Travel Journal 9: Kiptopeke, Goose Creek, and the Last Leg

After our boat tour we finally got to the second half of our trip – the first part was all mountains on the way up – and ahhhh….now the beach on the way down.

We were swimming in Chesapeake Bay – the water was warm and there were hardly any waves, so we mostly bobbed around and played splashing games, and got attacked by crabs under the water (this was actually really scary – they pinch quite hard). There were old boats moored around the swimming area with hundreds of sea birds roosting all over them.

The beach was sandy, and it was nice to dig my feet into some sand after all the rocks. We had lots of fun building sandcastles, and even a sand mermaid.

It was a really short walk to the water from our campsite, so it was easy to wake up, toss on swim wear, put on a hat and sling my bag with water and sunscreen over my shoulder and head down before it got god-awful hot and blindingly sunny.

The next day we were going to head to Goose Creek State Park in North Carolina. We went for a swim, packed up our stuff, and wandered some of the lovely little trails looking for raptors (we didn’t see any, but it wasn’t the right season).

We did find a pair of mating turtles, right in the path. I guess I never thought about how turtles mate! It looks kind of awkward, but admirable how they found a way around the shells. Hopefully we didn’t distract them by taking photos.

We got back in the car and were all set to go, when there was a crisis – my phone’s lock-screen/on button broke. It stayed crunched in and didn’t do anything – which meant we had no way to navigate (no one sells maps anymore, either).

After some fiddling, I switched SIM cards with the really old phone I usually use as a camera. The problem was, this one only had 14% battery and didn’t seem to charge on the car charger. I had to write down all the directions, and turn it off to save power.

It seemed ok until we got off the island, and around Norfolk (apparently pronounced “Nor-fuck” according to Google maps. Seems appropriate) the directions sent us through an expensive toll road. I pulled over and stopped at a deserted city building parking lot and tried to re-navigate, but my phone was down to 2% and died before I could manage. We ended up switching the SIM card into Rose’s phone and getting new directions. Her phone wasn’t charging in the car either, so we had to turn it off too.

We did make it to Goose Creek, NC, even though the directions sent us on a tractor trail through a corn field at one point.

Unfortunately the visitor’s center was shuttered once we arrived. We easily found the RV park, a hostile environment of cement and wild kids on bikes careening Mad Max-style around the loop. After a hunt we discovered the tent camping miles down the road. and with a sign board blocking all car traffic “due to COVID 19”.

We weren’t sure what to think – I was trying to figure out how we could carry all our stuff back to the site – but meanwhile we took the opportunity to plug the phones into an actual outlet we happened to find by the door of the visitor’s center while I cooked dinner in the parking lot.

It was getting late, and the phones were at 60%, so we tried to head to our campsite and found we were locked out. We had to find the host and wait for him to return from his rounds on the golf cart to ask if we could please have the gate unlocked. It was almost dark by then.

The host was really nice and unlocked the gate, gave us the combo, and told us we could move the sign board and drive back to our site. It was dark and the mosquitoes were fierce, and Rose had a fit of temper after refusing to help, and then making Clo scream by taking away the tent poles she was trying to assemble. Everything got up easily though once she went away to sulk in the car.

It was very, very dark and quiet all alone way back in the woods. I missed the sounds of the dogs outside like we have at the farm.

In the middle of the night, it started to rain. When it got light we woke up and saw the water pooling on the top of the rain fly. I looked up the weather – rain here all day for the next 2 days, then rain all day at our next 2 locations. It was 9 hours to drive all the way home.

“I think I felt a drip of water, ” Rose said. I had, too. We waited half an hour until there was a brief pause in the downpour, in which I wrote up directions home, bundled us and all our stuff in the car (I actually had to pick frogs off the dripping wet tent – that’s how wet it was), throw bagels and cream cheese at the girls, and we headed home.

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