Fools in Paradise
Copyright© 2019 by UtIdArWa
The day before the film crew was to set out from Elk city, Suzy and I locked up the cabin, loaded up the stock and headed down to Elk City. The plan was that We, Suzy and I would keep an eye on how they behaved on the trail that first day. Then after setting up camp, we would introduce ourselves. The plan also included that we make a dramatic entrance, something boffo as they say in movies.
I don’t know if that was true or not. I thought it was stupidly funny.
We arrived at Elk City and turned our stock out to Mabel’s pasture. It would have been crowded what with our 3 and the 7 others. But John had parked his remuda and crew over at the Forestry office.
Percy Wilcox’s replacement, Harry Jones, had continued Percy’s campground idea. He had floated it by his district leadership. They saw no problems, as long as the accounting stayed clean and all of the money went to community projects.
After turning out the stock, Suzy and I walked down to the hardware store. Inside was the usual crowd. Tourists in their standard summer vacation feeding frenzy. City folk spending 3 and 4 times what the trinkets and toys on display were worth. Stuff designed to appeal to the clueless. City folks have their black Friday after Thanksgiving, Country stores have 5 months of vacationer avarice. A business’ profit margin and winter survival are determined during tourist season.
The main reason we were at the Hardware store was the outdoor ice cream parlor. The local ladies auxiliary had decided to set up an ice cream parlor as a fund raiser. It was nothing more than an old camp trailer that had been gutted and freezers put in. It worked off of the hardware stores power, the owner’s contribution to the community effort, which meant that Burt’s wife told him to it. They also had some tables and lawn umbrellas. Right there on Main Street, it was a nice place to do some people watching.
Joan McNamara considered herself Head of the Ladies Auxiliary, The queen of Elk City social set. And as long as she kept her ego in check, everybody else allowed as she was a “Nice” lady. Burt, however was the mousiest person I had ever met. A sharp look could bring him to tears. When Joan had announced that Her husband would be supplying the electricity, at cost, Joan wasn’t that foolish, He sheepishly agreed.
I had promised Suzy a strawberry triple decker cone. While I stuck to My chocolate special. We sat at one of the tables and did a little people watching.
It was amusing watching the families that were on vacation. They were always in a rush. While daddy was gassing up the SUV, the wife and kids headed towards the various gift shops. Momma would slowly drift through the various clothes offerings, Overpriced t-shirts with witty slogans or messages that proved the wearer had indeed been to Elk City Idaho. Hats and scarfs with neon colored fish or elk on them.
The kids would stampede through the toy sections. Picking up random useless junk and hauling it back to momma, asking Please, Please, PLEASE life will be incomplete without that plastic tomahawk, chicken feather headress or rubber horse. Momma would glance at the price tag, without really seeing it and say “No, Try this shirt on.”
Eventually Dad will get tired of waiting and insert himself back into his parental role. He will remind the wife of their time schedule and that they needed to be in Butte, or Boise, or Billings in 5 minutes. She, of course, well aware of the time, will ignore her husband and suggest that they have lunch in this charming little hamlet.
If Daddy has a lick of sense, Mable’s is going to be his next stop. Whether he likes it or not. There will be a splendid meal of greasy cheeseburgers, limp french fries and a Coke with more ice than Coke in it. The kids of course will continue their out of control tirades, she got more fries, he used all the ketchup, it’s catsup dummy, I’m not a dummy you’re the dummy. MOOOOOM.
It’s always a pleasure to sit in the next booth. That’s why I’m ALWAYS at the counter.
Eventually Dad’s impatience and indigestion will require a trip to the CVS for antacids. Soon after they will be on their way. Until the next tourist trap that appeals to the mob.
Before Suzy and I had finished our ice cream, we spotted John and his crew. There were 4 of them. The obvious leader was an older gentleman. I say gentleman because that was my first impression. He carried himself with an air of command. I had seen this in some of the more capable NCO’s and Officer’s in the Army. Not all, but there were a lot of them. These were the leaders that didn’t have to cajole, beg or threaten. When they gave an order, you did it. Sometimes wondering halfway through, Why. But then continuing on.
Next was an older guy. Not as old as the leader. Maybe 30 or 31 Years old. He had loaded some steel sided luggage onto his horse. When John tried to get him to load it on one of the pack horses, he refused. I heard him say it was too valuable. Right off the bat, I had a bad feeling about this one.
Next up was a big guy, football player big. And it was obvious that the rest of the group considered him as the heavy lifter for the group. He spent most of his time helping John load out the pack horses.
The forth member of the group was a smaller and younger guy. In fact, he looked more high school than college age. He spent most of his time talking to the old guy, or at least not very far from him.