the van with the ocean behind her

The view is impressive when there are no cars passing by.

I’m not much of a fan of van pictures—I love Serenity, but I’m not enough of a van worshipper to find her particularly photogenic—but this photo so perfectly summed up this park for me that I couldn’t resist.

I am one of two campers on an empty line of grass facing the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a busy road that you can’t really see between me and the water, with cars going by every few minutes, and ugly electric lines overhead, and despite the descriptions in the campground’s online info, it’s definitely not beachfront, because there’s no beach there, just ocean. Lots of ocean.

But this morning I watched the sun start to rise over the water from Serenity’s window, with Zelda snuggled up next to me. Of course she was snuggled because she was trying to tell me that it was time to get moving. When I eventually obliged, we had a lovely walk along the road and water. The water is so much quieter than it was on Dauphin Island, just lapping against the concrete, and beautifully still in places. Still a ton of birds, including a pelican that flew really close overhead, and lots of little darting birds. I should really find a bird app and try to learn what some of these birds are. I’m spending a lot of time watching them.

The bugs here are also quite impressive, although much less appealing. Last night I was sitting in Serenity with the windows open, watching the mosquitoes land on the screen next to me. It was seriously creepy. In a space maybe two feet square, there were probably fifteen mosquitoes clinging to the netting. Walking the dogs this morning, I felt like I was in an ocean of gnats, far too many of which then came inside with me. I’ve been swatting at them every couple of minutes, driving Z bonkers. She does not understand what I’m doing but she does not think it is good. Fortunately, I’m managing to reduce the number, one squashed bug at a time. If they were small enough to get in through the screens, I would be very sad. Well, and probably changing my mind about staying here, despite the incredible ocean view.

Yesterday I stopped at a really nice grocery store, Rouses Market, and wound up with a thoroughly impractically stocked fridge. For dinner, I had celery with crawfish dip, because how could I resist crawfish dip? (Followed by mixed greens, topped with pear, pecan,  & a very delicious blue cheese.) Tonight I will be having cajun-stuffed mushrooms and asparagus. I also have olives, marinated mushrooms, two more cheeses—a goat Gouda and a Scottish cheddar—and gluten-free crackers. Apparently I intend to eat nothing but appetizers and salads for the next couple days.

I also did all my laundry. This campground has four washers, for over 200 campsites. On a Wednesday afternoon in midwinter, people were having to wait their turns to get to the washers. I can’t imagine what it’s like in high season. Fortunately, all of my clothes and sheets are now clean, so I don’t have to worry about it. Or they were clean. I had one night of lovely clean sheets and this morning Z came back from our walk, hopped up on the bed, and shook, getting sand everywhere. There is no winning the keeping-clean game in a camper with dogs, but so it goes.

By the time I’d gotten everything packed up yesterday, checked out of the last campground, headed into Mississippi, hit traffic delays, did my grocery shopping and laundry, walked the dogs, and settled into my new campsite, it was late afternoon. I spent a little while doing a jigsaw puzzle and watching the sunset, then fed the dogs and ate some dinner. Then and only then, did I settle down to try to write my 1000 words.

I knew it was going to go badly. I was tired and so un-inclined to do the work. I didn’t remotely have the energy to even think about what was supposed to happen next in Grace. But two of my writing group friends and I are writing short stories together—writing motivation!—and this week’s assignment, decided on Tuesday, was to write a “romance short story.”  (Last week’s assignment was a horror short story and that was fun: I’ve never even contemplated writing horror, but I think I got it right.) So yeah, yesterday—sitting down to write with no motivation, knowing that it wasn’t going to go well, turned into 1600 words of romantic short story that I think is really fun. I’m definitely working on Grace today—that’s my big goal for the today—but I think I’m going to try to finish this little story first.