Mr. and Mrs. Hospitality

One of the most interesting things about camping is having an opportunity to meet new temporary neighbors.  My neighbors across the road are no exception, and they wasted no time starting the introductions before I’d even picked out my campsite!  Dennis the Menace.  Well, menace in a good way.  Perhaps instigator is a better descriptive word?  He was right there to greet me when I pulled in, and is right there to pick on me at every opportunity since.  Once I provided the right answer regarding Packers or Vikings, that opened the floodgates of greetings throughout the day, roadside chats, and offering help with little campsite maintenance projects.  Hottest conversation topics seem to be centered around the parks history, and coping with nuisance animals and bugs.

“How’d you sleep last night?”  He prods.

“Like a log!”

“Hummmph. Nothing bothered the dogs?”

“No, like what?”

“You just wait, they’ll find you.  They will.”  He chuckles.

“Dennis, I don’t think anything is going to bother us, we’re all good.”

Yes, Dennis is somewhat of a joker, a prankster, and definitely an instigator.  His slow lanky stroll across the road is always a sure fire signal that he either has a new story to tell, or something to tease me about. 

“Here’s the thing. I don’t have to worry about the coons. You know why?  They have you.  They like you tenters. They’ll get right into the tent with you.  This is their home. Same with the no-see-ums.  They like you too.” 

Well he had a point there.  In the short amount of time I’ve been here, I have been attacked by the no-see-ums like an epidemic, while Dennis stands there untouched.

Maybe it’s the smoke? Maybe the bugs aren’t into those Wisconsin Cheese Heads?

But his wife, Carol, is like me.  Fresh meat for the no-see-ums to feed on, and between the two of us we are scratching, spraying, and applying ointments to minimize the impact of the invisible attackers.  Carol is a wonderful, calm, patient voice of reason, and displays a quiet strength.  She tells me about her long life with Dennis, and living in a tiny trailer as they broke ground to build their first home.  Giving birth to and caring for their first child out of that trailer.  A nurse by trade, she is a rock of compassion and dedication, perhaps the only woman on earth able to survive a life with Dennis the Menace.  A talented seamstress, she has a “get it done” attitude with most things. Carol simply glows when she talks about their four kids, and their grandkids.  She is the real deal.

“See these mounds?” Dennis points to the ant hills scattered across the ground. “Just don’t stand on one of these mounds. The fire ants will eat you alive in no time.”

It becomes hard to determine when Dennis is serious, or just playing with me.  I often look to Carol for the signal.  Eye roll means he’s talking out his butt.  Either way, I look forward to their visits, and his humorous conversations.

Oh-oh, she’s not giving me the eye roll.  I quickly excuse myself, run over to my campsite lay a giant tarp down under the cook tent and living area.  No ants allowed!

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