there were like 600 families in line, each with 15 or 16 screaming 4-year old children.

I grabbed a can of refried beans from the back of my van and ate it with a sleeve of saltines in the parking lot (I’ve run out of quick snack foods to eat).

After eating I went into the store and asked the dude working there if there were any WiFi spots in the park. Before I finished asking he said, all rude-like, “no.” Then he said, all contemptuous-like, something about how people come to Yellowstone to escape that stuff.

As it turns out, there are wireless spots in both Yellowstone and the Tetons; you just have to sneak into one of the weird, huge hotels in the middle of the parks to access it.

I grabbed a spot in front of Old Faithful about twenty minutes before it was scheduled to erupt again. It was very hot and the children in the family next to me were complaining endlessly. Every time Old Faithful steamed or shot out a little bit of water (which it often does) the children would scream that it was over and they wanted to go. Their father joked, 13 or 28 times, that Old Faithful was nothing more than a man waiting underground with a fire hose. His 76 children thought this was a riot and it was the only thing that got them through the ordeal that is Old Faithful. Every time they started to complain he would tell this fire hose joke and they would roll in a great sweaty pile, laughing hysterically and repeating the joke over and over until they remembered they were very hot and bored.

The eruption was twenty-five or so minutes late. At the ten-minute-late mark the joke switched from firehoses to, “Old Faithful isn’t very faithful is it?” The children laughed even harder at this one, perhaps because it was only told 11 or 12 times and never got stale.

The family got fed up and left about two minutes before Old Faithful erupted.

When I got back to my campsite a new family had taken the vacant spot left by the fishermen. This family was from Utah and they had only one child, a kid named Marky.

I sat near my tent and opened up The Naked and the Dead, a book I’ve been reading since before my onslaught of visitors.

I didn’t get very far. Although Marky was a child of few words and sounds, his parents felt the need to be constantly talking at him.

Get off the coolers, Marky.


Mommy doesn’t like it when you say no to her, Marky.


If you say no to your mother one more time you’re getting a time out.



Stop hanging on that tree, Marky.


If you say no to her one more time . . .


Stop kicking the SUV, Marky.


Stop touching the grill, Marky.


Get off the coolers, Marky . . . You can’t climb on that cooler either, Marky . . . No, not that one either.


No, Marky.


Get out of that tent, Marky. We like to be able to see you.


Do you want to take a nap, Marky?

(comes running out of tent) No!

No rocks on your plate, Marky. Don’t touch that.

You have to get down, Marky . . . Get down, Marky . . . Marky! Get down now! Do you want a time out?


Did you check Marky’s diaper, honey?

You check Marky’s diaper, dear.

I did it last.

Do it again! He won’t stand still long enough for me to check it.

This went on for about an hour, until it was dark out. After getting into his pajamas Marky came out of the tent and asked his father why the fire wasn’t burning yet. His father told him the fire pit wasn’t a very good one (though it was the same exact fire pit that’s in every single park ever). Disgusted, Marky through a stick into the fire pit (it barely missed his dad’s head, unfortunately) and went back into the tent.

Getting him to go to bed was another ordeal, but I won’t list all of that. By midnight the kid complied and went to bed despite being angry about the lack of a campfire.

The father’s snoring and gassiness (and like three car alarms) kept me up for a good part of the night. The snoring wasn’t that loud, but our tents were that close.

The next day, while packing up my own site, they piled into their truck to go exploring for the day. Although the exit was clearly marked, it took the father three loops around the campground to get out.

I will never camp in the Disneyworld of wilderness that is Yellowstone again.

My campground in Grand Teton was awesome. A friend from my writing group suggested it. I had to get up at five on Sunday to get a spot, but it was worth it. The only bad thing about it was that the other campers were all way awesomer than me. They had incredible equipment and clothing and could set wood on fire just by looking at it. There were even sites reserved for people on bicycles. The people in that part of the campground had biked hundreds and thousands of miles to be there.

I’m picking up my friend Danielle in Denver tomorrow, and my next reading is in Bismarck on August 5th.

Self-Publishing Stuff #5—Writing!

Lots of people ask about my writing habits at my readings, so I will talk about them here for those of you who are interested. Many people also ask what my parents do and what economic class I am. I’m not sure why they ask this, but I will answer that first.

My mother is a nurse at the VA and my dad is an English professor at a community college. I think this makes me middle class.

When writing, I write a thousand words a day. While writing DMR I generally wrote more than this without trying to. The first draft of the book was 176,000 words (close to 700 pages double spaced Times New Roman). The final book is about 73,000 words I think. I do sometimes skip days, but I keep track of these and make up for them later. I try to write in the morning, and whenever possible, I get up to make sure it’s the first thing I do in the day.

I started off by saying “when writing” because I’m not always writing. After finishing DMR I took a couple months off. I didn’t write at all, I just read.

This summer I have been keeping up with the thousand words a day thing for the most part. And yes, I do count the blog entries in this.


Brown Sugar and Fig said...

Ah yes, tourists and their 76 children. And children named Marky, for that matter. Never a good sign. At least it sounds like this was the first really horrendous camp experience you've had on this trip. Nice that it took so long to happen!

daniel trask said...

Yeah, and it wasn't THAT horrendous. I really like children. I just prefer it when they're not gathered in the thousands.

Jasmine said...

The dialogue between Marky and his parents is hilarious.

The Belle in Blue said...

Hmm . . . your tendency for hyperbole seems to increase with each camping experience. Fortunately, you do it hilariously and well.

All caught up on your blogs entries now. Best 96 hours I've spent in like a hundred years! ;-)