The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Wild-life in Tennessee

So there I was, looking for a quiet place to pitch my bedroll. It was in May of the year, I had just ridden the Tail of the Dragon westbound, and it was getting on into the evening as I rode westward. I saw, for the first time since childhood in Indiana, fireflies along the darkening roadside. It was a fine evening of reminiscing.

Couple hours later I decided I wanted to find a campground for the night, so I looked on my map and saw Frozen Head State Park. Twenty easy miles off the interstate in Tennessee on a warm summer’s eve.  I headed out away from the known road, in search of the Perfect Spot.

That’s when things started to get sideways.

Got myself lost, went past 3 penitentiaries (I think, or went past one three times, hard to say) but finally found the place after a couple hours of backtracking in the dark. The gate was closed, and as it was about 1am by now, I parked in front of the gate to have a look around. I was hoping to find an empty park but NoOOooo, there was a whole bunch of tents – looked like a kids’ campout. So I eased the bike over the the side of the road alongside the wide area the entrance of the park created(see below) and pitched my bedroll on the starboard side away from the asphalt.

No sooner did I have my boots off but a set of headlights came up and parked over by the gate. I figured it was a park ranger. I waited. After 5 minutes of nothing but headlights and car running, I decided the ranger had probably called the Sheriff (or the boys at the penitentiary) and was waiting for backup. So I slung my boots on and emerged onto the road, crossed in front of the headlights with my hands clearly visible. Turned out it wasn’t a ranger, it was a mom whose daughter didn’t want to stay for the rest of the night. Mother was waiting for her husband to come since the gate was closed. As I crossed, she rolled her window down and in an obviously worried voice was profusely and fearfully apologizing to the big burly dude who had just emerged from the bushes – me. I eased her mind by offering to open the gate, and then did.

I went back over to the bike, and put my hand out on the bike to steady myself before laying down again. I saw a green dot on the back of my hand.

Now mind you, by this time it’s 2am and I’m a little groggy – my first thought was they had a danged laser security system. But I realized after a moment of trying to track my hand backwards up the beam path that there was no laser – that whatever it was, it was on my finger. I looked closer, and realized it was lightning bug guts. I happened to look in the mirror, and it somehow was smeared all over my face! Somehow I had smashed a bug while it was lit, I guess, and I had lightning bug warpaint on.

I Briefly thought about rolling through the kids camp to give them a Legend to tell for Generations of Tennesseean campfire stories, but hey, this is Tennessee, with three penitentiaries. These kids could be packing.

So I eased my way back into my bedroll. And dreamt of Indians and Frontiersmen.

This photo shows the bike the next morning.IMG_0049


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4 Responses to “Wild-life in Tennessee”

  1. Steve Macdonald says:

    Brilliant tale. Thank you.

  2. bodhi says:

    Cool story. I agree a collection would be cool. Keep on keeping on…..

  3. Bodie P says:

    OK, there really, really needs to be a book of short stories centered around your biking mishaps. This one. Crashing VBS. There’s two. You have a lovely way of telling stories, and these are a hoot.

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