As you may recall from my last bike trip blog posts, I left on this trip immediately after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the South. We also ended up cycling through Hurricane Rita a few weeks later, but that’s a story for another time. Because of the destruction and devastation that these hurricanes caused, we ran into evacuees everywhere. I’m talking hotels, campgrounds, hostels, living out of their cars: everywhere.
|I was trying to be a Silhouette Gal 🙂|
Once we had arrived in the south, our sleeping arrangements had switched from city parks and front yards of kind citizens to paid campgrounds. People in the south were not as hospitable or friendly (no offense!) and we ended up having to find locations where we could ensure our safety. However, because of the hurricanes, it was common to pull into a campground and see a car set up for the long haul: clothesline, elaborate camp kitchen, camping shower, etc. For many, these campgrounds had become their temporary home. Because of this, Steve and I didn’t think anything of the old car with Missouri plates that we noticed parked in our campground in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
However, after we had set up our tent and eaten dinner, the man from the Missouri car came wandering over to our campsite to chat. His name was Vince, and we figured we needed to at least be friendly. After all, he was the only other person in the entire campground: it was just us and him.
Immediately, I was uncomfortable around Vince. His face made me nervous, the way he looked at us through his thick glasses made me nervous, and his general behavior made me really nervous. I kinda chose to walk away under the pretense of washing my face because I did not want to be around him. I figured Steve could deal with him.
|Let’s just focus on the beauty of the area, shall we?|
However, after 20 minutes, I came back to find Vince still at our site. At this point, I couldn’t really go anywhere else so I sat down and listened in horror as Vince continually tried to push weed, beer and various pills into Steve’s hands. Steve continually denied his offers, but Vince would not stop and was clearly not understanding our discomfort.
And then it got worse.
Vince began telling us a story about how he had been staying at this campground for weeks and during that time, he had met another man. According to Vince, this “man” was sadomasochistic and kept coming into the campground at night to bother people. Vince then went on to detail how he felt the need to “get the meanness out” of this man by torturing him.
Yes, Vince told us he had tortured a man in the campground.
At this point, I can only imagine the look on my face and Steve’s face was covered in pure shock. We told Vince we didn’t want to hear anymore, but he wasn’t listening. Unfortunately, it was now dark and since we couldn’t ride our bikes through the mountainous roads in the dark, we were stuck at this campsite. With Vince.
Vince continued with his story, explaining every detail of how he tortured the man. Then, as if a light bulb went off in his head, he tells us that he still has his torture devices with him. “I’ll run back and get them from my car to show you!” he exclaimed, running towards his site. What, why would we want to see this???
|I wore this outfit every single day for four months. Awesome.|
As he rummaged around his car a few hundred yards away, another couple pulled up on a motorcycle. We didn’t know them, obviously, but Steve and I both breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, there was at least one other person at this campsite!
The motorcycle couple turned out to be Keith and Lorna. They came over to talk to us while Vince searched through his car for the torture devices. Vince was within hearing distance so we didn’t feel comfortable mentioning to Keith and Lorna that we were miserable, and quite honestly, afraid. However, I’m pretty positive the look on my face said it all.
Vince sauntered back over and laid down his tools on the table: a blowtorch, a knitting needle, fishing hook, etc. He starts mentioning the phrase “prince albert” (if you don’t know what it is, go look it up!) and talking about how he hog tied this “man” and used his tools to torture him. Seriously, Vince was crazy.
At this point, Keith and Lorna realized what was going on in this campsite and decided to leave: Vince was far too gone to feel safe around. Of course, they had a motorcycle with headlights and could drive in the dark. Leaving wasn’t a problem for them. It was, however, for Steve and I.
|It was beautiful!|
And this is where the kindness of humanity, once again, reared its head up amongst all the ugliness we were experiencing. Keith and Lorna could have taken off and left us at the campground to fend for ourselves. After all, they had only met us 15 minutes prior. Instead, they chose to help us out.
They volunteered to escort us to the next possible area where we could sleep. We discovered that there was an RV park 5 miles down the road, so they hopped on their motorcycle and rode behind us, all the way to the RV park. We used their headlights to guide us, and their physical bike protected us from any oncoming traffic.
Upon arriving at the RV park, Keith went inside to pay for a site and we spoke to Lorna outside. I think their parenting instincts kicked in and they truly wanted to ensure the safety of the silly 20-somethings in front of them. They had us share their camping site, and even cooked us dinner for the night. When Keith realized that Steve’s therma-rest had popped a hole, he generously gave his to Steve, without asking any questions. As he put it, “You need this more than me.”
To date, our altercation with Vince was one of the most terrifying encounters of my life. I would share more details with you, but quite honestly, some of the stuff he said to us is not meant for blog world 🙂 However, Keith and Lorna came along and once again, confirmed that people — for the most part — are good. For every one Vince, there are at least two more awesome people standing in the wings!