>Travel Diary: May 19, 2003

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Youngstown, OH

I was supposed to spend last night in Boyers, PA at a place called Camp Davis. It’s a gay “resort” (the quotation marks are necessary) and sounded sorta fun. Plus I’m always interested to see how backwoods queers live.

So I get there and the place is completely deserted. It’s pretty obvious which one is the Big House—the one with the fence and a small deck where a K-Mart gas grill is waiting to be installed, still in its cheerful box with the photos on all four sides of Dad flipping burgers—so I go and knock on the sliding glass door. I knock on it a lot.

Finally, a light comes on and this guy shuffles out in a ratty blue bathrobe and socks, reeking of alcohol, and says that no one’s around because they were up until 2:30 in the morning and then everyone went home, and he was trying to have a nap (it is, at this point, about 6:30 in the pm).

This is either Jim or Keith, which brings to mind Olympia Dukakis’s line from Steel Magnolias: “All gay men are named Mark, Rick, or Steve.” Also Jim or Keith. Anyway, I’ve been given to understand that Jimkeith owns the place, and he futzes around, trying to find me the key to a room. No luck. We walk down a little path to the Camp Davis “store,” which sells kerosene and high-markup Pringles, and he finds a key there, and tells me to drive down the gravel road, turn around, and come back up toward the front until I see Cabin #7. So I do. Meanwhile, he goes back inside and slides the glass door firmly shut.

I find Cabin #7 and unlock the door. Two bunk beds and one single bed. Not another stick of furniture, unless you count the ashtray on the window sill. No sheets, no towels, no pillows, no electricity. Not a nice odor. Many cobwebs. A veritable Rorschach of gray and brown stains on the mattresses. I walk two doors down to the communal “bathhouse.” That same odor. Cinder block stalls like at your junior high school gym, only with greener moss. No soap, no towels. Hmmm. I think. This won’t do. Even if they’d told me to bring pillows, sheets, towels, a lantern, and a pressure-washer full of Clorox, I don’t think this will do.

The light in the Big House is off again. So I do a bad thing: I put the key on the windowsill next to the ashtray and I leave. I’m too embarrassed to go tell Jimkeith that his place is a dump and I can’t stay, plus I don’t want to wake him up again. He was already grumpy, and I figure I’m only going to make him grumpier.

I manage to make my way out of the woods without incident, though I’m anxious the whole time that I’ll get lost and be stuck there when it gets dark. Camp Davis is WAY the fuck in the woods, with what seems like about a hundred turns on unmarked roads before you come to the final descent down the slick, rutted drive lined by what looks suspiciously like poison oak. Plus now I’m following the directions backwards. If I’ve learned anything on my road trips, it’s that I’m very, very bad at directions, and I not infrequently discover that I’ve driven miles toward the east when I could have passed a lie-detector test if you’d asked me whether I were going west. That’s when I usually pull over and try to figure out if there’s some way to get back to where I’m supposed to be other than simply turning around. I really hate turning around.

Anyway, when I at last find myself on a road bearing a number that actually appears on my Triple-A map, I’m in Slippery Rock, PA, through no apparent effort on my part. There’s a place to spend the night there, thank the deities, The Evening Star Motel, and even a diner, where I eat a baked potato and a plate of clams that haven’t been so much fried as put to death.

On my way back to the car, I see a town notice board and am transfixed by this flyer:

REWARD
Over 5000.00

For information leading to the arrest and convictionof the person/s responsible for the ‘skinning’ of a dogfound along Muddy Creek Drive, Brady Township

If you have any information
Please call Butler State Police
724-284-8100

Butler County Humane Society
724-789-1150
All information received is confidential.

Directly across from the notice board, along the entire street-facing wall of a wooden building, is another sign, this one huge, in white letters painted against a blue background:

Slippery Rock
PREGNANCY CENTER
724-794-3325 [1]

I’m guessing there are only a couple of things to do on a Saturday night in Slippery Rock.

[1] The Slippery Rock Pregnancy Center turns out to be a member of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation: “There’s always a reason to choose life!”

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Posted on 19 May 2003, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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