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29 – Are we in Twin Peaks?

“Paducah. Padooooocah. Pad. Oooooh. Kaaaah. I like the sound of that. It sounds solid.” Mom pauses to consider. “Then again, if you say it wrong, it kind of sounds like you’re about to throw up.”

Given the amount of dog vomit we’re cleaning up on this trip, it’s hard not to think about everything in those terms.

Tonight we’re staying in a popular recreation area near Paducah, Kentucky. The campground is across from a pretty little cemetery, so if anyone gets throttled in a momentary fit of extreme aggravation, or if anyone accidentally throttles themselves by tripping over and getting tangled in a random pet leash, there will be a convenient place to put the body.

We arrive in the mid-afternoon to find an absolutely lovely RV camp set down on a hilly area in the middle of a huge grove of mature maples and other trees that will remain unidentified because I’m not a botanist and didn’t pay enough attention in biology class, and apparently neither did mom. There’s a beautiful silvery gray split-log cabin, a small rose garden where two winding drives intersect, a lot of very green grass and other pretty plants which will also remain unidentified, the requisite garden gnome with a purple hat, a warm breeze and that golden autumn light that makes everything look like a Rembrandt masterpiece.

You can’t see the graveyard across the road unless you’re at the entrance gate, but honestly, even that is picturesque. If I weren’t actually looking at it live and in person, I’d think it was a movie set for a film about a bunch of happy ghosts getting up to hilarious hijinks, or maybe a horror film. It’s just that suspiciously perfect. I keep waiting for an ominous soundtrack to start playing in the background as every person here stops in their tracks and slowly but simultaneously turns to stare at us with blank yet deeply menacing eyes. Or for a bunch of wisecracking ghosts to start popping out of the trees and behave in ways that are quirky yet endearing as they help us to save the world, or some such thing.

Wood cabin surrounded by trees

The only sounds are happy squeals from a couple of children playing, birds chatting with one another in the treetops, the wind blowing through the leaves and the loud and continuous hammering of an industrious builder working on a half-finished but very impressive deck. The RVs in this park are more like mobile homes. They’re mostly very large and have carefully tended yard areas with flower beds and Adirondack chairs. Several have redwood decks built around them, but none are as extensive as the one currently being built right next to our spot. Though if the home improvement competition here is anything like the one in my neighborhood, that will soon change.

“Hey there, ladies.” A man in a golf cart waves at us. “I’ll show you your space and help you get set up.”

One unexpected highlight of this trip has been the ongoing parade of very nice people who want to help us. From giving us a pressure reducer for the hose to offering the keys to one of their cars for as long as we might care to use it, the people we’ve met have been astonishingly generous. Today’s incredibly generous person is the owner of the RV park.

He starts by setting up a complicated arrangement of wooden blocks that are supposed to go under the wheels of our camper to level it out. After about 15 minutes of backing up onto the blocks at his direction then rolling forward off of them so that he can make adjustments, then backing up again, then rolling forward again, then backing up again, etc., we are finally parked and level. (Which means, among other things, that no one will accidentally roll out of bed in the middle of the night and risk falling into an undiscovered mother lode of dog puke or cat piss.) He then earns a permanent place in my heart by hooking up the poop chute, complete with extension tubes that he magically produces when we discover that ours isn’t quite long enough to reach the dump tank. (Don’t even ask.)


Gnome in a purple hat

“Do you know where you’re going for dinner?”

Mom and I just look at each other. It hadn’t occurred to us that it would be an option. But restaurants are open here and our host has very firm opinions on which dining emporium is cleanest, safest and has the best food.

“It can be hard to get a spot, particularly now they took out half the tables, but I’ll call them. They know me.”

I am not surprised to hear this.

“Now, you’ll need a golf cart to go downtown. No cars allowed.”

He offers to lend us one, which requires a ride up the hill to the house he built for his wife (he informs us that she is wonderful in every way and deserves to have everything she might ever want in life), an extended search for keys, and a guided tour and history of the entire RV park.

After he parks the loaner next to our RV, his history lesson suddenly swerves into an astonishing tale about drug dealers trying to take over the park, which led to him kicking them out rather emphatically, which led to them running him down as he was riding his motorcycle, which led to months of hospitalization and rehab, permanent disability, and a brain injury that still hasn’t fully healed.

During most of the golf cart acquisition process mom has been relaxing in her camp chair with a book, but by the time he gets halfway through this saga the book is in her lap, completely forgotten, and her jaw is in her lap next to it. By the time he’s finished, it all sounds a lot like the kind of prime time television that involves escalating vendettas and a horrifying amount of bodily harm and property damage. When he informs us that “those troublemakers” are no longer in the area,

“Are we in Twin Peaks?” I whisper to mom. She shrugs, wide-eyed.


Yellow golf cart

Our host then hands over the keys to the golf cart.

“Just leave it up at the house before you check out. Keys can stay in the ignition.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yup. It’ll be fine. Now you turn it on this way, then…”

“Don’t worry, I’ve driven one before. But thanks so much for your help.”

He looks at me closely, then nods.

“Well, alrighty. Just watch the gas pedal. This one has has a little more oomph than most of ‘em.”

Then he gives us directions to the restaurant, tells us to enjoy ourselves and heads back up the hill with a cheery wave.

We feed the cats, feed the dog, potty the dog, make sure the spider plant is hidden so that Skeeter the cat won’t eat it, make sure anything breakable or containing liquid is secured so that Skeeter won’t make a game of trying to bat it from one end of the RV to the other, make sure Sophie the dog is comfortably ensconced in her nest at the foot of mom’s bed and that she shows no signs of imminent vomiting, make sure Lizzie the cat has recovered from the trauma of the day’s driving and isn’t producing another inappropriately located puddle of pee, load mom’s walker into the golf cart, load mom into the golf cart, check for wallets, check for phones, check for masks, check for keys, and prepare to head into town. I start the engine and turn to look at mom.

“Put your seatbelt on.”

Mom stares at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“It’s a golf cart! They don’t have seatbelts.”

“This one does. Trust me, buckle in.”

Of course I do my best to burn rubber the minute we get the golf cart past the front gate, and mom whoops with delight.

It’s a lot of fun to drive a souped-up golf cart on a public road, especially when it has a lot more oomph than most. Mind you, this public road is a lightly traveled two-lane with lots of signs warning people to watch out for visiting idiots trying to burn rubber in souped-up golf carts. (That isn’t literally what the caution signs say, but let’s be honest, they probably should.) As we careen down the road toward town like Thelma and Louise, I’m reminded of all the movies I’ve ever seen that start out in pretty little towns that look like perfectly groomed amusement parks full of nice, slightly eccentric, people and fun, idiosyncratic quirks.

I really hope we haven’t somehow ended up in Twin Peaks.

1 Comment

  1. Diane Cyphers

    You know, she often puts in a request for a souped-up golf cart as a holiday gift.
    But, for now, she will have to settle for a senior scooter with rabbit-speed!


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