Welcome back and happy 2016 everyone! It has been a 6 week holiday hiatus from the blog - have you been as busy as we have?! In the meantime, we have loved spending Christmas time with my parents & sister on the gulf side of FL, then meandering across to the Atlantic side to see some of J’s family. On New Years day we found out that our friend John Nelson passed away in Singapore. In the early hours of Christmas Eve, Nels stepped in to protect a female friend who was getting punched by some Malay guys. He sustained a head injury and after 1 week in the ICU, he slipped away. It’s been a really sad time for our waterski & stunt show fam… Nels loved to travel, and he could’ve filled a book with the cool places he’s been. So I dedicate this humble, rambling tale today to him.
So where did J leave off in our tales? I think we had just arrived to Ocean City, MD. I was so excited because we had decided to have our first “Hotel Holiday”. One night of blissfully large beds and hot showers booked with our United Airlines Miles, at The Dunes Manor Hotel. The Dunes was right on the beach, and the main strip of Ocean City. They kindly let us check in at 11am and gave us a room on the top floor looking out at the beach. We enjoyed the beautiful beach views for a few excited minutes, before heading back to the truck. We were meeting Ron, one of the owners of Walk On Water SUP, also the man behind Evolve SUPs. Through Instagram, I’d gotten a big crush on their yoga board. The deck was a bamboo veneer, with pink or teal rails, lime accents, and best of all, an all-natural cork deckpad. Completely obsessed! And Ron was kind enough to sit down with me and tell me all about it. We hung out at the shop for a couple hours. I think J really enjoyed hearing about how the boards are designed, their composition, and what that meant for performance. Ron is local to Ocean City area and it sounds like he has lived in the Atlantic his whole life. A surfer, shop owner, and SUP designer he was a real wealth of knowledge. And interestingly enough, the cork deckpads are made by Yoloha Yoga - a company (also from Ocean City) that makes beautifully printed cork yoga mats. They are seriously a work of art - another of my IG-yoga-crushes! Check @yolohayoga on IG if you wanna oogle for yourself. After mentally adding the Evolve SUP Yoga board to my wish-list, Ron asked us if we wanted to go for a paddle. Of course we said yes, but not before having one of the best lunches of our trip from a vibrant Peruvian restaurant Ron sent us to. We then met him at his place on the water in Berlin, a little ways out of Ocean City. There was some wind to contend with, but exploring by water is always a good time. We had fun dipping the SUPs into little inlets, and looking at the waterfront homes & boats. And I couldn’t resist doing some yoga… In the name of market research of course!
|On the Evolve SUP Yoga board, Ocean City, MD|
We got back to the Dunes at happy hour, and J headed to the bar, while I went upstairs to put on some jeans and freshen up. I met him afterwards, and had a glass of wine. When happy hour ended at 7pm, we were chatting with a woman our parents age. Her husband was next to her, talking with a man next to him. He had been a professor, they had lived all over the U.S. They had 4 grown children, and grandchildren. Their house was just down the road from the Dunes, and I assumed they came for this happy hour often - they were on a first name basis with everyone. She talked wistfully about how they met (in college), and told us about the different places they had lived and moved to over the years.Turns out he has Alzheimers now, and it seems to be progressing rapidly. I understand that this is life, and these things happen sometimes… but it is still saddening to hear that he had only just retired before his diagnosis. Their plans for this part of their lives suddenly crumpled and ruined. The resignation in her voice as she reminds him one more time the name of the friend he is talking to. They paid their tab and made their way out through the lobby… and I am grateful for the fun and traveling J and I are doing. Enjoying now… This moment is really all that we certainly have.
|One of the famous wild ponies on Assateague Island, MD|
In the morning we ask ask for a late check out. I trim my bangs. Take a really long shower. We go out to Rhonda to make breakfast - this probably sounds really weird of us. But we have really nice dark coffee, and organic bread. Pasture-raised “happy” eggs. Organic greek yogurt, and farmer’s market honey. Breakfast is sort of our thing, and we like “our” stuff! Back in the hotel we lounge around some more before packing up and checking out. We are booked for the night in the state park on nearby Assateague Island. Assateague is famous for it’s wild horses. We hear that in summer they herd them all together and the horses swim from Assateague to the next island. That would be a sight! Anyways, we pull in and find our spot after 3 (one way) loops around the place. We are on the ocean-side of the park, and right on the beach. There are only a handful of other RVs in the whole park, and none near us. It’s such a great time to travel! A lot of these places would be so busy in-season that it would take away from their beauty (and our enjoyment). We had our eyes peeled for the famous horses, but hadn’t seen any yet. From the amount of “evidence” everywhere you would’ve thought they’d be easier to spot! Lets just say that J’s new Sanuks did not escape unsullied.
|Rhonda loving the sunrise on Assateague Island, MD|
We had a very chill afternoon - trying to catch up on the blog, I was writing about Massachusetts. After the sun set, we decided to pop into Burley Oak, a brewery in Berlin (outside Ocean City) that Ron had recommended the day before. On the way out we spot two wild horses on the side of the road. I make J pull over, so I can hop out for a pic (from a safe distance). They are ruggedly shaggy, and for a horse, they look pretty cuddly. Arriving at the brewery, walking into the taproom, it’s a great big industrial looking place with high ceilings, concrete floors, and a long wooden bar. It has some standing barrels, dark, chunky leather couches, thick & low oak coffee tables, darts, a pool table, and a merchandise corner. It is dog-friendly and I’ve already spotted a cute chocolate lab at the end of the bar I’m dying to meet. We order some beers, pick a leather couch, and I open up my laptop to wrap up the post. I get J to read it, and help check-double-check facts and dates - that Massachusetts post was very history-heavy! We mock up a timeline on some paper towel with a sharpie - this unexpectedly turned into a pretty fun pub-project and a perfect way to synthesize our MA stops in one place. It also made for a fun & creative header pic for the blog! I love taking pics and the creative part of the social media and blogging - my phone has a daunting 7000 pics on it (covering my eyes shamefully)! Back at Rhonda that night, probably eating soup for dinner, we made plans to see the sunrise. At dawn we layered on some clothes before heading over the sand dune. The wind was whipping and crisp, but the sky was pretty clear and we set up to film and capture the start of the day. I am no sunrise expert, but this was just magical. Each moment more beautiful than the last. Back to Rhonda we put up the solar panels, and headed inside to make some breakfast. Eventually packed up, we hoped that the “bayside” of Assateague might be calm enough for a paddle. We drove to two possible launch-spots with no luck, and decided to walk a few of the nature trails instead. It is a beautiful area, with a neat mix of forest, marshland, and beach. We decide it’s time to get a move-on. Our plans is for 2-3 days in Virginia Beach. Our drive will take us to the point of Assateague Island, where we cross into Virginia, and down the Delmarva Peninsula. Then we will take the impressive Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel 37kms over and under the Chesapeake Bay. To quote wikipedia - “The bridge-tunnel originally combined 19kms of trestle, two 1.6km long tunnels, four artificial islands, four high-level bridges, appox. 3.2kms of causeway, and 8.9kms of approach roads” - what a mouthful! Essentially you go over 3 bridges, and through 2 underwater tunnels (bridge-tunnel-bridge-tunnel-bridge) before landing in Virginia Beach. This impressively allows road traffic to cross the Chesapeake Bay, while allowing boat traffic & shipping channels to remain open. Clever, clever.
With no real plans in Virginia Beach, we were winging it for the night. After a fair bit of driving up and down the deserted main drag, we found a parking lot at the docks for ~10$ a night. Turns out a local favorite restaurant is right next door. It is packed, but we manage to sneak 2 spots at the bar for some yummy fresh seafood. I never seem to fully relax the nights we boondocks in parking lots. Always getting up to check the SUPs are still on the truck, I feel vulnerable and wake up a lot. I gave up wrestling with sleep at dawn and rolled out my yoga mat on the dock to do yoga as the sun came up. Back in Rhonda, we decided we would push further south later today. Virginia Beach felt much like Ocean City and both kind of reminded me of Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast - probably uncomfortably hustling & bustling during peak season and with the hard influx of tourists the main strips are a tacky collection of gift shops, restaurants, and bars, all lacking any real personality or flavor. We are sure there must be some nice surrounding areas, but without recommendations, we were at a loss for their discovery at this point in time. But we did find a rad cafe that had a big garden space to grow some of their veggies in. Eventually, Rhonda in their parking lot turned out to be a problem, so we wrapped up and pulled into a large vacant parking lot down the road to make our “North Carolina” plan.
Sitting in the truck, windows down, computer out…. and doesn’t a man approach us and ask “Do you like crabs? Cause I caught a whole bunch! I’m Carleton, what’s your names?” Now we weren’t hungry, Carleton was possibly homeless, and it was apparent that he wanted us to buy these crabs. We were politely saying “Nah, thanks man”. But he persisted and said “You got a kitchen in there, right?” pointing at Rhonda. “Cause I could cook ‘em in there, and leave you some. Like a a barter!” …More awkward “Umms” on our behalf… Then he said “But I am so hungry, and it would really help me out”. Well next thing you know, we are steaming crabs in Rhonda. Our precious 15 foot camper fills with the overwhelming smell only cooking seafood can create. And I’m none too happy about it! Clambering over our bikes to open any window I can reach. Pedestrians are now commenting on the smell as they pass on the side walk some 30 feet away… Carleton casually crosses the parking lot to talk to a lady with a baby stroller…. and then we lose sight of him all together. The crabs are very “done”, and I’m getting irate… “What if he doesn’t come back? Where the heck is he???!!!”. We decided to double bag the crabs and leave them for him with a note saying how rude it was to just piss off on us while we tried to help him out. I’m about two lines into said note, when Carleton come bounding back across the parking lot. Carrying a huge box. My first thought was he thinks he’s moving in with us LOL, won’t that be cozy! Turns out the box was full of packaged white collared shirts, toothpaste & deodorant packets, blankets, bars of soap… He wants us to take a few of everything - and he is pushing each item into Rhonda after presenting how “awesome” it was. We are pleading - “Thanks man, but we don’t need it”, “we don’t have room for extra stuff”, “someone else needs this more than us ”. Nothing slowed him down. My frustration peaked and my politeness promptly vanished: “WE DON’T WANT ANY OF IT” I said angrily. At which point he replied “The women!!! They always get crazy”. Grrr! I was so mad!!! We quickly pulled away, with all of Rhonda’s windows open - not caring! A few blocks away we pulled over to close up properly. So much for our good deed of the day, smh.
That evening we rolled Rhonda over the North Carolina border….. We had a lot to see and the countdown to Thanksgiving in Wilmington, NC had ticked down to T-4 days already… To have more time I would’ve loved to explore more around the VA/NC border - seems like there are loads of lakes that way… But that will have to be another time!
Thanks again for reading!