Convalescence Campground

That’s how I’ll always think of this wooded equestrian campground in central South Carolina. Tracy and I received our second doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the same time, and he (thank goodness) had no reactions. I was laid flat for a day and a half, which about drove me crazy. I mean, I knew a reaction was likely and had planned for it with downtime scheduled in, but still I was surprised by how bad I felt and for how long. Yuck.

Stuck in the Trailer

And I don’t rest well. In fact, I think my motto is RESTLESS. The first day I slept a lot, in the bed and on the sofa, and I watched Deep Space Nine on my phone and Grace and Frankie on my iPad. I read All Creatures Great and Small. I listened to the podcasts, Sleep with Me and Renegades (by Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama). Gah, I hate them all by now.

Banjo is not a good companion dog to the sick. When she’s up on the sofa and you join her, she looks at you with great irritation that you’re disturbing her slumber, and she leaves. If she’s sleeping on her bed at the foot of my bed and I have to get up to use the bathroom a million times because I’ve been over-hydrating, she again looks up at me as if I were bothering her on purpose.

At least she’s cute when you pet her.

Venturing Outside

In the middle of my second day I just couldn’t stay inside any longer, so I straggled behind Tracy and Banjo on their afternoon walk. There are some lovely trails here, and one of them is marked with little houses nailed to trees off the path, plus an occasional silk flower dangling over the trail, and even a lone Christmas village house out in the woods. I have no clue why someone put them there or why they’re numbered, but they sure are cute.

I took photos of about half of them.

My Reward

Most campgrounds have one or more camphosts: people at a certain campsite who work as groundskeepers/watchmen/guides/bathroom cleaners, etc. They’re often volunteers who get free camping in exchange for their work for a few weeks or months, and this is a common way full-timers make ends meet on the road.

Our camphost here has a flag outside his camper with a guitar, banjo, and fiddle on it, so of course I introduced myself when we pulled in. Turns out he’s a big fan of traditional bluegrass and goes to a lot of festivals that I’ve heard of.

When I was finally feeling a bit better, he asked me over to his campsite because someone he knew in the local music scene would also be over, and there would be a jam.

The new guy turns out to be a gospel guy who plays stand-up bass in his family’s gospel band, and damned if I don’t know any gospel songs (surprise!).

But, he has that particular talent I’m consistently shocked at where I strummed the songs I know, and on the camphost’s guitar he picked the melody beautifully—even though he’s been living on the moon apparently and doesn’t know a single song I know. And he’s good enough not only to play melody to mystery songs but also to pause and speed up through my mangled rhythm, so that was tons of fun.

But then his wife called him over to his campsite for supper, and that was that.

Except for my camphost, who is a struggling beginner musician like me and got all inspired by us. Turns out he struggled a bit more with his guitar than he wanted, so he put it down after a bit. Still, we had his song book out and I was on a roll, so, with gospel player gone, we sang all the songs we could think of about drinking (we may or may not have been drinking), from Merle Haggard and Chris Christopherson to Willy Nelson. These, of course, are songs our spouses despise, and because our spouses were in their trailers, we sang them with gusto.

He asked how I could know so many old songs, especially the traditional ballads that came over with the English and Irish settlers into the Appalachian Mountains, and I answered that the Grateful Dead used to play them. Instead of dismissing the Dead as I thought he would, he told me a story.

A long time ago, my camphost used to be a chaplain in a hospital. A young guy came in with a broken neck: he’d been in a bar arguing with his wife, left in a huff to pee, opened the door to the bathroom and took a step, but it wasn’t the bathroom, it was steep stairs into a cellar. So, the guy was on life support as soon as he got in the hospital.

My camphost told me that this guy “had been to more than a hundred Grateful Dead concerts,” (“No way!” I responded), and all his Grateful Dead friends came to his bedside when it was time to pull the plug, and they sang and played the Dead throughout, escorting their friend on his way.

Well now, that story’s even better than a drinking song.

I’ll sign off with a picture from me hiking after I finally felt better, three days post-vaccine. Phew.

You guys stay safe!

4 thoughts to “Convalescence Campground”

  1. Glad you’re feeling better but also glad that you’ve probably developed some great immunity to Covid! Your body knew what to do when it encountered those spike proteins a second time around.