Rest + Relaxation @ Camp Grandma
Story + Photographs Copyright 2005 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.
sually about twice a year I visit my parents down in The Valley about four miles from the border with Mexico. My nieces started calling the place “Camp Grandma” some time back and the name stuck, although Mom and I used to want to call it Maravilla, even though the mara (ocean) is 70 miles east. Maybe more like marvelous, which it almost always is, despite the heat in summer.
My favorite treat at Camp Grandma is floating in Mom's pool, although this time I swam more than floated. I call it Mom's pool even though Dad paid for it and used to be the pool-guy, too. However, if Dad had his way, he would have filled it in with dirt about 20 years ago. But in this case, Mom has her way, and it's a nice, smallish pool, albeit like any pool, it's a lot to take care of.
I don't worry about that. I just love floating in it, and swimming laps. The summer sun is brutal, and actual white people can't deal with that much UV, and even I was careful, but evening skies are so much more lovely to look up into when I swim — almost always on my back.
Also pretty wonderful to be around are the members of my family, a page of whose photographs I'm working on for soon. But first art.
ooks cool and serene, but of course, it's never really cool till autumn, except after a hurricane blows up the coast. Before I left Dallas, Mom told me it was in the 70s down there. But it didn't last till I arrived. While I was there, Anna kept telling me it was in the 70s up here (Dallas).
Wherever I was, however, was always hot — a hundred or more every day, bright as starshine up close — all the time from when the right front tire blew spectacularly almost parallel with Waxahachie on I-35 barely south of Dallas the first time I tried to drive down, just after closing time for all the Waxahachie tire companies, me changing the tire with two screwdrivers, sweating profusely and wishing for the winds whipped up by passing trucks, forlorn for shade anywhere ever again; driving back to Dallas to buy new tires early the next day, and all the way 500+ miles down all that day till I got back to Dallas one full week later.
Hot. Hot. Hot.
I mostly hung out at the house, reading Orson Scott Card's Magic Street or watching TV, talking with Mom, Dad, neice Haley, nephew Chris and his wife Teresa, sister Mary Ann, brother in law Todd and even talking on the phone briefly with brother Dale. None of my sibs or nephs were there more than a day or two while I was, so I had my parents to myself most of a week, and it really was quite grand.
I also worked long and hard on whipping the local branches of Our Family History into textual and photographic shape on Mom's computer and learning how, then teaching her, how to scan pictures and other OS-X tasks. I stayed pretty busy, but most of that was fun.
Being with family was fab. Swimming every day was frabjus.
The 1-Hour-and-40-Minute Before-Dinner Adventure
Driving Here, Driving There
love blank or masked signs for their non communicative spirit, surely symbolizing government by anarchy. I found this gem driving 500 miles south in the blazing South Texas sun. Despite the ocean of the sizzling surly sticky heat, I got out on the side of the road to capture this slight surreality.
Not really my first palm sighting on my way down into the Sahara sand swept Rio Grande Valley, but the first one I managed to break out of my driving reverie long enough to photograph. Palm trees are the one sure sign along that long and not very winding road south that The Valley is nigh.
My main struggle driving the 500+ miles to The Valley (and back) was getting there before dark. Driving is a lot less visually stimulating at night, except in the cities, which I was avoiding in my all-day beelines home and back.
This neon palm tree in or just north or or somewhere around Edinburg kept me awake long enough to drive those next ten or so miles to Camp Grandma, where I arrived with smidgens of daylight still lilting above.
The last image (below) is the first decent image I shot after I got back into Dallas proper (perhaps I should say Oak Cliff proper, although Oak Cliff, despite what too many ignoramuses say, is Dallas proper). I keep looking for some transitional shots between The Valley and Dallas, but except for getting majorly lost in San Antonio looking without any success whatsoever for the San Antonio Shoe Factory store where Pop gets his seconds (that look like firsts but cost half as much) and I'd hoped to get mine,
it was all a big blur of listening to library audo books and driving mile after mile after mile through wind and rain and weather and a sudden white squall and mostly heat and on and on and on back home to Elderly East Dallas where the dogs bark all day and all night, and the boom boxes boom incessantly. Dear sweet, home sweet home.
Sleep. And dream about floating into that wrinkly water sky.