For the first three nights of our year-long overland trip to South America we stayed with my in-laws friends – the very generous David and Thao – in Williamsburg, Virginia, and looked like typical tourists – standing in line at amusement parks, over-eating at buffets, and swimming in the hotel pool. Coconut and J had a nice time visiting with my sisters and nephew who came down from New Jersey for a final hug before we turned our bow south. That time finally came on Monday.
Even though we would like to make it all the way to Tierra del Fuego in this year, R and I have planned that we won’t do more than 4 hours of driving on any day and won’t drive consecutive 4 hour days. That might mean we won’t make it to the tip of Argentina, but this trip doesn’t necessarily have to have a destination to be a success. With our paper map spread on the floor of Wesley and our four-hour threshold in mind, we fingered Kerr Lake in Boydton, Virginia, as within range. The GPS confirmed it to be a 2.5 hour drive and once we accounted for Wesley’s more leisurely pace, we pinned it as our target for the day.
R and I met at school in Williamsburg, however, so we before we hit the highway we took a detour down nostalgia way and visited some of our old haunts – including, believe it or not, the school library. After nearly 20 years most of these places remained surprisingly familiar. And of course, because no trip to Williamsburg is complete without a visit to the premium outlets, we made a stop so I could replace my threadbare and musty sneakers that were past due on fixing.
Finally, with the air temperature past the boiling point and knowing that being in our unairconditioned Wesley is only tolerable when we are at cruising speed – 45 miles per hour – we set off for real on our journey – to borrow a term from John Steinbeck – into bumdom.
R had a revelation after a day spent at WaterCountry USA while she was hanging our wrung out swim suits from a line stretched from the front of Wesley to the back (essentially through our kitchen, family room and dining room) that we are actually going to be living in a van for a year – and she realized that made her happy. What a difference this emotion must be if you choose this life compared to if you are forced to live it.
The drive south on Interstate 85 to the John H. Kerr Reservoir was uneventful, but by the time we pulled into campsite # 240 in North Bend Park, we were all ready for a swim. J decided, however, that it would be better if we set up camp first so we would get even more sweaty and then go for a swim. So that’s what we did. J gathered firewood, Coconut pitched her tent, and R made happy noises as she pulled out our dinnerware and bedding. The swim in the lake after this bit of chores was extra refreshing and it wasn’t long before J had made a new friend – Luca – and was running up and down the beach chasing after a Frisbee and living the dream – carefree and happy and not wanting for anything but more of the same.
After the sun went down, and we were reminded the sky actually contains stars and not just planes and light pollution, and with Coconut zipped into her tent and J in the top bunk dreaming whatever dreams almost 10-year old boys dream, R and I enjoyed the lake breeze with the doors on Wesley flung wide open – just like the opportunity in front of us.