By the time you read this post, it will be two days old and I'll be hours away.
Headed south to see family, have fun and, of course, drink beer.
And, if you're curious (how could you not be...) I'll be headed to one of the largest gun raffles in the United States. It's an amazing fundraiser for the local fire department down there. We have fun, but we also help out by running around selling tickets.
Originally, my family and I got to know the people who run the gun raffle through my cousins. And now, the Dodd's are basically family too.
It was funny that the first song that came up on Spotify this morning as I plugged in my headphones to dive into InDesign was "Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver.
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads
Though it's not really home, it feels like it when I set up camp at the speedway. We see the same people each year, on the same weekend. People we never knew existed seven years ago, but now are friends for life.
There's the Army boys... which we nicknamed for their military-style camp site. (Turns out, they're not Army... but are military.) There's Cowboy, named for the hat we wears all the time every year, who always has an extra pint of shine to share. Theres the Slip n' Slide Girls. By 10 p.m. every night, they have the water running and are racing each other across the long rolls of plastic.
All the regulars have their spot. We know who goes where in our length of the speedway. And though we don't remember all the names, we all know each others' faces and talk like we just left off.
There are friends who aren't there anymore—like One-Eyed Dave (who introduced himself that way). He was there every year, like clockwork, with his wife and their little dog in a pop-up camper. Dave was always the first one through the gates when the speedway opened on Wednesday morning.
Dave was the first friend we made when we pulled into camp that first year. We swapped stories and drinks and got along like we'd been friends for years. Dave was a Harley man through and through, and always had new pictures of his bikes to show me.
Last summer though, when we pulled in mid-day on Wednesday, Dave wasn't there. We looked to the Army boys and they shrugged. We left Dave's space open, just in case he was running late. You never know. He could have gotten a flat tire, or maybe he forgot to grab his pictures.
The rest of the grounds filled up, but we made sure Dave's spot remained. We built our fire ring near where he'd park and hung out there that night, talking and waiting. Only, Dave still wasn't there.
By the end of the trip, we all knew that it was most likely we'd never see Dave again. Of course, I never caught his last name, so I couldn't look it up online to see if he'd died, or with any luck, was just feeling a little under the weather.
Still, out of respect, we kept that spot clear the whole time. We toasted to Dave to whatever he might be doing—or not doing.
Maybe, when I arrive on Wednesday, Dave will be in his corner again.
Guess I'll let you know next week.