Monday, September 10, 2007

Little Campsite by the Big Grain Elevators

We have returned from our camping adventure in Red Wing, MN. I figured that with the label of "campground," we would pull up to a lush, green campsite, surrounded by the wonders of nature. I might even hold a dove and feed Bambi oats directly out of my hand. Instead of frollicking animals and a rendition of the scene from Snow White, we were situated next to a Marina, in a campground consisting of mostly whirring RVs and under the Mississippi bridge, across from the Archer Daniels Midland plant, with their gigantic grain elevators and two sets of train tracks. And on the other side of us, a beautiful fungi-infested, mosquito-swarming swamp. I actually befriended a few of my fine, malaria-carrying friends and we are planning to get together next week to cross-stitch and discuss current events whilst watching General Hospital.

As soon as we got to the campsite, I stayed in the van and my parents hopped onto a golf cart so that the lady in the office could show them the site. On their return, when they got within 30 feet of the office again, the golf cart died on them and my parents helped push it to the golf cart shed. That's when I turned to the dog and said "what a craphole." I think I might have seen him nod but I'm not 100% certain. Anyway, we found out that our electricity in our small pop-up camper wouldn't run properly so as my mom put it - we would "rough it" by the light of our TV set. And we did. After we'd roughed it for five minutes, we hightailed it to the casino for some gambling and a heart-felt family sing-a-long to Petula Clarke's "Downtown."

I've never been gambling before and I expected it to look vaguely similar to the hit NBC dramedy "Las Vegas." I was expecting to rub elbows with a Josh Duhamel type or James Caan. If any of you visit the Treasure Island casino with these expectations, you'll be sorely disappointed. From a distance, when driving toward it, the entire establishment looks like a giant Arby's, which immediately had me foaming at the mouth for curly fries. As we parked near the back, under the sign of the banana, I was amazed at the large quantity of vehicles in the lot. We went inside to find a band playing "Island Bonita" and a vast ocean of slot machines. I immediately thought back to my neighbor's thoughts on casinos and the germs. Hand sanitizer would be helpful, if not necessary, and I made a mental note not to lick any of the chairs, as my neighbor informed me that some people find themselves on a winning streak and find it unnecessary to get up to relieve themselves. I found myself thinking how any of this could really be avoided - one should not walk into a casino wearing a garbage bag with a hole cut for their head to protect themselves from germs. After sitting down for a while with $10 credit, I became quickly bored. I don't see how people can get addicted to it. I did accidentally pass up the free soda and mixed drinks wheeled around on a cart by a bored casino worker and I paid the piper by being parched for the rest of the evening.

On Saturday, we drove to Prescott and went to Prescott Daze and tested some of their exemplary deep-fried garlic cheese curds and went to the car show, which meant nothing to me - just boys and their overpriced, over-worked on hunk-of-metal toys. I did buy homemade chapstick in Mint and Tutti-Fruiti, which was refreshing. It always comes full circle between me and chapstick. From there, we moved onto Pepin for Laura Ingalls Wilder Days. From what I recall, the Ingalls family didn't even reside in Pepin for long, so I can't help but question the validity of holding a fair. Anyway, there were little girls dressed in prairie garb everwhere. They even had a fiddling contest, a Laura-look-a-like contest (which we also questioned due to the fact that no one really knows what she looked like without the impression that Melissa Gilbert made on the TV show. If they are really going to go by the show, I think they should have a reenactment of that younger sister taking a digger on the hill). I think that the one girl only won because she had a lunch pail and braids. There was also an essay-reading contest and I felt that most of the girls were lacking important public speaking skills. Their presentations were too canned. I thought it would have been fun if they had been like "I like reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books because she helped save my life. I was a drug addict and reading her books helped me overcome my addiction" or maybe a girl could drive up in a covered wagon that she built from scratch. Now that's entertainment. But they did have excellent ice cream in waffle cones and I was halfway tempted to buy a bonnet. All in all, an entertaining weekend.

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