A True Vacation

You know the background here: after two weeks in New York, we turned south to Virginia to wait on a couple of doctors—which’ll determine where we’re going next—and this change of plans meant we had no camping reservations for the summer. We were in a pickle.

When my good friend Mary Margaret offered us her family vacation house on the Chesapeake Bay, I thought, “Yes! A place we can stay.” After a few days here, I’m now thinking, “Wow, this is the best place to stay,” like, ever.

Seriously, we were so busy when we got here that it took a few days for the idea of vacation to hit us. We had a long to-do list for the truck and trailer, but once we made a dent in that and we settled ourselves in the house, we started slowing down and looking around, and then we all three sighed one week-long exhalation.

The Beauty of the Bay

I grew up in Virginia, and it seemed like my friends all had places on the Bay, but I’ve never spent time here.

Right now, as I sit on the water’s edge and look out at osprey catching fish and watch the crab pots in a line in the distance, with not a human soul in sight, I believe it’s the most beautiful place on Earth. I realize that’s colored by how I feel right now, but it’s totally valid. Just look at these pictures!

We have spent 12 hours a day here outside or on the screened porch, and I’ve been tempted to sleep out here, too. A pair of great blue herons. Three pairs of bluebirds. A bald eagle mixing it up with the ospreys. A ray swimming by under the dock. Crabs in the shallows. Fireflies at dusk. Bright yellow sunlight at dawn.

The few minutes I have to be inside ain’t bad, either.

I know there are a million ways we could—should—be appreciating this spot. Fishing, crabbing, wandering, eating out, boating. After we did our chores, though, our brains shut down. Sit-by-the-water-and-stare-out-at-it is pretty much all we care to do.

Man, We’re Dirty

I know it sounds nuts that we spent the first four days in paradise doing chores, but parking like this offered a unique opportunity for us. There has been no time in the past four years when we’ve had access to fresh water and a sewer system and good weather and proximity to the trailer, all at the same time. We’ve moochdocked with my friend Heather, but sleeping in this house with the trailer in the driveway makes it so much easier to work on it.

I won’t go on and on about what we cleaned for four days, but I’ll give you an idea how freaking dirty we were. I vacuumed dirt and dog hair from the inside of the ottoman where we store Tupperware. It was gnarly. Tracy got on top of the trailer to clean off the ecosystem that was growing under the solar panels. He’s sanitized the water tank. I seasoned my cast iron skillets. It was cleaning palooza here for a while.

After all of that I got myself out on Fleet’s Bay, which feeds into the Chesapeake here at the house.

I followed the tributaries a bit inland on my kayak and gawked at the colonial-style, oh-so-Virginia homes on the water.

Columns, balconies, giant magnolias, sailboats. Old Virginia, is what it seems to be. I can’t imagine how well these people must know this body of water, generations of knowledge here. (Well, not that house above because that’s newish. But you know what I mean.)

Banjo’s Resistance

Since we moved into the trailer four years ago, Banjo has stayed the night in a couple of AirBnBs and was fine. Her reaction here, though, was different, maybe because it’s larger. Seriously, she was freaked out at first, sticking to us like glue. She followed us around, paced at night, basically stood there looking uncomfortable at all times. When we had to do stuff inside, I put her blanket on the living room floor, and we’d find her sitting on it, like she was saying, “I’m where I’m supposed to be. Now can we go?”

Finally, after the third night, she started sleeping in her bed in the bedroom with us.

She finally got into the swing of vacationing.

My Cançale Kitchen

The only thing we’re missing here is Mary Margaret; she’s at her other most-amazing home in Cançale, France. What her two places have in common is incredible local food, which is MM’s specialty.

If you’re ever in historic, gorgeous Brittany, book a cooking class and meal with MM. You’ll learn about singular Brittany culture, you’ll learn about food, and you’ll have a wonderful time. (Even just her website is an adventure in food and culture and sights.)

P.S. MM and I have been friends since high school, and I tell people she’s the coolest friend I have. She’s also the most gracious: she’s hosted me years’ past when I’ve needed somewhere to stay for emergency niece stuff. She’s hosted me when I had to get my head straight about my divorce. She’s hosted Tracy and me in Cançale, for goodness’ sake. And now she’s hosted the Airstream and our weary selves.

One day I hope to do something comparable for MM, like, oh, give her an organ.

In the meantime, we have one final vacation day here, then a day of packing up. We’re headed to reservations outside of Richmond while we continue to wait on the Mayo Clinic. I’ll let ya know!

11 thoughts to “A True Vacation”

  1. How can you bear to leave? It looks heavenly. That being said maybe you could put in a good word to your friend and we’ll take up where you left off…

    1. I hesitated to even post pictures – I didn’t want to let out this secret! Notice I didn’t specify where. 🙂 Yes, it’s hard to leave. Just knowing a place like this exists is good, though.

    1. Some would say I did the Bay wrong by not catching these crabs from under my feet – where I could see them! But they were local and they were yummy. Soft shells are my favorite foods ever; even when I was a strict vegetarian for 15 years I thought about soft shells.

        1. Dude. To me, they taste like you’re a little kid at the beach, and you’ve spent all day body surfing so that your sinuses and throat and whole body are coated in salty goodness, and you’re slightly sunburned and tired and happy, and you come inside and eat a piece of crunchy toast with delicious butter.

  2. Wonderful post. So glad things on some fronts worked out so beautifully for you all. Hope the streak continues. Also reminds us that we must get out more, but locally! The Eastern shore really is gorgeous.

    1. I think we were on the Northern Neck – all this geographic terminology for the Bay is new to me. But indeed, all of it is gorgeous. Thanks for the wishes!