This was started at Assateague Island National Seashore in the Spring of 2018. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I neither finished nor posted it. It needed a little in the middle, so I finished it today, March 6, 2018. Hope you enjoy.
I have a number of places on my Bucket list and the list got one place shorter. I’m at Assateague Island National Seashore. I’ve always heard about the place talked about in mystic manner. The ponies, the ocean, the mosquitoes, so I’m here with my daughter Kitt, and her friend Nina. I drove down ahead of time, and they met me. I registered ahead and as the weather was pretty dismal and most everything was flooded, I asked Mike, the Ranger, if there had been any cancellations. There had, he gave me a list and I looked around. One of them was an ocean near site. Assateague is famous for the mosquitoes, so I opted for the ocean side site. Dumb luck, but an excellent choice none the less. I’ve been to parks that weren’t as large as the site.
The site was one of the few not flooded. The wind was blowing like hell, and there were occasional clouds of spume coming off the ocean. Peanuts, the comic strip, occasionally has a strip where Snoopy is a writer, and invariably his story starts, “It was a dark and stormy night”. Well, the afternoon turned into a really dark and stormy night. We’ve made some improvements to the unit over time, and they really have made a difference. With no hookups at the National Seashore, it was back in; level the RV (We added them out of necessity in 2016. HWH Levelers are excellent. We had them installed at the factory), extend the slide and relax after the drive.
Kitt and Nina showed up at about 8PM, needing dinner, so a quick dinner of hot dogs, sauerkraut, hot dog buns and chips and everyone was happy. Everyone was quickly settled. It’s very nice to spend time in the presence of your children and their friends. It was a horrid night, but I think the rain stopped about 3 AM. In the morning we slept in and found the place pretty flooded. The spot is higher than the others around us so we were fine, but I expect that a trio of campers in the site behind us got little or no sleep.
Breakfast was a NJ Diner breakfast, coffee, OJ, fried eggs, sausage, toast and hash browns. Clean up was quick and in the process of cleaning me up, I discovered a leak in the roof of the RV where the skylight over the shower is. The biggest problem in fixing it is some way to clean the fiber based ceiling. Having an RV is akin to owning a boat. There always is something in need of fixing.
The ladies were up for adventure, so we took a hike to the beach and came across some of Assateague’s Ponies. I would call them mostly Pintos, with an occasional chestnut mixed in. We kept our distance, and I was so intent on watching the ponies that I was swamped by a wave. Wet sandy shorts early in the season are not fun. We hopped back into Nina’s vehicle and further checked out the area. We found and took the dunes hike, which for a time traveled down an old abandoned, weathered blacktopped road constructed in the 1950’s. Developers were of the mind to put in 45,000 houses or so, on the island, but a hurricane in the 1960’s wiped everything out. Ultimately, the island was preserved, so the place doesn’t look like Hatteras.
Both the ladies like the outdoor world, so we took a hike along the road built in the ‘50’s for the massive planned development. The development was stalled, and my walk was interrupted by a call from my sister in Mexico. My nephew was in the hospital and she needed some assistance.
We walked on the beach, saw the ponies, and addressed the family issue, with success and checked out some kayak rentals. The weather was inhospitable for paddling, and I brought equipment for seining, so we started in.
I have two daughters. Before I had children I thought that I really wanted a son. We all make plans when we are immature. My grandfather’s name was Robert, my father’s name was Robert, my name is Robert, and I thought that it would be cool to name a son Robert. None of my great grandfather Kelly’s sons have/had a grandson, except my Dad. My brothers have no sons, as I, so the Kelly line from my great grandfather has come to a close. Not to worry, there are plenty (too many) Kelly’s around. My mistake was thinking from a patriarchal viewpoint. Girls are wonderful, they bring life into the world, they raise children to be positive influences. They tame husbands, and generally make them nicer people. Girls also can do almost anything a man can do. There are some things that I believe women should be smart enough not to do, but that’s a different story.
As a result I raised two girls to confidently stand in their place in the world. They do all the cool girl stuff. They are stunningly beautiful, just like their Mom (thank goodness, not like me). They enjoy looking like beautiful women, with makeup, jewelry, beautiful clothing and nice shoes. They also enjoy looking like a worker. They are not afraid of dirt, or wearing clothes that can be dirtied. They know about mechanical things (Betsy in an engineer), and they love the outdoors. They generally can hold their own, or more, with any man.
I love nature, and passed that love on to my girls. When they were young, we would go to the beach, or an inlet and seine. Seining is taking a long net, with openings about ¼” square and dragging it through the water to see what you can catch. It’s similar to a grab bag. Anything might appear in the net. A seine net was one of the first things I bought for a summer of fun, as soon as I had money; it wasn’t candy, or a model plane to build, it was a seine net. We would set up at the beach; the net is about 20+ feet long and takes two people to use, and start seining. Someone would fill a bucket or make a little pond at water’s edge, and we would seine. Little flounder, pipe fish, blow fish, crabs, hermit crabs, killies, silversides, the list went on. Pretty soon we would attract a crowd of kids and parents waiting to see what surprise would spring from the sea. We were always the center of attention. It was fun, but it was also surprisingly difficult. Squirting water through all those small squares takes effort, but it’s real fun.
While we were seining, Kitt had a conversation with the inevitable on looker that appears when seining is going on. The onlooker was both surprised and pleased that a young woman would be out in the mud, yanking hard on the end of a net to bring in a bunch of fish, just to look at them. Kitt explained that her Dad had taught her how to do this since she was a squirt, and that she thought that it was really fun. The onlooker had nice things to say about stereotypes not being followed. Kitt was pleased that I didn’t ever let gender get in the way of knowledge, and that she was still able to play like a kid with her dad when she was in her 30’s. I was pleased that apparently I led with my heart and checked with my head, and did well for both of us.
I’m of the opinion that you need an occasional ‘camp day’ to relax. Today was that day. It is a beautiful almost summer Sunday with blue skies popping out and an occasional cold breeze off the still winter ocean. I have a lamp on the RV that has been broken for almost the entire time I’ve owned the RV. The parts are in the junk drawer (doesn’t everyone have them?) so the first part of the repair was to locate them. A cleaned kitchen, a cleaned and organized drawer later, I realized that not only the missing part was no longer around, but it was probably the cause of the malfunction of the lamp in the first place. Success! Then there is this. I really haven’t either felt like or felt I had the time to write. I enjoy it. It relaxes me. In fact it relaxed me so much I heeded the call for a nap, something I’ve rarely had the time or mind to do. I recommend an occasional afternoon nap.
All in all, Assateague is a lovely place, especially I the mid spring and in the absence of mosquitoes. I’m sure that mid summer, with the population of Washington DC and the surrounding country, this place looks like a version of Woodstock, and is REALLY hot, but for now, it’s on the list for a nice weekend away next year.