Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Day Tripping

It was my wife what dreamed it up so after work we piled ourselves and the always reluctant dog (Rusty hates  the van) into the Promaster along with a picnic dinner and drove twenty minutes from home to Sammy Creek on Sugarloaf Key.
Layne organized dinner, a salad followed by a bowl of indian curry from a  long life bag. We are experimenting with foods that are easy to cook and will last a long time in storage and are also relatively good to eat. I think this one was a Tasty Bite package and if I recall they are supposed to last four years. The idea is to have something to eat if we get caught out on the road. This one passed the test. I hope she remembers what it was as I haven't a clue.
We all three walked to the waterfront to see what sort of a sunset we had in store but either we were early or the sun was shy because my wife gave it up for a bad job and Rusty dragged me to the top of the bridge overlooking Sammy Creek, a tidal waterway between mangroves. The sun woke up and jet skis passed under the bridge, I got my photo and Rusty spotted a racoon. All was well with the world aside from a  positive plague of mosquitoes no see'ums and horse flies that descended on us all at once. My wife was smart to be inside the van preparing dinner.
I think Rusty had to kill and eat things before we got him but he's decidedly domesticated now and he trotted down to where the racoon disappeared and sniffed around the bushes for a few seconds before remembering his domestic dinner waiting for him in the hated van. I'm not sure why he hates the van so much, perhaps for his sensitive ears it is a noisy box that moves around too much but whatever it is we are on a  course of attitude adjustment with our dog of fixed habits. Part of our adjustment is to try to be less stressed when we tangle things up as I fear sensitive Rusty absorbs those lessons too. So in that spirit my wife suggested I take the van to walk Rusty and have nothing more than fun with him. I persuaded him into the van before dawn and took off for awesome sunrise spotting.

My destination on this short trip was Veterans Memorial Park near the Seven Mile Bridge, a twenty minute drive from home. We were alone until a solitary angler drove in and walked off up the beach and cast his line from some bushes far away. I took some pictures of what was developing into a lovely morning while Rusty inspected the premises.

There used to be a Cuban Chug which came up on the beach and was formally incorporated into the park. Then Hurricane Irma blew through in 2017 and the Cuban Refugee Raft disappeared. So for new visitors there just is a mysterious space at the east end of the park.

It was a lovely peaceful morning even though the Highway reverberated with the sounds of passing vehicles. The Seven Mile Bridge is right there:

It's almost impossible to find a spot in the Keys where traffic can't be heard in these flatlands but no matter which way the wind is blowing the highway is right there, in this case, so noise is inevitable.
Hurricane Irma came through here with 140 mile per hour winds in September 2017 and they have put the parking lot back together along  with the access road but everything else is pretty much still inoperable. Picnic tables and porta potties are your portion if you decide to stop here. Unless you have your facilities in a  van. Ah ha.
It occurred to me as I stood at the water's edge that a swim would be a refreshing thing to do on a morning of increasing heat. And there the van stood complete with a  fresh water tank, a solar shower, towels and best of all, a swimsuit. How d'you like them apples? I liked 'em pretty good.

So I put the camera down and used the van as a changing room. It really is quite versatile. I was feeling peckish so I rooted around in the fridge and shared a cheese stick with Rusty who quite enjoys the bounty of the van's water tank and it's shade, despite his misgivings.

It was a great day for a swim.

My only deadline was to go to the Marathon Publix, pick up some groceries and be home by eleven thirty when my wife gets a break from her distance teaching classroom. There was a scandal in the county this summer when teachers posted pictures of themselves on boats when they were "working from home" so my wife is extra careful to stick rigidly to her schedule. When she has students starting next week I may use the van in the driveway as a refuge from the hullabaloo of online teaching which pervades the house.

I had half filled the solar shower before I swam and  found that to be just enough water to rinse off. As it happens the temperatures are such that water in the van's tank is quite warm enough to shower with and I could have saved myself the extra step by rinsing under the water faucet which is extendable outside the vehicle. Still this was all a learning curve so I figured a few things out as I went along.

Remnants of someone's forgotten camp out.  The chair wasn't even broken:
I had the day off while the commercial fishing crew was at work. Score one to me:
I had fun sitting at the beach with my dog.  It was no epic adventure, just a morning away enjoying a new way of seeing the Keys. I think I'm going to do more of this as it's good for Rusty to have fun from the van and it isn't bad for me either. I had a really good time and I think the little tyke did too.
It's a bit like putting together  a jigsaw puzzle piece by piece, testing the various elements that go to making living out of a van comfortable and easy. I am surprised how different and more complicated in some respects living out of a van is, when compared to the many years I spent living on a  boat. Perhaps I've just forgotten the early struggles but there again I'm older so perhaps this narrow land based mobile living will take more adaptation. I do recommend to anyone thinking of making a radical change in lifestyle, if you have the ability do it one slow step at a  time. Going to the beach for a swim is a good way to start,  I find.