Thursday, February 4, 2021

Van's Night Out

Last week the moon was waxing full and I was home alone Friday. Obviously I should take the van and go see what I could see. Obviously I wasn't really alone as Rusty wanted to come too. Layne was in Miami Friday night so I was in charge of the outing. Obviously we weren't going to eat well but the views should compensate.
Since Hurricane Irma swept this area in 2017 the state has brought in a bunch of money and rebuilt the support for Highway One with some rip rap also thrown behind the seawall. Accidentally they built a dirt roadway which has allowed vehicles to crawl around the edge of seafront, at least for now. 

The camera smoothes out the gravel surface which is very bouncy in a five ton van on a road surface with rocks, potholes and as rough a surface as you like. But at walking speed the lumbering van will get there, a private spot right under the roadway and right above the water. 

It makes me laugh to see myself posting a photo of waterfront location worthy of Instagram posing. The fact is there aren't many waterfront spots in these islands thanks in large part to the marshy nature of land which reaches the very edge of the water most places. Mangroves aren't really fit to be walked along or certainly driven over so the Keys are really suitable for edge of the water parking. Funny that isn't it?
Fishing is why people hang out on bridges and in parking lots and unfortunately it feels as though there aren't enough trash cans in the keys (and there are a great many!) to contain the garbage. Parking my van means parking my home which comes equipped with tanks and bags to store liquid and solid waste and I like to leave no sign we were there, wherever it is. I failed this time as I kicked over Rusty's left over kibbles in the dark and scattered them in the gravel. Ant heaven it turned out and a nest of them got busy removing the unexpected bounty.  It was heavenly for Rusty too, as the moon was up and the landscape was illuminated all night. After a week at work I fell asleep at 7:30 and work up completely refreshed at 3:30 (!). I sat in the doorway and Rusty sat outside watching and listening. It was perfect, even though the phone image is a little bit crusty!
When I woke for the last time in the morning Rusty was ready so off we went, familiar walks in an unusual format. I live here! I'm van camping here! Confusing. Rusty knew what needed to be done:
My idea is to make van travel fun and so far he seems to be getting used to the idea of sleeping in a box, even though he gets really excited every time we get home. I like having my life right there, a box filled with water and electricity and all the bits and pieces for comfortable living. Webb the spartan sailor thinks the van is a bit crowded inside with stuff. He has a point but three of us reside in the box and we all have needs (one is a woman, nuff sed).
It was a good morning with nothing much to do except pull out the electric toothbrush, boil a kettle and put Weetabix in a bowl. Just like I was at home. Well, we were at home so I pulled out the morning papers and swiveled the driver's seat while Rusty sat outside digesting his breakfast.
I wasn't going to get away without another walk, that I knew, but first I had some reading to catch up on. Leaving the bed made up was easy and comfortable as a day couch. With the doors open a pleasant cool breeze blew through and pretty soon Rusty was curled up in his bed on my bed next to me. I have been reading the biography of James Beard, the original food guy. I was curious where the current food fads came from and Julia Child wasn't alone in her efforts to create cooking awareness. James Beard it turns out was a complicated character, driven by being gay in a very straight world and fearful of being uncovered. He was run over by his own gay scandal as a young man at university and that trauma played a central role in his unhappiness and inner turmoil. The US was not gay friendly in the 1950s. However what I do find interesting is how he inserted himself into the food culture and found his way by being determined to have a voice after failing at opera performance and stage acting. It was a slow start to the book plodding through his formative childhood but the story is picking up the pace as we pass World War Two and beard starts to get recognition. I enjoyed my Kindle to the sonorous rasp of a dog snoring.
When the hound from hell woke up he made it clear he was more important than James Beard so off we went. I confess I left the phone in the van and set off with bag, leash, camera and nothing else.
There were a few cell phones about taking pictures, and some fishing poles with humans attached but we managed to weave our private way to the top of the hill and looked down on the water and Bahia Honda State Park in the background, where the campers are packed tight and reservations far in advance are required:
I mentioned I left my phone in the van so I had nothing to write with when I met these bandits. I was beetling to the trash cans to discreetly dump Rusty's latest dog egg when my Carolina Dog was hailed by name. Oops. I had nowhere to write down names but indeed I did recall meeting on Duval well before the pandemic when faces were uncovered. I wasn't wearing a mask but we stayed well apart and I congratulated them on moving to the Keys from upstate New York. 
Rusty needed to keep moving, of course, and I was aware that my wife was heading home about now and probably expected me to answer the machine that must never be left behind. So we walked back to the box  in good order and got on the road to home twenty whole minutes away.
I could have stayed all day. I really like hanging out in and around the van even though I have a perfectly good house to enjoy. Odd that.
70 square feet of bliss. Is that possible?