The Working Waterfront

Road-trip characters are part of the fun

Third VW trip begins with foray into Virginia

Phil Crossman
Posted 2018-11-14
Last Modified 2018-11-14

This is our third trip in Poppy, our 2003 VW Eurovan Camper, a marvelously engineered 18-foot marital and domestic testing ground. During the first trip two people who spent over a month in such close proximity that if one burped the other asked to be excused, made 42-inches by 72-inches seem room enough to sleep together for 42 nights.

During the second trip, across Canada and down into the Badlands and then to Wyoming, we agreed that “Love you, sweetie” and “Get out of the way” were each terms of endearment. 

We visited friends in upstate New York and then almost settled down to travel on Columbus Day. Almost. All electronics were unresponsive, and the driver’s door wouldn’t open from the outside, only from inside. When that door was opened and shut again, the electronics came back on. 

We took the door apart and concluded there was something amiss in the door’s electronic innards. Meanwhile, till we found someone who knew more about it, we couldn’t use the driver’s door—big deal. 

We headed off for Virginia and about nine hours later found ourselves at the singularly appealing Gooney Creek campground, a private facility that was home to and run by Pam, a skinny, chain-smoking, sweet woman and her 91- year-old and similarly funky mother.

Elaine had called from the road, having found Gooney Creek described positively online, and spoken with Pam who asked our names and what we were driving.  

“Oh, I love those things. I have just the site for you.”  

Google Maps led us, a little later, to hand-scrawled road signs leading us down under an overpass—seemed very unlikely—and found Pam and her Mom comfortably and fittingly ensconced amidst the kind of chaos that attends someone whose entire life is or could be one big yard sale.

Most campgrounds have camp stores, some quite well stocked. And just beyond the clutter was a vertical sign that read OPEN. Pam recognized our rig right away and called out joyously, “Elaine, Elaine!!” as she struggled to her feet from a chair that was embedded in stuff and had been for a while.

Her welcome was uncommonly enthusiastic, then she jumped on her little John Deere mower and led us to a terrific site next to a wonderfully noisy stream, one that we later learned flooded the entire campground and the women’s own home quite routinely. Pam went from one side of Poppy to the other with the leveling app on her iPhone to be sure we were perfectly situated. 

The campground was jumping, literally, with kids, last day of Columbus Day Weekend. After we settled in I went back to the OPEN sign to see about getting some ice and maybe a beer. Pam and Mom were no longer in their chairs.

I went inside and there was Mom, sitting amidst an extension of the same clutter but watching TV and feeding herself from a plate in her lap. I said “Hi,” and then moved on into another room that I assumed was the customary store.

“Here, here!” cautioned Mom, “Where are you going?”

“To the store?” I answered quizzically.

“That ain’t no store, that’s private space.”

I apologized and headed for a really big dual-door refrigerator figuring this is surely where they keep milk, eggs, butter and beer. I pulled open the door just as she struggled to her feet to object. If she’d been younger, I’d have been hurting.

I apologized again, profusely this time, and bolted for the door.  

This, though, was a terrific and fun site, providing one wasn’t too fussy about the cleanliness of facilities which we, for one night, were not. Pam blew us kisses when we left in the morning. She promised to visit Vinalhaven. I hope so. She’ll fit right in.

Phil and Elaine Crossman live on Vinalhaven, where Phil owns and operates the Tidewater Motel.