Sent April 30th, 2015.
Greetings from Virginia Beach, Virginia!
I was sitting here listening to the rain on the RV and realized DH might not have been keeping you all updated, what with him traveling all over the place (even more so than we are here in the RV).
And now – so much to tell, so bear with me, this will be long! I’ll start from the beginning of our exit, so skip over what you know. 🙂
About a week after we found out we would have to leave, I went to Youngest’s school and met, with him, with his guidance counselor there. She mentioned his lack of engagement in school lately, and said that honestly she thinks this is the absolute best thing we can do for him (take him on this travel adventure). She said, “I know you were bored with school, and I think you need a more dynamic learning experience anyway! Just remember, it will be the best adventure ever, if you choose to make it so!” He told her that she and the other faculty have been “amazing, really, just awesome,” and she told him that now that he has gained perspective on what he needs out of school to succeed, he can go to California and advocate for himself, and get what works for him. His teacher in philosophy gave him a reading list, and although I have let him be a little lax for the first few weeks, we’ll be picking up some study guides for high school and keeping his brain active once we hit our next stop.
The last few days before we left Canada were chaos. We had some friends come out and help us, but we ended up doing all the moving of our things into storage on our own, as everyone was working during the week. DH, Youngest and I got all of our workouts done carrying a king sized mattress down three flights of stairs, a couch, a recliner, and pretty much all of our furniture into a truck, off to our storage unit, and back out of the truck there. I keep reminding DH we can’t leave it there forever, we HAVE to retrieve it once we’re settled, because I am aware he left a lot of things in England to retrieve later and…it’s still there, I believe.
The dogs were not happy, running about, anxious, and Milo kept looking at us with the saddest face ever, like, “Guys, are you leaving me?” We had posted ads for the cats after I found out I was allergic (has he told you that?), which made us all sad, and I was networking out with everyone I know online to see if anyone could take them. We ended up finding a woman in Chicago, Illinois, who was looking for two older cats, and was extremely excited about perhaps taking them, but couldn’t get to us in time. After much discussion and both of us realizing it would be worth the added 20 hours to our trip to know they were safe with this person, we added it to our journey plan.
We left April 18th, with some tears and hugs to friends who had helped pack the RV. We drove from Oakville to Ann Arbor, Michigan that first day, where we slept in the RV parked in a truck stop, surrounded by big rigs inhabited by sleeping drivers. The dogs loved the travel, and seemed a little anxious but excited as well. The cats – not so much. Daisy peed on the couch the first day in what we think was terror as a truck was passing us on the road. Though it may have been disgust at what we were putting her through – I wouldn’t put it past her! Daisy was confined to the kennel after that every time we were traveling, and Pandora was left out – her biggest reaction was to MEOW very loudly and seriously as she paced.
After Ann Arbor, we slept one more night on the way in another Truck stop in Richmond, Indiana, and then hit Chicago around lunch time the next day, meeting up with the new cat mom, at a gas station a block from her apartment, where they had RV sized parking. She was lovely, and SO excited, and DH and Youngest walked the cats with all accoutrements to her place while I held down the fort. After seeing her place, DH and Youngest were quite pleased – they said she couldn’t have been more of a perfect fit for the cats. She has a vet who makes housecalls, and a lovely place, and was completely agreeable when we warned her Daisy pees when stressed. She said, “It’s ok – I know what I’m getting into!”
I can’t recall for the life of me where we stayed that night – I believe we stopped just after Indianapolis the first night and at a Walmart in Maryland the next, but we made it to our first RV campsite on April 21 – Capitol KOA Campgrounds in Millersville, Maryland. They were very nice and accommodating, and the place was run by an older couple, who showed me on the map where they lived in the campgrounds, in case I needed anything at all, “Day or night” while DH was gone. Youngest and I putted around there for 5 days while DH flew off to Vegas for a race event. We walked the dogs, had a campfire, roasted hot dogs, and generally lazed about. I set myself a list of things to do and didn’t feel guilty for only doing one or two a day. Organized the storage lockers under the RV, rearranged the stuff in the cabinets to be more sensible, etc. I kept the dogs on a schedule to try and calm them a bit – Milo was not happy when DH got into the cab and left us. 🙂
Maryland was gorgeous!! Cherry trees, hills, lovely green fields. It rained a few days we were there, and the sound on the RV is just so soothing. Neither of us was very good at fire starting (it’s been many years since I learned campfire building in Girl Scouts!), but we managed, and we had a lot of fun doing it, and goofing around together, and honestly – I have seen Youngest just…blossom (for lack of a better word) ever since we began this trip. He’s excited, and alive, and chattering away, and helping out, and just…it’s been so nice. I gave him my old Canon Digital SLR, with some lenses my dad passed on, so he’s started a notebook to record all of the things he’s learning about photography – ISO and shutter speed and everything.
On April 25th DH returned, looked at all I’d done, and said, “We have so much to do still!” Which made me want to goose him, but I held back. I think the mad driving schedule from Oakville to Maryland really took a toll on him – we were all just crazed trying to make it in time for his flight out to Vegas during those days, and Chicago was definitely a hard addition. He was the only driver – so I took on the role of navigator and anything else needed to try and help.
We headed to Assateague Island, on the coast of Maryland, on April 26th, around 11am, after checking out of the very nice but rather expensive Maryland campground (260 dollars for 5 nights!). Assateague is something I’d found online when searching for interesting and/or scenic way points for the trip. It’s a barrier island inhabited by wild ponies. There are various theories on where they came from – some say a Spanish galleon crashed there and the ponies were aboard, some say colonists and settlers allowed them to graze and roam free there, but the ponies have lived there since the 1600’s. It’s a state park, and they are protected (and from all signage, a bit aggressive if they smell food, much like bears or raccoons), but nothing holds them in. There is a bridge to get to the island, and then it’s all beach or marshland, depending on which way you look. Well, of course, wild ponies, how could I NOT want to see this place? We drove around for a while and then DH pointed out it was 6pm, and we should find a sleeping spot soon, so we ended up going to the ranger station and paying 30 dollars to camp at Assateague overnight. As pretty as the ponies were through the zoom lens, I was not eager to go out in the dark to the bathroom – DH was teasing me because I was convinced a pony would sneak up on us and bite us. The ranger hadn’t helped – when I asked where the best spots were to see the ponies, she said, “A lot of people say there are no ponies, then they set up camp, and turn around, and boom – ponies all around!”
We didn’t see any close enough to worry about, but we got some lovely shots with the zoom lens. DH and Youngest climbed the ladder to the roof of the RV and got some great shots! I will send some once my computer is fixed (the hard drive is failing! We had to order a new one). The best thing about Assateague was how lovely and quiet it was. We were a short walk from a beach (Milo was not happy about the ocean, and indeed barked for quite a long time at an old piling sticking out of the sand in the waves), so we all got to see the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast. The place was practically deserted, and I think DH finally got to relax a bit and enjoy the holiday aspect of this trip. We all slept so well that night.
After that our next stop was Virginia Beach – I have a friend near here, and DH had to go off to Monterey, California, for another event, so it seemed wise for Youngest and I to hole up in a campground here. While in Maryland I made some calls to places in Virginia Beach and discovered Indian Cove Resort, which is a 5 star RV park that charges 7 dollars a night. SEVEN! I thought I was hearing things. Turns out you first have to sign up for a club called Coast to Coast, which gets you discounted stays like that all over the states. I signed up, post haste, and we are now set for campgrounds all over for 7-10 dollar night stays. The map of available places has tons of them throughout our route, so I was kicking myself that we didn’t discover it sooner. From Maryland to Virginia we took the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel – it bills itself as one of the modern wonders of the engineering world, which covers 23 miles with bridges, tunnels and small manmade islands. We stayed in a Walmart parking lot that night about an hour from the camp, as our checkin at Indian Cove wasn’t until the 28th of April. That was a fun night – we were under the flight path for a Naval Air station! It was super noisy until 10pm, when the jets finally stopped circling. The Walmart thing is really a lifesaver – the managers of Walmarts will let you park overnight in an RV for free as long as you let them know you are there.
Indian Cove Resort is absolutely beautiful. The weather was nice and sunny, with a light breeze, until today, when it started to rain. There is a nice big dog park, so I take the dogs there and let them run off leash, which makes them both ridiculously happy. It has three pools, tennis and shuffle board, and creeks all around it. We’re in a spot that backs up to the water here, and across the way is another creek. I saw some kind of big bird on a tree over there this morning, but didn’t manage to get much of a photo before it flew off. Sort of an egret thing, I think? Will send photos of that as well once my laptop is all better. 🙂
DH left the 28th for Vegas. Youngest and I have a list of todos, including doing laundry at the camp laundry facility before DH returns on May 4th. The RV is feeling quite like home at this stage. The dogs have found favourite sleeping spots, and when we’re hooked up at a campsite to electric we have all the comforts of home, practically. A microwave, fridge, freezer, little oven, hob, and a bathroom (toilet we only use when required, but the shower is lovely). We’re getting the hang of putting things in places where the bumps of the road are less likely to knock them about while driving. Yesterday the hose inlet started leaking (we use city water through the hook ups at the site) and the neighbouring RV dwellers came over and helped me get it fixed. Their names are Bob and Jane (I told Youngest maybe they’re spies, because those must be aliases!) and they’re older, and here in town visiting their son. When I thanked them for helping, they told me to just help someone else down the road, because that’s how it works in an RV – everyone helps each other. It really is like a community – it’s very sweet, and oddly, I feel more at home here in the RV than I did at times in Canada!
As for finances – we’ve managed to unlock some of my Canadian pension due to financial hardship, so between that and DH’s trips, we’re more than OK to get to California and get a place secured. But we’re trying to stay on a shoestring budget as much as possible, regardless. It’s been incredibly cheap – groceries are cheaper because we just don’t have room for much anyway, and we’re eating salads (how I missed the US produce! The lettuce is so much better here, I swear!) and sandwiches and one night even some little steaks. Crossing the border into the US was easier than we expected, although the border guard did confiscate some frozen chicken out of our freezer. We brought tons of our food with us, so in the storage lockers we have a couple boxes of canned food we’d had in the cold storage in the Canadian house, and we’ve got a long way to go before we go hungry.
It feels…so free. So open and exciting, and I have entirely too much time on my hands, so I am updating my resume, browsing jobs in Sacramento, reading, and writing in a journal, and once we figured out the antenna, Youngest and I have watched a little TV in the evenings. The walk from our campsite to the dog park seemed quite long the first time I went, and I realized how out of shape I am! So I am going there a few times a day with the dogs, and wandering with my camera, and everyone here waves and smiles as we pass each other. People are just so darn friendly at campsites. My dad keeps saying he’s so happy for us, because we got handed lemons and we made lemonade with this holiday/journey/adventure. It feels like a wonderful adventure to all of us – DH the least, probably, since he has to keep flying away and working, although Assateague was quite good for him.
I do miss having a car. I miss the cats – although my allergies are a hundred times better. I cried the day after we left them – I think with everything going on it took that long to hit me. I miss the people I worked with, though we keep in touch via Facebook, where I am posting copious updates (are you on Facebook?).
I hope the both of you are well, and I apologize for such a rambling email, but I wanted to get all the updates to you first thing, so you wouldn’t worry if DH was being all quiet again (I can swat him for you, if you like, when he returns?). I will now hope the wireless at camp is working (its spotty) so I can hit send and get this to you.