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.

Thanks, Mumma.


Unknown said...

Oh boy, I can relate. I hate spiders and I can' t blame your mother from bolting. CA is full of widows, as my grandson calls them.

Bear Naked said...

I would have been right behind her also.
I spent one camping trip sleeping in the front passenger seat of our car.

Bear((( )))

Anonymous said...

CBM was streaking on the first night of the cross-country trip. I love your family stories.

Mental P Mama said...

Well, she did need her rest to help referee all the --fun--ya'll were having.


pjhammer_1965 said...

Arachnophobia (from Greek arachne (αράχνη), "spider" and phobia (φοβία), "fear" ) is a specific phobia, an abnormal fear of spiders and other arachnids. It is among the most common of all phobias.[citation needed]. The reactions of arachnophobics often seem irrational to others (and sometimes to the sufferers themselves). People with arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbor spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobics see a spider they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. In some cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also evoke fear. They may feel humiliated if such episodes happen in the presence of peers or family members.

My parents would never had taken us camping. About as close as we ever came was a cabin in state parks in our beloved Virginia. My Mom and Dad were only afraid of two kinds of snakes, dead ones and alive ones. My brother on the other hand loved all things reptile and me, I fell into the category with Mom and Dad.

Funny story, would love to hear more about the trip...

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ and BN - The thing is, I don't even think it WAS a spider, much less a black widow, but we'll just give her the benefit of the doubt. The thing that got me was it was not safe enough for HER to sleep in the camper, but it was fine for her kids to do so.

Anonymous - I never thought of it that way, but indeed this was the start of streaking and unnatural fears....

MPM - You win! That is absolutely the correct usage of Middle Sister's inane word QWAH. Speaking of Middle Sis - she is due to arrive here in Mathews tonight from Atlanta. Lord help us all.

PJ Hammer 1965 (65 was a great year, btw) - You've just described my mother's fear to a T. I"m going to borrow that hilarious statement about snakes, although honestly I don't mind snakes as long as they aren't curled up in the sleeping bag with me.

If anyone wants to read the first couple of chapters of this story, look in the December archives. I also am brewing up a Chapter 5 which involves a debate between my mother and me on some details about Middle Sister's unfortunate bathroom episode....stay tuned.

Happy Saturday - I hope everyone relaxes and has a Do Nothing Day.

I've officially declared it thus here. QWAH!

Annie said...

ah, yes, family camping holidays. Mum and Dad took us on a couple of driving holidays to see Australia's capital city Canberra, and Sydney and Melbourne.

They were very brave taking the four of us once, and then three of us. I remember there were a lot of heated "discussions" and disagreements as well, as well as a notable couple of incidents with electricity.

One where a power line fell over our car while Mum and us kids were still in it, and also another in a caravan somewhere (Lakes Entrance) with a power cord shorting out in a storm...mmm...I guess they said never again, especially after the time I met a man in the women's toilet !! It didn't worry me at the time, but I do wonder about those things now!! Muma nd Dad must have been freaking out!


Annie said...

ps..sorry ..

Thanks for the visit to my blog...glad you liked the photo of the boat. I actually took that one on my son's camera as I had ambled down to the water without my camera! (silly me) I am so glad I aksed for their camera to take that one now. Isn't it funny how a photo opportunity will just pop out of nowhere and just grab you?

Annie (again)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie - sounds like you have a number of memorable camping stories too! We never had any electrical mishaps - at least not camping- but there were plenty of other fiascos. Yes, I loved that picture...and you're right about stuff-pictures-jumping out at you. Just today, I was driving around here and a particular plant on the side of the road caught my eye, and my daughter said, "Uh oh. Mamma's got that look in her eye again." Meaning the "I have to take a picture" look. I get them often, much to her chagrin. It makes going anywhere much longer than it should take.

pjhammer_1965 said...

Went back and got caught-up. This story is PONF (Pepsi Out Nose Funny)! Can't wait for Chapter 5...

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! Too funny! Our camping experiences have included a late-night visit from a rottweiler (sp?) dragging a VERY large chain, and a thunderstorm that created a river in the middle of our campsite. Needless to say, it's been MANY years since we have been camping:)

Can't wait to get together for our little planning session.....I'm stockpiling wine.

Word Verification: mineses
"That last piece of chocolate is MINESES" Bwahahahaha!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

PJ Hammer - I'm already working on Chapter 5 AND 6. It ain't right.

BHE - Oh, no. It's mines.

abb said...

I'm trying to stop guffawing so I can go to bed.
I can't stop!!

Karen Deborah said...

sounds like a genuine family vacation and very similar to some of our trips. there was the time I got sick, the throwing up and going at the other end at the same time, kind of sick. In a tent. At a lake. Without even moonlight. It was pitch black darkness, maybe it was hell, I don't know where I puked or what I pooped on or if there were spiders or snakes. I just know I was nearly dead in the morning and we packed up and went home. Memorable adventure.
I love purple martin birdhouses.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

TSA- I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's plenty more where this came from.

KD - That is hilarious. Too funny.

Unknown said...

Spiders are scary! Scary enough to abandon your family? I guess so!