During the long, hot drive the day before (Poor Judgment), we saw something neither of us had ever seen before – whirlwinds.
A whirlwind is a weather phenomenon that can manifest in a major way – a tornado, or a minor way – little vortexes of wind, known as snow devils, steam devils and dust devils or in Australia as willy-willies or whirly-whirlies. We had seen several dust devils which caused my driver to veer violently on the interstate as he was so taken with this caprice of nature.
Now, as Jimmy bent over a locker on the outside of the trailer, rearranging blocks of wood, crank handles, ladders, gloves, hoses and all manner of guy things, a fly devil (The Flies) appeared above his head – a four-foot whirling column of friends
When he walked along the length of the trailer to wind things up and down, his fly devil went with him. It was just the most comical thing – like a cartoon of a dirt boy with his very own gang of flies in formation. I pointed above his head and opened my mouth to speak but thought better of it as I didn’t want to spoil my fun. They didn’t seem to be bothering him.
When we were ready to go, we leapt into the car with a similar gusto as when exiting the trailer. A few flies followed us in so we opened the windows after five minutes on the road and helped them out.
Making our first pit stop in Idaho, we opened the doors to discover thousands of the little monsters taking refuge in all the door sills, including the rear tailgate. Some flew in and some flew out but mostly they stayed put so with all five doors open we spent the next half an hour encouraging them out of all the crevices in the car to take flight in their new state.
We continued to pick, smash and flick for the remainder of the journey. One successful method of departure for them was to assist them along the inside of the windshield, open the window two inches and then watch them be sucked out by the vacuum effect. Some of them have been relocated to the spectacular Bitterroot Range of mountains, (perhaps to pick up the Lewis and Clark Trail) which forms the border between Idaho and Montana. They might find the weather a bit harsh come winter.
When we arrived at our campsite in Missoula, Montana (this sorry tale goes on a bit, be pleased you weren’t with us) we found that, no, the flies hadn’t all been blown away to new pastures along the interstate, but had taken up residence in our trailer – on the windows, on the lights, on the ceiling, walls, curtains, blinds and occasionally on any exposed skin – and we’ve no idea how they got there as all the doors and windows had stayed firmly shut since the morning. If you’re interested, they weren’t bitey things – just small, friendly, and rather slow but hugely numerous flies.
We then started to swat in earnest . . . . for hours and hours. All God’s little creatures, I kept thinking as I squashed fly after fly, but what possible use could they have? Admittedly, all the swallows were quite plump back at the campsite from hell (Poor Judgment), but couldn’t God have just let the swallows eat seeds, skipped these particular flies and saved us the trouble?
As the evening dragged on we tired so took it in turns, one holding a damp sponge acting as the killing machine, and the other pointing and shouting annoyingly, “There’s one! Quick! There’s another one!”
We attempted to have an early night, both being dog tired from our freight train excitement the night before. As is our habit, we put out all the lights except the reading light over our bed-in-a-drawer, our cozy train-compartment-type arrangement that pulls out from the back of the trailer.
THWACK! and I was jolted from reading my book as Jimmy squashed a fly on the ceiling over his pillow. I read the same sentence again and SMACK! Jimmy would slap the flies onto the ceiling and then pick them off with his fingernail leaving little fly silhouettes behind.
“It’s no good. I need the sponge,” he said nudging me out of bed whilst showing me his handful of flies.
“I’m getting in the other bed,” I said, having now read the same passage five times still without comprehension. When I put the light on over the other bed, half of the flies dutifully followed me, winging around my face to get a look at my book. “I’m putting my light out,” I blurted tetchily, and pulled the sheet over my head. “Put your light out and go to bed. They won’t bother you then.”
“Put your light out and go to bed.”
“PUT YOUR LIGHT OUT AND GO TO BED!”
He put his light out and went to bed.
Perhaps I should have shown more compassion for the hapless owner of the campsite from hell. I reckon the flies had sent him off his trolley.
Addendum: It has been suggested that the little critters had been migrating and swooped in to visit with us at the lakeside site for just the one night. How lucky was that?
We kept finding the odd dead fly for weeks. After the trauma had worn off, the sight of their little lifeless bodies would raise a fond smile of remembrance.