Sunday, November 26 and Monday, November 27
The trailer is a’rockin’ but you could totally come a’knockin’ and in fact, I sort of wish you would. I’m bored. I’ve been in here all day, stapling up insulation and worrying. I was supposed to be in the Grand Canyon by now, immersed in spectacular nature, possibly partaking of a libation in the exclusive environs of Grand Canyon Village (which I have built up in my head until it’s something like Olympic Village but with less athletes and more cocktails; I suspect the reality may fall just a little short of the dream) but instead I’m in the dusty parking lot of a fallen on hard times 1970s theme park as 50 mph gusts of wind howl around me.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I like this place. It’s right up my alley. It’s basically the anti-Sedona, and I really, really didn’t like Sedona. I spent Saturday afternoon in Sedona and it was, frankly, horrible even if I did find a new purse. I got very lucky with that purse: I think it was the only affordable thing (and I sort of suspect somebody swapped the price tag, at that) in Tlaquepaque, which is a fancy little adobe area that bills itself as an arts and crafts village but is actually an extremely upscale, architecturally different, mall. Of, granted, all local upscale shops and galleries: no Brooks Brothers there, although I’m sure they’re salivating to get in. But everything is a zillion dollars, everything is tasteful (for certain varieties of taste, like I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to unsee the pumpkin fountain centerpiece) there are ladies in long dresses playing harps and pianos and, to top it all off, a fucking wedding.
Bah. All I have to say about Sedona is that after my shopping adventure (which followed my parking adventure which I won’t describe because even I don’t know that many curse words) I was starving and desperate for a glass of wine and that’s how I ended up spending $9 on a decidedly mediocre (like, probably $9 a bottle retail) pinot noir and $13 – THIRTEEN DOLLARS – on a hummus plate. A fucking hummus plate. In a crappy restaurant which was the fourth place I walked into after rejecting the other three as too expensive. And the hostess wouldn’t seat me on the patio because I was a woman alone, even though it was 3:15 and, honey, I’ve done my food service time and I am here to tell you that if you have space on the patio at 3:15 in the afternoon you fucking give it to ANYONE who walks in the door, because you have two long and lonely dead hours ahead of you. But then I did get to see my old friend at the super cool bronze foundry where he works, so that was nice. He is happy and that’s good; myself, I’m never going back and I will hope against hope that Asheville doesn’t turn into Sedona. Although I think it’s just a matter of time, alas.
HOWEVER! NONE OF THAT MATTERS!
I’m sitting in the middle of a windstorm that is heralding the arrival of a cold front – a really serious cold front, like a 15 degrees tonight cold front – and I’m doing it at BEDROCK. Yes Bedrock! The real thing! Well, as real as it gets. The FLINTSTONES BEDROCK and it is just as amazing as it sounds, with the added delight of being decidedly run down and beat all to hell. AHHHHHH AND IT ONLY COSTS $14 A NIGHT. For that you sort of get electricity. You don’t get wifi. I asked when I checked in and the day shift guy at the campground office, which is also a convenience store, but I’ll get to that in a minute, just looked at me.
“This is Bedrock,” he said, “They didn’t have wifi in Bedrock!”
My electricity kept surging ominously and going out last night so I asked the evening shift guy if I could just plug in to the outlet next door. There aren’t really many other campers here. HA HA HA there aren’t any other campers here. Well, there’s about seven old RVs that obviously haven’t moved since this was a thriving concern and a guy with white hair in a tent and there was a couple from Vermont in an old Greyhound bus, but that would be it. The night clerk helped me move my plug.
“I just got back here,” he said, “I was in a terrible car accident.”
“Oh no,” I said, confused, “Are you okay?” because he told me an hour before that he just moved out here from back East. But, whatever! In Bedrock people tell you things. He nodded about being okay.
So Bedrock has two parts: the RV park and laundry/office/lounge/convenience store/bathrooms/gift shoppe/diner, set in three assorted buildings at the front and the theme park at the back. ALL of it is built just like Bedrock on the cartoon: out of, I guess, poured concrete in suitably funky 60s kids TV shapes. The walls are bumpy and were once painted inside and out in primary colors that have faded to very excellent colors. All the windows are plexiglass, round or oval and off kilter. All the doors are wood and funky shapes and held in place by giant bars. Somebody once tried to weatherstrip them but it’s mostly worn off now into brown chunks. There are large signs and battered wooden cutouts of Flintstone characters and tilted concrete picnic umbrellas over concrete picnic tables. There’s a volleyball court, but I don’t know why. There is ONE restroom in the entire complex that’s currently working. It has two stalls and two showers and there’s a code for the box on the door, but everybody just gives it out everywhere, so I don’t know why they bother. The heat tape on the plumbing has peeled off and the showers are $1.75 for 7 minutes. I decided against the showers, because I’m too uncool for the 70s unisex openness of it all. Also because I don’t want to catch a horrible shower disease and while I aesthetically adore run down peeling concrete that hasn’t been mopped since 1985, my love stops short of bathing in it.
“I need some quarters for the laundry,” I said to the clerk in the office / convenience store (BARNEY’S GROCERY)
“Nah,” he said, “you don’t. Just whenever you’re done come in and tell me. There’s just machines.” Thus I did my laundry on the honor system in WILMA’S LAUNDRY. There are not just machines in there: there is also a pool table and three broken game machines – a crane, a Funky Chicken which I haven’t seen one of those for YEARS and a video game I didn’t recognize.
In the Buffalo Lounge, which is the strange room between the laundry and the office there is a chair made of bones and fur, a shelf of free books (some not terrible sci fi, I added to it happily) a rack of vintage tourist pamphlets for attractions which have probably long since gone to the great theme park in the sky, some boxes and a general air of disrepute and disrepair. And then there is the office, which, as I mentioned, doubles as a convenience store. Grizzled desert people in old pickups keep pulling up and buying multiple twelve packs of beer. Yesterday I talked to a lady with a very sweet chocolate pitbull.
“He’s skittish!” she bellowed (I think she was hard of hearing) “It’s cause last year I was beat near to death with a baseball bat! And I threw him outta the way of the bat! He’s been skittish ever since!”
In other Bedrock dog news, I met two chihuahuas in the laundry room. One allowed me to pet it with a finger. The couple from Vermont had a very old, very tired medium sized dog. And two extremely grizzled older gentlemen with long, long beards buying beer had a bouncy young black dog made of rubber and springs.
Yesterday afternoon I went to the actual theme park, which is behind the wall – the WALL JUST LIKE THE FLINTSTONES WALL WITH BONES AND EVERYTHING – that encircles the campground. You’re supposed to pay $5 to go in but I didn’t bother and nobody stopped me. There is a turnstile but it just stands there on its own, like there used to be a fence around it but it’s gone now. AND THERE WAS BEDROCK just exactly as it was in my Gen X TV childhood. And, just like me, it’s all dinged up and bruised but still sort of intact. There is Fred and Wilma’s house and Barney and Betty’s house and the Post Office, which I had forgotten until I stepped inside. There’s a volcano and a pterodactyl. There’s a ride where I think you push the cars with your feet and a slide down Dino’s back. It’s fabulous. It is, or was while I was there, mostly deserted except for occasional young couples who come in to take selfies and giggle. The soundtrack to Flintstones cartoons is broadcasting through the park. I heard two whole episodes and took a lot of pictures. Oh a lot. So many. I was very happy.
I went to the gift shop and bought a T-shirt and a tiny cactus in a tiny painted pot that said Arizona on it.
“It looks pretty healthy?” I hazarded to the clerk, a thin lady a little older than me with blonde/white hair and a distracted air.
“Yeah honey,” she said, “If it dies it’ll look like this, see?” And she showed me some tiny pathetic cactus skeletons, “Just give it a few drops of water now and then.”
“Cool,” I said, “Well, I usually have a pretty good track record with plants.”
“I do until I get depressed.” she said, “When I get depressed I hear their silent screams but I just walk right past them and they DIE.”
“um,” I said, “Yes, that is tough,”
“They’re screaming,” she said, “And I walk right on by. That’s what happens when I’m depressed.”
The gift shop is connected to FRED’S DINER but I haven’t tried it yet. It’s open for breakfast and lunch and there’s a fairly steady stream of cars, even today. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I breakfast at the diner. I think. I am pretty sure I heard a rat in the bathroom this afternoon and so I am not as enthusiastic about the diner as I might otherwise be. BUT! Do not let one possible rat turn you off visiting this place! It is great here! Just, maybe, don’t use the bathroom. Or sing loudly while you do. Meet the Flintstones, a prehistoric family is an appropriate choice and you probably know most of the words even if they do get mixed up with Gilligan’s Island and the Jetsons.