Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cape Charles

Yesterday, amid the pouring rain, we picked up and drove another hour south to Cherrystone camp resort near Cape Charles, Virginia. We are only 10 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the mouth of The Bay. The Whale was sitting in pools of water with more coming down as I raised the jacks:

The drive was uneventful, although we marvel at the number of run-down and condemned properties down here. With the ocean and Bay providing so much waterfront, you'd think this whole area would be stacked with million dollar homes with impecable grounds. Another thing we see a lot is chicken farms and processing plants.
Cherrystone campground is enormous: there are over 300 acres and more than 700 sites, with four fishing piers and a bait & tackle shop. We have a great view of the bay, although right now it is frothing from the fierce west wind. No fishing today, nor tomorrow, I'm afraid. We're on the end of a row, site #637, and expect to stay here at least until Friday. Last night a sliver of the setting sun peeked out between the horizon and the cloud layer:

Lastly, you've heard of the Pushmi-pullyu from Dr. Dolittle? Well, here is the West Highland Terrier version of the same, perhaps called the Sniffmi-pooyu?:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kayak, dinner and guitar

Sunday we had a nice off-leash dog walk, and then I took off with my fly rod and a kayak to see about these Chesapeake Bay "rockfish", or striped bass as we know them in New England. The wind was ferocious, and the water the color of beef gravy, so it was an exercise in futility. I got a good workout paddling against the wind, and I was super glad to have purchased a Virginia fishing license, as two DEP officers were on the bank when I pulled back in. They were friendly and we had a good chat, but it wouldn't have gone so well without that license in my pocket.

The tidal river I was in looks peaceful in this photo, but around the bend: mayhem:

So, having caught no fish, I fire-grilled up some salmon fillets:

Played a little guitar by the fire as evening fell:

Tomorrow we move just a litle bit further south towards the mouth of The Bay. Internet has been miserable here, and should be much better there.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tall Pines, Virginia

Friday our lease was up over at Fort Whaley, so we picked up and moved house just an hour away south-east to Tall Pines Harbor campground in Sanford, Virginia. Now we are on Chesapeake Bay proper - Pokomoke Sound to be specific. It was a rainy day for travel, so I was glad that it was a short day, although the wet road driving wasn't a problem for Gigantor and the Whale. So, we got minimally set up, walked dogs between showers, and I made pizza for dinner in our little propane oven.
Yesterday was sunny but cold and very windy. We tried to go kayaking but took a while to find the hidden launch site, and then didn't go because of the cold and wind. Instead we got some groceries and then explored a bit in the truck, ending up in the nearby town of Saxis, where we found a fishing pier and strange shallow graves in peoples yards. A few pictures of Saxis:

In the evening I grilled burgers over a fire, and then we went to the Rec Hall for the "show" appropriately called "Hillbilly Hoe-Down" where they re-enacted skits from He-Haw and played game-show games using Beverly Hillbillies trivia. Silly, but fun.

Today I plan to take a crack at fishing for striped bass, although the water is very brown and cloudy from recent rain and wind, so expectations are low.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Wild Horses of Assateague

Drove out to Assateague Island Thursday, to the National Seashore (no dogs allowed at the state park). No sooner had we crossed the bridge than evidence of the wild horses was to be seen lying in piles all along the roadway. And sure enough, these little wild horses were everywhere, grazing on dry, tough old grass, wandering at will and without fear among the vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The dogs were very excited at first, but by the end of the afternoon the horses were no longer bark-worthy, which made travel much more pleasant for all of us. We parked and had a long walk along the wind-swept beach and along the roadway, taking lots of photographs of the horses and also of the Sika deer that live here. Assateauge was a very nice and unique place to visit.

Here is Nancy is front of the first horse that we encountered, and some of its "evidence":
This one was inquiring with every stopped vehicle, no doubt looking for a handout. The park strongly discourages touching and feeding - those horses which learn to ask for handouts are most likely to be struck by cars, or to bite or kick visitors. We just said hello and moved on.

One of many nice photos of the natives:

This gives a sense of the rugged environment which these beasts have adapted to:

And here is one of the Sika deer which also inhabit the island:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ocean City Crab Cakes

Wednesday was sunny and 65, so after work, chores and a quick paddle in the morning, we went to Ocean City in the afternoon, drove up and down the city to get a feel for the place, then took a nice walk on the beach and boardwalk.
The dogs had fun rolling in the sand, splashing in the backwash of the surf, and greeting countless other dogs on the boardwalk. A dead humpback whale washed ashore here a week ago and was hauled away first with a bulldozer, then a tractor trailer with police escort!

I found this scene funny: older couple rides up on their motor scooters, then the woman clambers up onto the seawall and lays there like she's posing for a photo shoot. Little did she know - she was!

We couldn't resist stopping for dinner at Waterman's Seafood. I had crabcakes, which were loaded with meat, very good and very filling.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Driving, Dumping, Dilly-Dallying

OK, got internet at "home" now. Here at Fort Whaley campground the WiFi isn't working, so we paid Verizon some more money and got the air-card working. I now know that our priorities are going to be slightly different than I had previously thought. I thought that food, water and a place to park were top priority, followed by electricity, internet, a nice setting, etc.. The new priority is 1) Internet 2) electricity 3) food, etc... Without internet Nancy is not happy, and if she ain't happy then I ain't happy.

So, Sunday we drove down from Otter Lake through Allentown PA, then into Delaware, crossed a cool looking bridge, and drove on down just over the Maryland border. We left at 10:30, stopped for food and fuel, and got down here at about 5:00. Too much driving, we decided. Better to keep it at four hours or less.

Got a great site - on the water, no neighbors at the moment, electric, water and sewer. The only issue is the internet, and that's been all-consuming for Nancy. I think we're close now.

Since we've got "city water" we tried our shower, which works just fine. To borrow from comedian Rodney Carrington: "It feels kind of like a horse peein' on your back. If y'all don't know what that feels like, its like a dog, only stronger." Yeah, it's low-flow, but plenty of hot water, and right here on board - no funky floors or spiders like at some campground showers.

Then, we dumped the tanks. If you haven't seen the movie "RV" then you should. If you have then you'll remember the dumping scene, and I am thankful to say that our experience was nothing like that. In fact, it was easy, clean, odor free - not quite pleasurable, but no more of a chore than doing dishes. So, another RV milestone under our belts.

Had our first rainy day, so got some indoor chores, like laundry and vacuuming done. Today was forecast to be rainy, but wasn't too bad, just cold and windy. Nancy spent the whole day frigging around with the internet, so I fished and hiked and puttered around. Tomorrow I think we'll go to Assateague Island and Ocean City. Assateague has a herd of wild ponies, so we're hoping to catch a glimpse of them. We've got to give up this site on Friday, so I think we'll move closer to Chesapeake Bay for the weekend. I'd like to get some of those famous Maryland crab-cakes, and go fishing for striped bass. Watch for that in future reports.

Camp complete with wood fire and dog fence:

The Whale beaches in Whaleyville

We moved Sunday down to Whaleyville, Maryland, where we are camped at Fort Whaley Campground, at lakefront site 24. Internet has been an issue here, so this will be brief and photo-free. More later...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Nancy and Kinsey joined me for a paddle. Kinsey rides quietly in the storage well behind Nancy, and seems to enjoy herself.
Toby prefers to perch precariously on the bow:

Saturday, sunny and 75, we hiked and picniced along a beautiful trail criss-crossing a creek in the Water Gap Recreational Area. Lots of fantastic waterfalls.

Lots of campers here at Otter Lake for the beautiful Spring weekend. Many have their dogs, so ours were not so well behaved and made a nuisance of themselves. I put up the fencing, which confined them, but did nothing to quiet them down. Busy campgrounds might not be our best setting. After dark, round the campfire, they were good, though, and we even dared leave them alone for a half-hour or so while we went to the indoor pool. We left one of the walkie-talkies inside set for voice activation, so we know that they did not bark while we were gone, which is excellent!

Tomorrow we pick up and move to a campground in Maryland near the southern border of Delaware, near Ocean City, Assateague Island and Chesapeake Bay. We (and when I say we I mean me) will also be experienceing the "joy" of dumping our tanks for the first time. I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Water Gap Hike

Nancy takes her perfect Cosmo out to the dock for drinks:

Drinks on the dock Wednesday evening:
Thursday we hiked up Mt. Minsi, PA, which forms the western side of the Delaware Water Gap.
Nancy and Kinsey turned back as the fire road got rougher and steeper, but Toby and I continued to the top and took in the view.
Toby, King of the Mountain:
We descended via the Appalachian Trail, which was steep, lined with rhododendrons, and brilliantly constructed. It also offered proper views of the Gap:
Back at camp we had drinks around a wood fire
and then cooked our dinner over it.
Another great day!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mind the Gap...

And we're off!

After a frantic bout of "last minute" packing and cleaning, which began at 7:00AM and ended at 1:00PM, we locked the front door and hooked truck to trailer. Our trip began with disbelief that the little green light on the critically important brake controller would not illuminate! Can't go anywhere without that. So, a frustrating 1/2 hour was spent troubleshooting every connection only to find that the breakaway switch on the trailer wasn't fully seated. A simple solution, and we're back in business.

Pulling out was a breeze compared to the 1-1/2 hour ordeal of backing in. Our only issue was the rear bumper dragging on the ground as we pulled out.

We drove west on highway 84, headed to the Delaware River Gap in Pennsylvania. Along the way Nancy broused the web and made some calls to find us a campground that is open year round. We stopped for a break at a busy rest area, and again at a truck stop for fuel.

Rt. 209 took us through the Water Gap National Recreational Area, which is beautiful, and then we turned up a windy back road, driving 7 miles to Otter Lake Camp Resort, where we got a prime spot with water on three sides. It's a perfect spot to start our odyssey. The dogs jumped out and immediately began chasing ducks and geese, and Toby found something vile to rub in, resulting in our first use of our outdoor shower! We walked the dogs, had a simple dinner, and went to bed, exhausted.

This morning Nancy got all connected, and I unloaded and tested both new kayaks (Thanks Defibtech for the generous Christmas bonus which paid for these great new boats!) We think that we'll stay here for several days as the weather is good and the campsite is ideal. We'll explore the Water Gap area, do some walking, biking and kayaking, and look ahead for our next great camp.

Nancy relaxes in front of the lake view:
The dogs settle into their new home:
Nancy at the office:
View of the lake and our campsite from the Hobie kayak:
Toby and I test the Frenzy:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gentlemen, start your engines...

The moment draws near when all tasks are complete, when every item has been tucked away and we look about the house and find nothing left to do.

We had a great party yesterday - a gathering of friends and neighbors who we will miss while we are gone. We shared food, drink and stories, dashed through the wind and rain to The Whale for tours, and said our goodbyes. Everyone chipped in and arrived bearing food, drink and gifts, including Dan's homemade California rolls and an unbelievably thoughtful and generous gift from Jeff: a beautiful acoustic guitar, for me to reaquaint myself with the chords while sitting round the campfire on many peaceful evenings to come.

Today we do the final load, packing in food, spices, cookware, toiletries and other last minute items. Tomorrow there's some chores to do, and then we're off! Most likely we'll stop at the Delaware Water Gap for a day or two, get to know our new home, and make sure everything is in order before heading farther afield. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First post: Countdown to Departure

Five more days at home, and then we shift Gigantor into drive and head out!

It's been very hectic since I left work on February 26th. I spent several days over at the house that we own in Portland, CT, which tennants just vacated, and which we hope to rent out before we leave. Saturday we showed the place to eight interested parties, of which four filled out applications on the spot. So it looks like that'll work out OK.

Since then, I've been sick with a nasty cold, but trying to put in my time getting truck and trailer ready for the road. I made a detailed drawing of the rig showing all 44 places to stow stuff, and we're gradually assigning items to locations. The bulk of the move-in will be last minute, but its good to know where stuff goes in advance. The truck has had some work done - some preventative, some reactive (the radiator failed), and today I changed the oil (it holds 10 quarts!). I still need to change the fuel filter before we leave.

So, tomorrow I bring the water systems online for the first time, and I'll pray that everything works well - no leaks! And any of our belongings that we can live without for the next few days will be loaded, because after tomorrow this wonderful weather breaks, and if it rains it'll be messy loading gear.

Saturday's our open house and party. We hope for a good turnout so that we can see all of our friends and neighbors whom we'll miss while we're away.

Check back next week as the journey will have begun, and I'll be posting pictures and stories from out yonder.