Monday, June 5, 2017

Well, it rained, but I didn’t stay put. I woke up early after an actual full seven or even a bit more than seven hours of sleep. This so very rarely happens that when it does I immediately get full of lunatic optimism and energy. It wasn’t raining this morning and I thought, well, I can get some miles in anyway! I can get to Chincoteague! Or even beyond! And then I thought, Felicity, you are supposed to be an artist and one of the projects you are supposed to be working on is this series of black and white film photographs of the tacky statues that exist primarily at miniature golf courses in worn down tourist meccas. And where is the primo, the chief, the top worn down tourist mecca full of tacky shit in the entire Eastern seaboard? Yes, it’s Ocean City Maryland and if you don’t go there to take pictures you will regret it forever. So I went to Ocean City – I got there at, like, 8:30, an hour at which Ocean City is basically deserted, which is lovely – and parked Moby Hermie (I can’t go on saying Mobe-ISLE HermiTAAAHGE, it’s just too much on every level, so Moby and Hermie it is) and ran up and down about four particularly fertile blocks of Ocean City taking black and white film pictures of fiberglass dinosaurs silhouetted against power lines and cloudy skies and was perfectly happy.

Then I sat down outside a Dunkin Donuts and started to look for a campground nearby to spend the day and night, because the weather was clearly not going to be conducive to traveling. Sure, I know, you’ve driven a semi through 400 mile an hour winds in a sandstorm at the eye of a hurricane and were so unconcerned that you cracked a beer and made a business phone call, but I’m not you and I don’t want to die of anxiety this week. The metal part of the bridge from Ocean City back to the mainland about did me in already and I’m not even going to talk about the part of the 611 roadway that was TILTED. Might have been a 12 degree angle or so! It was horrifying and I’m surprised I lived. I might, you know, be too neurotic for this adventure. Just a thought.

20170605_180137There are surprisingly few campgrounds around Ocean City. I thought there were hundreds: I had this picture in my head of Ocean City as being surrounded by, like, nothing but mile after mile after mile of RV parks. But no. There are only, like, four. One of them is upscale and tasteful: it costs $80 a night. One of them doesn’t do stays of less than a week. One of them is basically in Salisbury. And one of them is Frontier Town, which is the one I decided on. It’s too expensive, although not $80, but, I came here to see tacky, right? OK! Frontier Land! What is it? You got me! It’s a theme park? A sort of lame theme park? With a water slide and as you might have guessed from the name (I didn’t. I watch too much PBS. I was hoping it was a sort of Eastern Shore small version of Colonial Williamsburg. I am an idiot.) some kind of Wilde Weste thing going on. Cowboys! High kickin’ anatomically incorrect ladeeez! Horses! Ice cream! Another gift shop in case you missed the other two gift shops! Amusing wooden signs! You know, everything they had in 1875 Wyoming recreated here in Berlin, Maryland. And, it’s a campground. A big, big campground with activities and lots of kids in golf carts and as I may have mentioned multiple big gift shops where you can buy an extension cord as well as pink feather earrings, a cowboy hat and a flip flop keychain bottle opener. Basic needs, met. It makes me wonder, do they have Sedate East theme parks out west? Like, Effete New York Intellectual Land? Eastern Shore Redneck Shootin’ Gallery?20170605_190029

So I got here just as it began to pour. I set up the camper, went through the by now routine hassles of the electricity not working, the stupid battery alarm going off, the fridge having opened itself at some point en route and spilled everything out onto the floor of the camper – etc. The site is ugh, pretty much – smack dab between the bathrooms – Cowpokes and Cowgals! – and the road in. There’s a deep ditch between me and the road. It was dry when I got here but it’s a thriving little ecosystem of a creek now. With ducks! As the rain kept coming and the ditch started transforming itself into a river, they came walking merrily down the road. They just jumped into the creek so happily. It was sort of like those documentaries you see about desert flowers that only bloom every fifty years – you could see that those ducks had been sitting in the woods for months just waiting for this minute. Maybe years.

IMG_20170605_182350Eventually, I got bored lying in the camper reading and listening to the rain. The camper does not leak, I am happy to say. And it did not get flooded and collapse, unlike the tent next to me. I am really really glad I am not in a tent right now. The tent people do not look happy and I don’t blame them.

There is a bar here – I noted it on the way in; I have a specially developed sixth sense for these things – and so around 5 I stopped trying to pretend to be a Noble Loner Artiste Who Does Not Need Company and walked on down to it.  It was pouring the entire way but it was actually kind of fun.

Hey! This is a good time to trot out my new mantra! It is from a very old Lynda Barry cartoon featuring haiku from one of my all time favorite fictional characters, Beat Poodle Fred Milton and it goes something like this:

Traveler’s nightmare
Becomes hilarious anecdote
Later on.

Yes! I think that is going to have to be the tagline for this entire blog, actually.

SO! I walked down to the Saloon in the pouring rain, taking pictures with my phone of various wet things. Wet sign. Wet road. Wet leaves. Whoo. I passed a few Frontier Land employees all shivering wet and miserable, heading probably for some kind of gulag style Frontier Land accommodations. They were speaking Russian or some other Eastern European language (I am lame and cannot differentiate Russian from Ukrainian from Czech from Polish) and I thought about how in the early 90s all the kids working in Ocean City were Irish and how that works, which country exports a bunch of young people to be bewildered by Ocean City for a summer every year. It must be a crazy kind of culture shock: so this is America, this beachside bastion of tacky. I guess it is, actually, America.

The Saloon had all the charm and ambiance of any interstate rest area Hardees but with liquor, so I didn’t care. The bartender made me a stiff vodka and talked me into food, which I knew was a bad idea and it was. The menu waxed enthusiastic about the crab soup and I went for it – made right here, it boasted – and I’m sure it was, if emptying a can into a pot counts as making it. It was Sysco’s finest (actually I think possibly the potatoes in it came from a different Sysco bag, so, hey, five points for originality) but really, what did I expect? I don’t know why I go into these places expecting. . what? Camaraderie? Surprisingly decent food? There were two wet families with cranky, squabbling children sitting at tables, an old man who kept wandering up and down and me, sitting at the bar. A young couple came in and ordered shots; they said they left their kids with her mother in the trailer to come get a drink. That rain! they said, “It was like mud doggin’ in the golf cart!” I laughed, yes, mud. The young man looked at me, laughing, “What do I care?” he said, “It ain’t my ground I’m tearin’ up! Know what I mean?”

Tomorrow I’m heading all the way down the peninsula and over the long, long bridge. I’m dreading that a bit but not so much as I am dreading then navigating myself around multiple highways and more bridges to Gloucester VA to the Travel Lite dealership. I have high hopes for this one – I called them today and they sounded as if they actually might know what I was talking about. So tomorrow, big scary travel and at the end of it, hopefully, some answers.

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