The wind blew at 18mph for most of the night. BOB rocked in the cross wind, in part because I hadn’t lowered the stabilizing jacks. A breeze of that magnitude also let me know that he is far from airtight. It was 55 degrees inside when I put the heat on in the morning. The blower seemed to lack power. I hope that's a reflection of it being powered by the batteries, as opposed to a new problem. I had to run the generator to dry my hair because the batteries don’t power the outlets. I have to admit that dry camping in either the cold of the winter or the heat of the summer is not for me.
I saw the doe again last night, then I saw her and her fawn this morning. Three older-looking-than-they-are guys dressed in camouflage were standing near BOB this morning after I walked the dogs. They were dressed to kill but they were sporting cameras and binoculars instead of guns. I assumed they were "pony" spotting. About an hour later a pony walked by BOB. It looked like the same one I saw the night before but I couldn't be sure. As I left the campsite to drive to Chincoteague, there were three ponies along the road. One was a filly, and I was able to get a couple of pictures of her with my phone. She was scruffy and small and adorable. I wish her good luck: it's a hard life on Assateague.
The RV park in Chincoteague has 633 sites which makes it the largest park in which I've camped. Five hundred of them seem to be mobile homes and RVs which never move. The park closes the last day of November, so whatever remains has to be winterized and isn't accessible until the park reopens in the spring. The RV park only takes cash or checks; I carry little of the former and none of the latter. Cable is a la carte. Parking is on grass, and four sites share a multi-headed spigot for water. If this place is indicative of RV parks on the eastern seaboard I will not be happy. Fortunately the season is over so it isn't crowded, but it's noisier than any other park in which I've camped. It must be horrible in season, and this park is the best-rated site on the island.
The ponies of Chincoteague are the ancestors of the ponies of Assateague which swam to this island. I rode my bike to the southern end of Assateague this afternoon to catch a glimpse of them, but it was to no avail. The snowy egrets, great blue heron, Mallards, and fucking Canada geese were present, however. I parked my bike and walked to the ocean and watched the waves for a few minutes. On my ride home, I stopped to buy a Powerball ticket because I like the odds.
When I arrived at Kim and Kate's a few weeks ago, I ran yet another set of experiments to determine the source of the leak under the kitchen sink. I ran the cold and hot water faucets individually into each basin, but no leak occurred. The basin and the faucets have never felt wet when I've discovered the pools. The water must be coming either from the input pipes or the drains, since there is no way an exogenous water source (e.g. AC or heat condensation) could enter the cabinet area. I have been keeping a microfiber cloth on the left hand side of the cabinet to absorb the water because it only pools there. After I ran my experiments, I added a rubber shelf liner to the entire cabinet bottom. This morning, when I arrived in Chincoteague, the microfiber cloth was soaked. The rubber liner was dry beneath it. I replaced the microfiber cloth. The source of the leak remains a mystery because I can’t remove the panel to access the lines going into the faucet – doing so would require the disassembly of the drain pipes, and they are glued together.
In the wee small hours of the morning, the United States elected (effective January 20, 2017) to become a Banana Republic, or more specifically, an Orange Republic. My rational mind is trying to console me with thoughts like, "Maybe Trump is crazy like a fox!" But, it isn't having any success. Trump’s choice of Cabinet Secretaries and his nomination for Supreme Court Justice will portend the fate of the nation for the next two years until the House goes up for election. Until then, Trump will spend his political capital freely. At least we know what Alec Baldwin will doing for the next four years.
There are two truths this morning: one, never trust the polls; and two, Hillary Clinton's political career is over. Although Secretary Clinton marginally won the popular vote, I can't help but feel that the country just doesn't want her. She failed the "beer test" as did Mitt Romney, but there is more to it than that. It's a given (or should be), that career politicians will say and do anything within the elastic limits of the law in order to get elected, but three decades of Clinton scandals (Whitewater, extra-marital affairs, Benghazi, the private email server, The Clinton Foundation, et al.), whether proved or only alleged, are enough to suggest that they believe they live above the law. And, when her message distills to "four more years," it certainly doesn't foment either inspiration or action compared to Bernie Sander's whackadoodle ideology or Donald Trump's Hitleresque hate-and-blame pedagogy. Hillary Clinton may have been the best qualified Presidential candidate across all parties, but she was a poor choice for the Democrat party, and she was "chosen" because it her "turn" (again). While Donald Trump has derailed the Republican party of Reagan, Hillary Clinton has also proved that the Democrats need to retool their ideology.
I'm not sure if I'd feel any better if Clinton had won. I didn't want a second Obama administration let alone a third. It's like putting your money in a CD – sure it's safe, but your wealth isn't going to grow. A Trump presidency is like putting your money in junk bonds – you're either going to make a fortune or lose everything. He'll probably make Michael Milken Secretary of the Treasury. I might feel better about Trump if I had a job. Looking for employment has its own measure of uncertainty vis-a-vis the with whom, what, where, when, and how much; however, the certainty of dissaving never feels good.
This morning I drove to Assateague Island National Seashore which is 80 minutes south of Kim and Kate's beach house. I'm dry-camped for the night. Assateague, MD and Chincoteague, VA are known for their wild horses. I've wanted to visit (Chincoteague, in particular) since I read Misty of Chincoteague when I was a kid. The book also made me want a "pony." My father promised me one when I turned 10, but he didn't deliver. Occasionally, he acknowledges his failure, then attempts to make amends by offering to buy me one for my loft condominium, or, more recently, BOB.
The weather forecast for this week had proved more accurate than the election polls, but today it similarly shit the bed. It began raining this morning, and was predicted to continue all day. Fortunately, it didn't. I took the dogs for a long walk at mid-day and we saw a doe and her fawn, then one wild horse. The deer and the dogs were quite curious about each other, but the horse and they took no notice. The horse was chestnut with a blonde mane – a spectacular color combination – but we were never closer than 100 feet to her or him. The horses are likely descendants of farmers' horses turned loose to graze tax-free in the 17th century. The poor diet has rendered them pony-sized and bloated from their high salt intake. The Maryland horses, which are owned by the National Seashore, only receive veterinary care when they are mortally ill or wounded, in which case they are euthanized. The Chincoteague horses receive routine veterinary care because the local fire department owns them and sells the foals to raise money.
I've agreed to meet Kim and Kate on Jekyll Island the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I don't need two-and-a-half weeks to get there, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do to slow down my natural progression. I'll spend three nights each in Chincoteague, Rodanthe, Emerald Isle, and Charleston, but that still leaves me a few days to kill. I'm trying to channel my "don't plan, experience" mantra, so I'll play it by ear. All I know is that I'll use Uber to go into Charleston for lunch.
One night, while visiting my parents last month, I invited them for cocktails in BOB (as one does). My father stood because he was mad at my mother about something (everything), and he didn't want to sit beside her. My father remarked that if he had a motorhome he would add a third front seat to the cockpit (for my mother, assuming someone else was driving and he was riding shotgun). I had displaced two tubs from the rear storage when I bought my bike. That required them to ride shotgun, which was aesthetically offensive to me. As I shifted my seasonal possessions last month, it occurred to me that an ottoman would solve my storage problem and give me additional seating in the cabin. So, I bought one. The dogs are thrilled, and my father will have a place to sit the next time he and my mother come over for cocktails.
I had planned on leaving today, but Kim and Kate asked me to stay through the election for moral support. They really want me to stay so that they can go with me on Wednesday if Trump wins. We are going to drive to Venezuela because it will seem comparatively less fucked up than the US with President Trump.
A 39 year old woman was critically injured at the Punkin Chunkin yesterday when one of the guns "exploded." Shrapnel hit her in the head. I don't know whether she was part of a team's pit crew or whether she was a spectator. A 56 year old man was also injured, but not critically. The Chunkin was not held in 2014 and 2015 because the landowner was sued by a volunteer "spotter" who flipped his ATV and injured his spine. The case was dismissed, but apparently insuring a different venue proved impossible in the interim. Ironically, I photographed a sign at the Chunkin informing each spectator that his/her ticket purchase per se acknowledged the assumption of all risks of personal injury, and therefore he/she couldn't sue the landowner. I suspect the injured parties will file suits against both the gun owner and the landowner, regardless of the ticket purchase “contract.”
I'm going to move back into BOB tomorrow. I could do it on Wednesday morning, but my OCD-ish-ness is prevailing. The dogs have enjoyed Kim and Kate's house. I typically roll down the windows 10 minutes prior to our arrival on South Bowers Beach, and Jasper starts to whine from the smell of the salt air. I don't let them go in the Delaware Bay because the first time I did they drank the brackish, polluted water, then vomited and had diarrhea. I think what they really like here is having a lot of floor space in which to play, plus the plush chairs in the living room on which they sleep when Kate's not looking. Both dogs will whine when I start moving things out of our suite at Kim and Kate's tomorrow. No matter how much they like a place, they like the place where I am better.
Yesterday, Kim, Kate, their friend Dexter, and I went to the World Championship Punkin' Chunkin' in Bridgeville, Delaware. There were over 100 contraptions - air (pneumatic), catapult, torsion, trebuchet, human-powered, and some combinations thereof – flinging pumpkins thousands of yards. The air guns shoot pumpkins at 500-600 mph, and it is impossible to see them with the naked eye at any point in their trajectories. The mechanical devices, especially the human-powered ones (people on hamster wheels, bicycles, etc.), are more fun to watch because you can actually see the pumpkins leave their chunkers. Unfortunately, you can't see them bounce off the moon or explode when they hit the farmer's field in front of you.
We arrived before 10:00 – unfortunately, in time for one of the founders to sing the National Anthem. To say that she was only pitchy would be overly kind. Granted, it's a difficult song to sing, but when I hear it butchered it makes me feel almost as bad for the country as the prospect of either Clinton or Trump becoming President. She followed with the official “Punkin Chunkin” ballad, the lyrics of which are so awful that perfect pitch couldn't improve them.
As we meandered toward our first launch, a couple started talking to us. Now that I'm well practiced in engaging strangers, I inquired about their residence. When they politely returned the question, I said that I am full-time-RVing. They spent a month in their Class A this summer, and they were in it for the weekend for the Chunkin. I spent 20 minutes talking to them – exchanging RV experiences, while they educated me on how the Chunkin works, where to stand, where to look, etc. I mentioned that I think that people who home school there kids should buy RVs and use the traveling experience to teach US History, geology, cultural anthropology, etc. The couple said they met a 40-something couple from Oklahoma who were doing that: they had two Class A RVs to transport their 15 children. That, isn't home schooling, that's Little House on the Prairie on wheels!
Punkin Chunkin is a stupid white people thing to do. I can say this because the MIT team notwithstanding, Jews, Asians, Hispanics, and black people do not look at food and wonder how to build a machine to hurl it. They cook it. In kitchens. They also don't win Darwin Awards. I asked Dexter if he's ever bothered by being the only black man at an event. He said he no longer notices. I prefaced my question by noting its indelicacy. I am white, and I have rarely been in a situation in which I'm a minority. I can't always walk a mile in other peoples' shoes, but I can always ask them how it feels to walk in theirs.
The road wasn't flooded this morning when I left for the post office and grocery store. When I picked up my package, it was marked "flood." USPS arrived at the beach house shortly after I returned. The employee put two packages by the garage door. I poked my head out of BOB and said hello. I asked her if she ever alters her delivery schedule to accommodate the Murderkill River tide. She said only if she hasn't been able to get down the road for a week. Then she asked if I wanted the mail. I said yes. If I had said no, would she have put it in the box or kept it another day?
My cousin Camilla and her husband Eugene arrived here before noon. I gave them a tour of BOB. Eugene asked so many questions that he could either sell BOB or operate him without further instruction. Eugene loves the road, but Camilla doesn't. I told her that she could sit in the dinette and write which would allow her to ignore the "road." I also told her that the "road" is a lot more interesting west of 100 degrees longitude.
Eugene left us to continue to Maryland to see a friend with a boat. I welcomed him to return to spend the night, but he said he'd promised his friend a night of endless drinking. He said he'd see us for coffee in the morning. Camilla and I adjourned to a luncheon of roasted pepper and tomato soup, arugula salad, and assorted cheese and crackers. I asked her if she'd like some wine, too. She said yes. During lunch, we had twenty simultaneous conversations – some of which we finished and others of which we didn't. After lunch, I ran the dishwasher, and we went for a walk on the beach. The wine made Camilla feel spinny – she consumed it a relatively empty stomach and in a sleep-deprived state – so she adjourned for a nap.
My female dog Addison has all the scruffy cuteness of a stray – a la Benji. Like me, she hasn't had a haircut in three months. Unlike me, she looks adorable. She has curlier and oiler hair than her brother, a greater affinity for dirt, and a propensity to grow dingleberries. (Isn’t she lovely?) Jasper is perhaps the most handsome Westie I have ever seen. He is well-proportioned with straight hair that looks good at any length. On Friday, I'm taking them to Petco in Rehoboth Beach to have them groomed. They will look like puppies once again and my care of them will be easier, but it always makes me a little sad to lose my scruffy girl and pretty long-haired boy.
Yesterday, I sent a FaceBook message about my Google Calendar Election Day formula to a former colleague who shares my Excel geekiness. She reacted with glee, then asked if I was "still" with Trump. She is a diehard Carson supporter who shifted to Trump as the party's candidate. What I told her in the summer of 2015 is that I liked what Trump was doing to stir the pot of 400 candidates for the party’s nomination. To me, he was a potential weed-killer. To me, he was never going to be President. My friend asked who I voted for (because yesterday was Google Election Day), and I said that I had voted against Trump but that I had supported the party down-ticket.
For selfish reasons, I wish Antonin Scalia hadn't died this spring. Ruth Bader Ginsburg lost her friend, but I hope that if it were up to her she'd choose a new colleague who similarly disagreed with her. I don't want a Court solely composed of judges who think that the Constitution is completely fixed or completely flexible. And, if you want to talk to me about politics (or religion, or any subject that can start a war), ask me to argue your position while you argue mine. If we can’t do that, then we should agree to disagree, and proceed to argue about the weather.
Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.