Digging up past adventures is the theme of several recent posts. Today’s is no different. Welcome to Part 4 of our “Summer in a Richmond RV Park” adventure!
Before sharing the story of our trip to Assateague Island, let me start by saying that life in an RV park with Charles (aka: black tooth lithsper) is fascinating. A few days ago, he came zipping down the road on his bike. Dust was flying and rocks were flung in the air has he rounded the corner by our camper. I was watching him, mouth wide open (I’m certain a few bugs flew in), when a truck came careening down the road closely on his tail. I was terrified for the child, certain that this crazy driver must’ve been some irresponsible teen or an intoxicated park resident. Turns out it was his father who was yelling loudly out of the window while trying to chase him down. I spoke with a “long term” gal who lives in the park. She was adamant that Charles wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Kind of like the “Dennis the Mennace” of the campground. Easy for her to laugh; he hasn’t tried to drown HER child.
We needed a getaway, an adventure, something exciting to pull us out of the “RV Park” dull-drums. So last week, while my mother-in-law Sally was still here, we drove to Assateague Island, which is by Chincoteague. If any of you have ever read the Misty of Chincoteague books when you were young then you’ll recognize the names. Wild ponies live on the island and are supposed to have descended from horses that survived sinking Spanish galleons several hundred years ago. Over the years, the ponies have adapted to the harsh environment and the island is now a national refuge.
It took us four hours to get there. We took a few wrong turns, to say the least. In Norfolk, we stopped at a 7-11 because Marah had to potty…and we needed directions… and women know how to ask. The cashier at 7-11 responded very abruptly/nastily/harshly/irritatingly and told me "we don’t have a public restroom but you can drive to a truck stop somewhere down the road and find one" (I wanted to say “no shit Sherlock”). Mind you, Marah is grabbing her crotch and whining. She has this thing with her crotch – has since she was born. I figure it was just one more thing to add to the bugger eating and ways to gross out her mother. It is at this point I will add the all-important disclaimer to prevent future therapy: she does NOT, any longer, currently have a “crotch thing” or “bugger thing” going on. It was only during her younger years. Sigh.
As we walked out of the 7-11, home of the hateful worker, an extremely kind patron who had overheard the conversation said “Come on down to my shop and you can use our restroom!”
She had a hair salon a few doors down so Sally and Brody joined us. While obtaining directions (this was a full service salon, let me tell you), Brody crawled up on the hair cutting chair. Remember the hair cut I had given him in the trailer park with kitchen shears? It was then that I noticed how completely awful it truly was. The bangs in particular were several different lengths.
I figured they let us use the bathroom, so we owed them. In addition, the stylist had flaming red dyed hair, a nose ring, lip ring, multiple tattoos, and this sort of peaceful new wave aura about her. I decided it was a sign…and let’s be honest, you know where this is going.
Ffifteen minutes and $20 later (which included an $8 tip of pure gratitude) Brody walked out with a shining new hair cut.
“What the hell did you do, put a bowl on his head?” was his father’s response when he saw him later that day.
We drove for an entire year but finally made it to the Assateague National Wildlife Refuge. I’m kidding… it only felt like a year. Seriously, it was the longest drive in recorded history. The wild ponies are only on this island and once a year they weed out some of the colts in order to keep the population at 150. We had to take a special tour bus because the area where the ponies live is off limits to all but walkers and it would’ve been an impossible hike with the kids.
Dottie was our tour bus driver. Dottie was about 65 or 70 years old and clearly from New Joysey. Yes, I meant to spell it like that. She had this rough, cackling voice, like she had smoked 3 packs of Lucky Strikes a day since WWII. She was actually quite adorable, at least to most of us.
When any kind of critter moved outside, she pointed it out. Someone tried to eat on the bus and she screamed bloody murder over the loudspeaker “Des NO eatin’ on da bus!!”
When we ran into a group of Amish people riding their bikes out in the horse area, we all knew there would be trouble (who am I kidding; I don't know if they were Amish exactly...or Mennonite...they were just dressed like it...bottom line is they SHOULD have known better!). You see, they would’ve had to drag their bikes under a fence while ignoring the huge “no biking” signs in order to get into this area. Dottie slammed on the brakes so hard we had to pry Brody off of the dash. Then she told them, in no uncertain terms “Des no bikes here, you’s gotta go back! Did’n you see da sign?” Then she called the park ranger, who later met us so that she could head him in the right direction to catch the criminals in the act.
Marah and Brody were given these cute little pins from a woman across from us on the bus. She was from Muskogee, Oklahoma, and had brought a bag of “Okie From Muskogee” pins with her to hand out on their journey. Seriously, we live three hours from Oklahoma but had to travel all the way to the Atlantic Ocean to find “Okie From Muskogee” buttons. I’m linking the song for those of you feeling nostalgic. You are welcome.
Another woman, who was a retired school teacher from Cincinnati, kept making fun of Dottie, which made many of the bus riders more than a little irritated. We all liked Dottie. Every time Dottie would point out an endangered squirrel living in the protection of the refuge, most of the bus would issue a collective "ooh, poor wittle critter" sigh. The retired teacher, however, would loudly mumble “hell, come to my back yard and I’ll show you plenty of them”. Or she’d mutter “Geez, endangered? Why don't you look out the window some time.”
I love being around new people! Don’t you? Just remember, if you ever visit Assateauge Island, take the bus. And don't bring any food, otherwise you'll have to face Dottie. Believe me, you don't want to face Dottie. Just ask the Amish.