Escape from Alcatraz: Cicada Invasion

I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to tell you about but very few photos of people because I’ve been so busy. This is a major bummer, but I’ll work harder to remember to take photos before we leave this campsite.

We’re at Greenbrier State Park in Maryland, a little northeast of Frederick, where I worked for 13 years and lived for a couple. This is our final stay on the Friends and Family Tour before we head west, and we’re trying to see as many people and get as many appointments in as possible this week, which so far has been fun, but also a circus.

Our Schedule as a Comedy Sketch

Yesterday, for example, there was a moment when we had six people at the campsite, coming and going all of them, and it felt like that classic comedy chase scene in a hallway where people run through doorways then appear back in the hall from improbable other doorways, then repeat ten times with the people chasing them doing the same madcap thing.

The good news is that I love all these people.

Yesterday our schedule included:

  • Lunch in Frederick at my old fav Thai restaurant with Finn and Bob. This involved three cars and one wrong restaurant.
  • Tracy drove to an appointment while Finn and I walked to haircuts (Finn’s is radical and handsome). Bob walked with.
  • Tracy bought beer and groceries.
  • We all drove back to the campground in three cars and met at the campsite, which was no small feat (see the security issue, below).
  • There we met Dave and Renee, old friends who are also staying at the campground and who walked over for a quick chat to see where we were.
  • We then jumped online for our weekly trivia game with the team because we had a free hour.
  • Renee and Dave came back to our site so we could spend a catch-up evening by the firepit, since we hadn’t seen them for more than a year.

Is your head spinning yet? That was Day One of our week here.

High-security State Park

A complication is that this campground is like a high-security prison. I’ve never seen so many rules in the 8/5 x 11” booklet we got when we pulled in, and many of them are about cars.

So there’s a gate to get in and out of the campground, which isn’t terribly unusual. We were given a code (ditto) but then the code changes on Wednesday. First we were given a parking pass for the truck (after filling out enough paperwork to join the military). Then Finn and I tried to get the second pass we’re allowed for his car, but we had to pull off a parking-pass heist to get it, and the park ranger seemed to be in on the heist, but we couldn’t be sure because she had to whisper to keep the ranger-in-training beside her from hearing the Plan. I’m not making this up.

The Plan revolves around the fact that we’re here over Memorial Day weekend, and the park will fill up each day, and we won’t be able to have any visitors other than the two people with the parking passes. Literally, if the parking lots are full and you have no pass, you’re not allowed into the campground.

After a whispered Q&A with the ranger on how I can get my friend Lucy in when the park’s full, I believe there’s a secret code written in our file that will tell any ranger who calls to check up on us that we actually have only one pass, not two, so Lucy gets that second pass. It’s park ranger magic, apparently, and maybe I don’t have to understand it. All I know is that Bob was able to park past the gate; I once texted Tracy to get the gate code because I didn’t have the pass when I was with Finn; and push comes to shove, we can meet Lucy somewhere else.

(My mom’s side of the family used to have this problem where we couldn’t figure out how to all get somewhere with only some people driving and others leaving their cars somewhere else for efficiency’s sake. We‘d think round and round with plans, then give up and all drive ourselves because we were afraid we’d end up in a field somewhere with not one car between us. So that’s what I say in situations like this.

Tracy and Finn and I and all our friends are gonna end up in a field with not a single car. This actually seems likely here.

Cicada Invasion

I imagine you guys know about Brood X, the cicadas emerging from the ground after 17 years. They’re here in Maryland in full force. Last night while we sat around the campfire with Dave and Renee, we had to continuously flick them off our feet and legs and chairs. And this morning they’re making that droning noise around us that sounds like an alien invasion.

I was excited about this before it happened, and now I’m fascinated, grossed out, irritated, and fascinated again. I had to sweep the dead ones off the outdoor rugs before I could walk around outside this morning.

The bigger pictures is that this park really is beautiful, and I hope to explore it at some point.

And that activity won’t involve parking or passes or meeting someone to get their car. Just cicadas, which I can handle.

2 thoughts to “Escape from Alcatraz: Cicada Invasion”

  1. The whole world is hearing about Brood X for some reason, I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been a news item before – but it’s possible I’ve just forgotten! Finn’s haircut really suits him. When you said it was radical I half thought maybe he’d gone mohawk but I imagine you just meant how much came off 😁