Instead of the balmy east coast summer we’d expected halfway through our second circumnavigation of the U.S. we’d endured gales and torrential rain from Maine to Delaware.
After a serendipitous trip to the grocery store for dinner fixings and wine, we found ourselves marooned within half an hour of our return as rain lashed down and filled in a moat around us at the Cape Cod Seashore.
The de-humidifier, my special spaghetti and meatballs and a bottle of red wine kept us from caring too much.
Summer turned to autumn while we were in England and on our return we just caught the end of the leaf show on a trip through the Smokies; only a few tenacious leaves had clung to the trees for us. The rest made a carpet of gold for our drive from Nashville to North Carolina.
The southeast coast was unbearably humid for two people used to the weather of a northerly latitude on a par with Calgary. Thanksgiving in Fort Lauderdale was uncharacteristically muggy, as were the Keys where one felt wrapped in a warm wet cloth each time we stepped from our cool trailer cocoon.
Views from our idyllic but sweaty campsite:
Evenings ‘round the campfire on Long Key, which we felt were compulsory on our sublime beach front setting, became an endurance test. Covered from head to foot and slathered with insect repellant against the sand flies, we steamed as though in a sauna in the stifling night air.
“I don’t think I can stand this!” himself exclaimed on emerging from the air conditioning in full bug-proof regalia.
“I’ve already lit the fire,” I wined.
“This is ridiculous.”
“Go back in then.”
“No. I’m here now.” The seductive flames were already leaping and I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist sitting and staring at them. Our bodies would slowly warm up, become clammy and acclimatize.
Lighting a campfire in the sultry heat of the Keys was ludicrous, but bites and sweat apart, the night sky, the low rumble of the surf and a backdrop of firelight reflected on the ocean was enchanting. Shooting stars, satellites and one sighting of the Hubble were our entertainment,
“There! There!” until the sand flies penetrated our defenses and we dived into the cool depths of the trailer.
From the time it took us to get from Key West to Destin on the Panhandle, the temperature plummeted and in “tropical” Florida the iguanas, torpid with the freeze were dropping out of the trees like they’d been shot. They weren’t dead. Apparently they’d come round and amble off once the weather warmed up.
We shivered through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Tumbleweeds hopped around our fenced in campsite all night at Amarillo, with one giant tumbleweed landing at our door in the morning. Like daft tourists we each posed next to it, shivering, for a photo.
It was at this point that we’d planned to include Nebraska in our tour and see the sandhill cranes at the Rowe Sanctuary on their migration north but atypical cold and snow kept us on a more southerly route.
We were only 500 miles away. Good decision? There was more disagreeable weather to come.