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Monday, July 30, 2007
(11:28 AM) | Stephen:
I'm Back. Did You Know I Was Gone?

Okay, so I went camping. I meant to have a post letting everyone know, but I got really behind trying to get ready.

We went down to a place called Linn Valley Lakes. It's a huge private development, with its own golf course, several lakes and ponds, clubhouses, beautiful lakeside homes, camping spots and cabins for rent, and bunches of lots that people have purchased and on which they've parked trailers, RVs or manufactured homes. We went with 2 other families, both of which have 2 children as well as us. We had tents and an RV, which I graciously offered to sleep in so that my young son could sleep in a comfortable place. I'm just a generous guy like that.

Well, actually, my idea of camping is that when I'm in my suite's hot tub, the view out the window is of a forest.

But we cooked over a campfire and went fishing - we did have one nice lunch of smallmouth bass cooked in a bit of oil, salt and pepper - and spent a bunch of time in the swimming pool and one of the lakes.

Oh, and I made a new best friend:

Trombiculidae larva

Some people think they're environmentally friendly, but how many of them have offered up both ankles and their waist as a feeding ground to countless of nature's smallest, and most evil, denizens? I haven't had chiggers since I was a kid, and I mercifully had forgotten just how awful they are. Some mythbusting: chiggers don't burrow into your skin. Like most arachnids, their saliva dissolves animal tissue, which they then ingest. So they inject their saliva into your skin and slurp up the goodness. After a bit your skin responds by hardening around the area, forming a little tube called a stylostome. Great news for the chigger, because that pretty much functions as a straw for them. Bad news for us, because it's the stylostome that itches, and it takes freaking forever for your body to break them down again. The chiggers themselves are usually dislogded once the itch starts. They actually need a few days to finish feeding, and once they get going on one host they can't do their business on another. So pretty much every chigger that picks a human as a host dies. As they should.

The reason they're dislodged is because of the frenzied scratching associated with the production of stylostomes. A fairly common way of speeding up the destruction of the stylostomes is to scratch so hard and deep that the stylostomes, and the skin surrounding them, are removed from the body. Which produces blood and creates a great environment for infections.

#$@$%#$%@%@^%&&^%*%^%*^&^#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate chiggers.

Anyway, on Saturday night we went into La Cygne, Kansas for dinner. La Cygne is the type of small Midwestern town with which I'm fairly familiar, yet which would cause David Broder to run screaming into the night if he didn't have the calm assurance that he would be back in his regular environment of black-tie cocktail parties and $10 million Georgetown townhouses immediately following his safari into "Real True America."

We ate at Molly Michael's Outpost.

Sorry it's not a better picture. Anyway, their tagline is "We only look expensive." At Molly Michael's you can get regular fries, spicy seasoned fries, waffle cut fries (lightly seasoned), and Suzy Q's - curly fries. And fried okra. And fried shrimp, fried chicken, fried fish, chicken fried steak, fried tenderloin and fried brownies.

At Molly Michael's, Amber Bock is an "import." That's Amber Bock, produced by Michelob in St. Louis, Missouri. Boulevard Brewing products are not offered, because the only imports they offer are the aforementioned Amber Bock and for some reason Blue Moon, a Belgian White that's actually made in Belgium. Boulevard Brewing company is in Kansas City, Missouri, 50 miles away.

Good times, good times. It is nice to be back home with water that comes from taps and a delightful lack of campfire smoke in the air.


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