The Working Waterfront

One more from the road

Dodging storms and scoring scallops

Phil Crossman
Posted 2018-07-24
Last Modified 2018-07-24

The reader will recall that we, in our 2003 Eurovan VW Camper, had thus far avoided camping altogether for the first four nights of our great camping adventure. Day five was no different.

Having spent the night in a Hampton Inn in Fredericksburg, Va., I was up early the next morning, eager to get phase one of this day, of every day, that being coffee in bed for my sweetheart, taken care of. The storm that had been threatening us since day one and which had made camping less appealing than it might have been had dumped some snow in the vicinity but not a lot. On the other hand, it had apparently stalled just to the west and was reconstituting itself for a major assault later that day so we packed up and headed out quickly.

I got the van warmed up and all the temperature and fan controls just the way I wanted them. Elaine joined me in a few minutes and changed them all to create the environment she was comfortable with. Truth be known, given that I am always warm and she is always cold, she makes a real effort to see that the temperature on the driver’s side is cool and comfortable for me and the passenger side is as cozy as she can make it without making me too warm and she monitors that environment and my own comfort, making adjustments as needed throughout the travelling day.

Whereas we’d enjoyed that tranquil and magnificent drive down the Skyline Drive, the travel today was helter shelter straight down 95 in our continuing and relentless effort to stay out of the storm’s way.

We had an uninteresting drive through Virginia and North Carolina, arriving around dusk at a state park on James Island, S.C., Elaine had earlier identified from our guide book. We were finally going to actually spend the night in the camper.

The campground was completely full—spring break—but they had a large empty overflow space for primitive (no water or power hook ups) camping and, having secured that space, we drove around the neighborhood looking for a place to eat. It was dark by now and the road outside was just fast food joints for as far as the eye could see. We were about to resign ourselves to one of these when I glimpsed a sign for what looked like an eatery of sorts peeking above a non-descript and shuttered retail business.

I whipped into a parking lot and saw an inviting façade that read Sermet’s. We stepped inside and were greeted by an uncommonly gregarious host. He chatted a little and showed us to a table and then, although the place was fairly busy, he lingered, leaning on a chair, and engaged us in conversation about where we were from and going, about the restaurant, and about the menu which featured, among a great many other appealing things, scallops that he bragged up in spite of my assuring him that the only real scallops came from Maine.

Determined to prove myself right, I ordered them. They were amazing, so much so, that I called Pete, Vinalhaven’s own legendary diver, at home to bring him up to speed, as if that were possible. Back at the campground we went to the nearby bathhouse, which was neat and clean, a feature we found to be nearly always the case in state parks, and prepared ourselves for our first night in the 42 by 72 inches allotted for sleep.

Phil Crossman lives on Vinalhaven where he owns and operates the Tidewater Motel.