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Thursday, June 30, 2011  

The Long, Unhappy Life of Bob Marshall

By this point, our family's pretty familiar with Highway 16, the main road that cuts from east to west across Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There's the entrance, the campground with cabins we stayed at this time, the General Store, the tent sites by the creek we camped at last time, the Shady Rest Picnic Area (not a retirement home, like it sounds), lots of curves, probably a few bison and other animals wandering around, Legion Lake, and Camp Bob Marshall.

We don't know who Bob Marshall is or why he got a camp named after him, but it's not a terribly uncommon name. Which makes us wonder how other Bob Marshalls might react to seeing that sign. Imagine your name is Bob Marshall. You see a sign by the side of the road that says "Camp Bob Marshall." As a law-abiding citizen, you do your best to obey all road signs. So what choice do you have but to camp there for the night?

Sucks to be you, Bob Marshall, because you don't have your camping gear with you. Now you're going to have to turn around and go back to the Pamida in Custer to pick up a tent and all the other gear you'll need to rough it in the state park overnight. I hope you budgeted this into your travel time.

And you know, something else, Bob Marshall? It's bad enough if you're on a cross-country drive, because this is going to add a whole extra day to your trip. But what if this is on your daily commute between home and work?

I can just see your boss and coworkers asking each other, "Where's Bob Marshall?" "Oh, no, he probably drove through Custer State Park again." That means we won't see him until tomorrow." "When will Bob Marshall ever learn?"

And then you show up for work the next day, rumpled, mosquito-bitten, and smelling of wood smoke, and you have to explain how you needed to camp for the night because a sign said you had to. And your boss and coworkers ask, "Why don't you just drive a different way to work?" And you have to say, "But this is the most direct route! Going around would add like an hour to my commute." "Oh, Bob Marshall," your coworkers say, shaking their heads.

But you get through the day, and as you head home, you tell your coworkers, "See you tomorrow." But they just say "See you," because they know that there are signs reading "Camp Bob Marshall" facing both directions on Highway 16. And while you, Bob Marshall, are looking forward to seeing your wife again tonight, she knows full well that in a few hours she'll be calling you on your cell phone with its one bar.

"Where are you?" she'll sigh.

"Well, there was this sign," you'll explain over the rotten connection.

Lucky you had your camping gear in your car already. Sleep well, Bob Marshall. And don't unload your car before you leave for work tomorrow.

posted by M. Giant 1:13 PM 0 comments


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