Saturday, December 27, 2008
Cross Country Trip - Chapter 4
This adorable birdhouse is outside of an old building down New Point near the fire house. It's approximately the size of the VW van the Chesapeake Bay Family took from Virginia to California on a cross-country camping adventure in 1977. In it were packed 2 adults, 3 sisters, no entertainment to speak of and one porta-potty.
The Chesapeake Bay Family left Mathews the summer of 1977 with absolutely no camping experience under their belt, yet pulling a Coleman pop-up camper which was to be their sleeping quarters for the duration of the month-long journey across the country.
The very first night they stopped in Charleston, West Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay Children were very excited to be spending their first night in the camper, and after much ado (meaning after the Chesapeake Bay Children scurried off to the swimming pool, the parents could finally focus on the task at hand) the campsite was ready.
We all sat around the campfire singing koombaya, holding hands, smiling and laughing. OK, so we weren't singing, we were bickering; and we weren't holding hands we were having a fist-fight. Nobody was smiling and there was not one hint of laughter the entire trip. I can dream, can't I?
Darkness fell upon the happy family, and it was time to go to bed. We climbed into the tiny matchbox of a camper and took our spots. Mine happened to be on top of the kitchen table, which converted to a very hard, extremely uncomfortable bed, while everyone else was able to stretch out and luxuriate in the vast expanse of a nice comfy mattress. But I wasn't resentful or anything. No, not me.
Silence. Darkness and silence. More silence. Lots of darkness. And then it happened. No more silence. But still plenty of darkness.
Chesapeake Bay Mother screamed--it was a sound of sheer terror. She tripped over herself and everyone else in the pitch-black dark to fling open the camper door and hurl herself outside.
What was the matter? Nobody could figure it out, and we were none too pleased at the disruption.
Evidently, The Matter was a spider crawling on her, and she somehow determined--even though none of us could see anything--that it wasn't just any spider, but a black widow spider. Yes, of all the possibilities, it most DEFINITELY was a poisonous black widow spider. Right there in the bosom of the Chesapeake Bay Family Vacation.
Well, at least on a bosom. Of one particular Paranoid Family Member.
Chesapeake Bay Mother would not go back into the camper. She insisted on sleeping in the back of the VW bus, and left her three exhausted, traumatized children and one eye-rolling husband in the camper to spend the night with all the other imagined poisonous creepy crawlies.
The spider was poisonous enough to scare her out of the camper and into the car to sleep, yet harmless enough for the rest of her family to sleep inside the infested camper.
In other words, this was one of the first examples of insects or arachnids or fiddler-crab-like entities igniting fear and panic in an otherwise level-headed, reasonably intelligent human being.