Ocean City in April
Did I even mention that we were going? I don't think that I did. Anyway, we went to Ocean City for three days for Bobby's birthday and also so that Alex could go before the in-season bans on dogs go into effect. Beginning in May, there are restrictions for dogs on the beach and Boardwalk, and we wanted to take Alex to both.
Crazily enough, the weather when we went with Sharon and Kirsty for Thanksgiving weekend at the end of November was warmer than it was Easter weekend, in April. It still wasn't completely bad, though ... just a little chilly.
Sunday was Bobby's birthday. Also Easter, yes, I know, but I despise Easter, and so I do not acknowledge it. Around here, anyway, it is nothing but a holiday for the twice-a-year Catholics that makes liberal use of Pagan traditions stolen by Christianity to make converting the "savages" that much easier. No, thank you. I will gladly celebrate Spring at the vernal equinox and give Easter a big middle finger.
We went over my in-laws' for a birthday dinner for Bobby, then left around 5:30 to get on the road to Ocean City. Alex slept most of the way. He'd had a busy weekend. Beside being over my inlaws' on Sunday, our friends Potter and Andrea came over on Saturday, so Alex, of course, had to be in their faces the entire time. Such is the way of a six-month-old Golden Retriever.
We arrived in Ocean City just before nine. We were staying at the Barefoot Mailman Motel, which allows pets. We'd never stayed there before; it was better than I expected. Not surprisingly, many of the smaller lodgings in Ocean City tend to be hovels. This one, though, slightly surpassed "average" into "somewhat nice," in terms of Ocean City lodgings, that is.
Once we got Alex settled and unpacked, we put on his chin lead and took to the beach. He loved it and bolted around, kicking up the sand. He quite happily peed in the sand as well. Next, we packed him into the car and took him to the Boardwalk, which was deserted, being Easter Sunday. Marty's Playland, of course, was open. Bobby and I had good intentions of putting Alex to bed and coming back for a few games of Ocean Hunter and Lord of the Rings pinball, but we were tired too so ended up cruising down Coastal Highway to see if we could find anyplace to get something to eat, supper having been many hours ago by then. A surprising number of places were open but mostly closed at ten. And when we started looking ... it was ten. Ah well. We went back to the room and ordered a pizza.
The next morning, I was awakened at 7:30 by a Golden Retriever who just had to show his Mommy the oyster shell that he'd brought back from the beach while taking his morning walk with Daddy. There he was, standing in the middle of the king-sized bed and tossing the oyster shell up into the air. Very cute ... but it was 7:30 a.m., so I shoved him back onto the floor, grumbled at him, and rolled over.
We'd been hoping to have breakfast at Brass Balls; the sign made it appear that they were open for breakfast. Only on the weekends, though, apparently, because they were shut up tight when we arrived at 10:30. Booo ... Dough Roller was a decent consolation.
We stopped in Ocean Gallery and ogled all of the paintings that we want to buy for our house. It was very hard not to walk away with one, in particular, of ships in a harbor, but better sense prevailed, and we decided that we should wait to see what kind of room we have for paintings before buying many more. We already have one extra painting in the apartment from Ocean Gallery than we have room to hang: "Jungle Play," which used to hang in our bedroom until we replaced it with the beachscape that we bought at Ocean Gallery last summer.
Still, once we have the house, we fully intend to go to Ocean City with a couple hundred to spend and go crazy at Ocean Gallery.
We headed back to the room then to take Alex to the beach. It was in the low 50s (about 12C) and partly cloudy. When the sun would break through, the day was gorgeous. When the clouds prevailed, it got a little chilly. Bobby and I had both brought our wetsuits in hopes that it would be nice enough to get in the water with Alex a little, but we decided it best to pass on that. Still, it was nice enough to sit on the beach for an hour. We planted our chairs, put Alex on his twenty-five-foot lead, and let him have fun. He delighted in the sand, which he learned he was allowed to dig in without getting into trouble. I found a horseshoe crab shell, which he tried to eat, so I had to bury it out of reach of his lead. We took dozens of pictures, which I will post later.
He also swallowed lots of sand, which would come to be important the next day.
When it was time to go back up, we took him down to the water's edge. Being Alex the 'Fraidy Cat, he was scared of the ocean. The water would rush up the sand, and he'd run away from it. Then he'd get brave and follow it back down, but come the next wave, he'd be cowering on dry sand again.
We hung out in the room for an hour to let his little feet get dry, then put him back on the chin lead and took him down to the Boardwalk. Most of the shops were open and there were many more people to distract him, but he did great. The chin lead is truly a miracle. He discovered that he enjoyed chasing pigeons; he's been fascinated by birds for some time now, but the birds at home, naturally, are too fast for him. We walked about 3 miles/4.8 km on the Boardwalk and didn't have a single problem with him. We succeeded in exhausting him, though, to the point that we could comfortably leave him to go out to dinner.
La Hacienda was open, so there was no question of where we would go. Afterwards, there was still daylight left, so we played miniature golf: the indoor Old Pro "undersea" course. Bobby beat me terribly. I was holding my own, but the building was terribly hot and I may have been a little buzzed from the margarita I'd had at La Hacienda. We went back to the room to get Alex and took him to the beach for low tide, but he made it quite clear that he'd had his excitement for the day, so we didn't keep him out long. He did get over his fear of the ocean a bit, though, and discovered that he liked to splash at the edge of it. Of course, at low tide, the waves were much more subdued than they'd been in the morning.
After tucking Alex away for the night, Bobby and I headed to Marty's Playland. They had a new game called "Jungle Safari" (or something like that) which was pretty much Ocean Hunter 1) on dry land, 2) without the comic addition of Engrish, and 3) with much better graphics. All of which served to make it less fun than Ocean Hunter. I played four games of LotR pinball after discovering that--although the machine said 75¢ per game--it was only 50¢ per game. Excellent! Luck was not with me, however, because I never broke 4 million. Yikes. I think that my run of beginner's luck was just that ... and the fact that the game was off a bit so that it sent me to the Paths of the Dead every time I shot a new pinball, which racked up mad points. I haven't scored so high on LotR pinball since that first set of games.
We ended with Ocean Hunter, which is a fine, cheesy game in which two players sit inside a "submersible" and attempt to defend themselves against all sorts of undersea monsters. Just what two conservationists and marine science students should do with their time and $2: sit in a booth and shoot down the sharks and squid and deep sea fish that they work to protect. The game is horribly cheesy with perhaps the worst line coming while fighting the Leviathan at the end of Level Two, when the players are instructed to "Aim the Throat." Sounds like a bad yaoi, if you ask me. But it's also a lot of fun, and Bobby and I play it at least once every time that we visit Marty's Playland. We got further this time than we had yet, making it to the Charybdis at the end of Level Three. Next time, we will make it to Level Four.
On the way back to the room, we stopped at Dumser's for some ice cream. Because the logical thing to do after a huge Mexican food meal is to top it off with large quantities of ice cream ... but Dumser's is so goooood. One cannot visit Ocean City and not go to Dumser's. And I earned retribution for my devastating loss at miniature golf by whooping Bobby in a race to see who could find the most words in the Word Find on the back of the placemat before the server brought our ice cream.
This morning, unfortunately, we had to leave. Alex came back from his morning walk with a clam shell this time. Because checkout was at 11 a.m. and we had Alex, our options were somewhat limited. We took him on another quick walk on the Boardwalk. When Bobby had him on the beach in the morning, Alex peed but didn't poop. Dog poop in the sand is nicer than dog poop on normal ground because one can kick sand over it and then just scoop the sand into the poop bag. So we were maybe a block down the Boardwalk and Alex assumed The Stance. "Dammit," I said because I wasn't keen on picking dog poop up off of the Boardwalk, even though I had thought to bring an extra plastic bag. Still, as Alex squatted in The Stance, something odd happened. What came out looked like, for lack of a better description, gingerbread crumbs crushed very fine in one's hand. At first, I thought he had diarrhea (which really thrilled me ... the thought of mopping up diarrhea off the Boardwalk with my plastic bag) but it was completely dry. It took a few moments to realize that our dog was shitting out a pile of sand on the Boardwalk.
We had a good laugh about that one. He finished it off with one turd neatly on top, I picked up the whole mess, threw it in a nearby litter bin, and we were on our way again.
We'd hoped to find a place on the Boardwalk to grab some lunch before leaving (yes, even after the sand-shit incident), but nothing was open that had something other than burgers and hot dogs, which worked for neither of us. (Bobby is avoiding red meat now too.) We bought some fudge at Candy Kitchen (yes, even after the sand-shit incident) since we always bring back candy for other people but never for ourselves. Bobby also surprised me with a small stuffed skate (as in the fish, not the footwear); very cute! Finally, we could prolong it no longer, packed Alex into the car, and decided to find a Subway on the way home.
So our first Ocean City trip in April was a great success, Alex had a wonderful time (and will now sleep for the rest of the week), and I will never look at gingerbread crumbs quite the same again.