Friday, June 28, 2019

Our RV Adventure, Day 4: Celebrate with Joy

(To start from the beginning, see Our RV Adventure: Introduction.)

Saturday, May 4, West Chester, Pennsylvania  

Cathleen wakes up at 5:22 am in response to the cats jumping and moving about restlessly. I was able to sleep through that, but not through her making them and herself breakfast. I go to the bathroom and flush a chemical pod down to the black water holding tank, which I forgot to do yesterday.

At 7, Cathleen says “I'm tired.” I say, “me too.” She says “You have to watch the cats. It’s your turn.” I complain about needing sleep too. We both fall asleep until 10.

Lots of beautiful bird songs in this campground, which is very rustic. Blue jays, cardinals, robins, sparrows, and many I don’t recognize.

Unhooking the RV is fairly quick. Flushing the black, then gray water tanks is almost fun! The order is important, by the way. Filling the freshwater tank was faster than I thought, to overflowing. Checkout is at noon, but I had thought it was 11. We actually check out at 12:30. I text Liam that checkout was 12, not 11. “Wasn’t that half an hour ago?” he asks. Ha ha. We stop at Target for bottled water, and I use the bathroom. We get to Liam’s at almost 2:00.

Hello, Joy! We greet Joy, who we met at graduation last May with her family, including parents, siblings, aunt, and grandparents. We liked all of them a lot. Joy also visited us from St. Louis last summer. They were both gymnasts in college and have been a couple since Valentine’s Day 2018. It has been a long-distance relationship since graduation.

We unload and reassemble the bike, put the cats in their strollers, and set them up in Liam’s apartment, as surreptitiously as we can.

The four humans eat a late brunch in town. I am tempted to get the French Toast BLT, but opt for a normal breakfast. We share jalapeno hush puppies. Liam treats us. My boy is all grown up!

After checking on the cats, we go to Tyler Arboretum. Liam is drawn to the tree house exhibit. In the "crooked goblin shack," Joy says it is very loud. And there are a lot of bees. Cathleen says they are the territorial Carpenter Bees, and to walk out slowly. Catastrophe is averted.

Kier, Joy, Liam, and Cathleen in front of the Crooked Goblin Shack
Kier, Joy, Liam, and Cathleen in front of the Crooked Goblin Shack.
We photograph Liam and Joy under a canopy of lilacs that Cathleen says looks like a chuppah. Joy gets the remark, but Liam not immediately.
Joy and Liam in the Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania.     Kier and Cathleen and lilacs
Joy and Liam in the Tyler Arboretum. Kier & Cathleen copy them, emphasizing the lilacs.
Our favorite tree house is probably the one built like a giant Gibson acoustic guitar.
Gibson guitar themed treehouse in the Tyler Arboretum. The head with the tuning pegs is on the left.
Gibson guitar themed tree house in the Tyler Arboretum. The head with the tuning pegs is on the left. 
Cathleen gets tired of all the walking. We should probably leave anyway because we are expected in DC tonight.

Cathleen in her birdhouse.
Cathleen in her birdhouse. 
We go back to Liam’s, get the cats, hug our hugs, say our goodbyes, and leave for DC. It is about 6 pm. My sister texts me, asking for an ETA, suggesting that we use something with GPS. I consider asking what GPS is or whether there’s an app for that but keep it to myself. Google Maps is most effective as a real-time traffic reporter and re-router. However, its time estimates assume that you are going at least the speed limit and not stopping. We are definitely not driving as fast as we would in a car, and we’re stopping more often. Things keep happening. Cathleen has decided that we should double the Google Maps time, based on our first two days driving. I think that’s a bit overstated.

We are only in Delaware for 21 miles, but we make a gas stop there. I overhear some motorcyclists joking a few pumps over. I can’t hear what they’re saying.

A few miles later, on I-95, as we drive a wide descending curve at 65 mph or so, a group of motorcyclists on smaller Japanese bikes, not Harleys, weave in and out of traffic heedlessly speeding, and rather recklessly. I’m sure that the group includes those from the gas station. They have red Spider-man logos on their black leather jackets.

As we approach Baltimore, we know that the two tunnels under the harbor do not allow vehicles with propane on board. A Good Sam campground directory advised using the Francis Scott Key bridge. As we approach it, we see are occasional warning signs for motorcycles that the bridge has open joints. For us, we get a sign saying, “All Vehicles over 5T GVW Must Use Right Lane.” Our RV is more then twice that weight. It seems pretty steep from the northern approach. Later, I find that it is 185 feet high. 
(See for more information.) It’s a little unnerving to look over the side. We survive. So far, that is our goal. 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge over Baltimore Harbor.
The Francis Scott Key Bridge over Baltimore Harbor. 
Shortly thereafter, perhaps due to vibrations while crossing the bridge, something falls with a loud bang inside the RV. Cathleen gets up and finds the offending object. It’s a heavy piece of metal pipe, about 6” long and a half-inch in diameter. Cathleen is afraid that it might be part of the stove and wants to be sure I closed off the propane. Safety dictates closing the propane when driving, but apparently people often leave it on for heat or refrigeration. We have been closing it off when we drive.

We pull over at a rest stop to investigate. First, I get out and verify that the propane valve is shut. We look around, in, and under the oven for missing parts, but find nothing. We do see an old un-popped Jiffy Pop pan stuck behind a drawer. I turn around and notice that the TV that is mounted above the cab-overhead bunk has fallen onto the mattress, face down. The “pipe” is actually a large hinge-like part of the swivel TV stand which has somehow fallen apart. It could have been worse. The way the bunk folds over when driving has and will prevent the TV from sliding around on the mattress. It seems to be missing a small part or two, but we’re not interested in remounting it now. We get back on the road. There goes our ETA.

It’s May 4, so the Maryland Department of Transportation tried a “humorous” PSA on an LED sign:
We had hoped to get to my mother’s house in the evening, but it’s almost 10. My brother and his son are there. Our nephew, now 13, is already taller than he was Christmas. His T-shirt says: “National Sarcasm Society: Like We Need Your Support.” He tells us about the geological layers of Earth and how some scientists want to drill into Hawaii, which is well-known to have volcanoes. He does not approve.

I warm up leftovers from the RV for us. Nathan has brought cinnamon rolls for dessert. 

My sister Mardi and Alberto arrive with their daughter, 11, who has trouble staying awake, having just returned from a class trip to King’s Dominion amusement park. She seems to sleep with one eye open for a while.

We bring them up to date on our adventure thus far. My mother is clearly tired, as are we, so we go to our bedroom on wheels before midnight.

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