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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Back from the Ocean

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Back from the Ocean

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tiki hut
Well, Rosie, I'm back.

And the weekend was awesome.

The fun started on Saturday. Bobby and I went up to Celtic Fling at the Pennsylvania Ren Faire grounds. It's an annual Celtic music festival. We went for the first time two years ago and missed last year because ... well, we were in Ireland, so kinda doing the real thing. It's a great festival, though, with awesome music.

This year, it was hot. We went to see Solas at the Boarshead Stage and, when we got there, all of the seats were filled except for the first three rows in the sun. Don't ask me how Solas was. Bobby says they were very good. They were having major sound problems and spent the first fifteen-twenty minutes sound-checking. By the time they were done that, I was so sick from the heat and the sun that I don't even remember much about the music at all. I was about to give in and go hunker in the shade somewhere when the emcee announced the show was over (the band looked rather surprised at that; I suspect they planned to play a full hour set, not the scraps left over after the technical problems).

Of course, the best part was Scythian. They played three sets, and we went to all three sets. They rocked the house. I will be very, very surprised if they aren't headlining in the next couple of years. They always draw a crowd and an energetic crowd. The space between the seats and stage was filled by people jumping and dancing. I may have been among them. Hee. I did not bruise my hands this time. However, they were sore for the day after the show.

The next day, we went over my parents' house and left for the ocean. We were staying at the Fenwick Inn in northern Ocean City. When I was a kid, the Fenwick Inn was one of the places we always stayed. A few years ago, we had a bad experience there and haven't been back since. We should have learned our lesson.

We arrived at about one in the afternoon. Check-in was at four. Most places allow you to check in early or at least start the paperwork so that, when the room is ready, they need only hand over the key. Well, they wouldn't do that. They told us that we could use the facilities--the lounge, the pool (pay particular attention to the latter!)--while we waited. We talked it over and decided to drive down to the Boardwalk instead.

My mom has a mild obsession with homemade ice cream (which she pronounces "homemade ice keem"). So we stopped at Dumser's and got Mom a cone of soft serve chocolate homemade ice keem and then strolled a ways down the Boardwalk until those who hadn't slathered on the sunscreen that morning were at risk of burning. So we walked back and drove back to the hotel, arriving at 3:30. In all of our travels--and Bobby and I have stayed in some dives in our day--we have never tried to check in a half-hour early and been turned away.

But turned away we were! And! We walked over to check out the pool and found the door padlocked shut with a sign on the door that the pool was closed till further notice. Mentioning this at the front desk, we were offered free passes to the Jolly Roger water park. If you can imagine my fifty-something mom and sixty-something dad going down a waterslide in an inner tube, then you have a better imagination than I do.

So we sat in the snack room and waited till four o'clock. And the people kept piling in. Soon, there was barely room to stand. There must have been 100 people in that lobby, waiting to check in. At quarter of four, a manager stood up and bellowed over the heads of the waiting people and said, "Not all the rooms are ready, and some of you will be pissed off about that, but we're going to start checking people in anyway."

He said "pissed off"!! Now, I have been known to indulge in salty language. In fact, I have, at times, woven a tapestry of profanity that, as far as I know, still hangs somewhere over the Chesapeake Bay. I also spent six years in the restaurant bidness and know that 1) you do not use that kind of language ever ever ever in front of guests (that's what the anteroom and walk-in are for) and 2) you never bellow at a crowd. Well, for that matter, you never leave 100 people waiting, either, when they could be filling out the paperwork that will in short time be tying of the queues.

The manager's name, we would learn, was Sturgis. Later, in the elevator, a woman would spit out, "That's not even a name, it's a fish!" Sturgis would become kind of iconic over the course of our trip.

Bobby and Dad went to stand in the now very long queue to check in. When we got a key--and our room was indeed ready, so we weren't doomed to be among the "pissed off" that Sturgis had portended--we hauled our stuff up to our room and got ready to go down to the beach. Four people in a room with one bathroom take a while to get ready to do anything, and when we went back downstairs, the lobby was still packed full of people, and the queue still stretched out of sight.

We stayed at the beach for a couple of hours. And I saw the ocean! It has been two years since I last saw the ocean, aside from seeing it from an airplane window, which doesn't count. The ocean is very inspiring to me. Since I have had my creative reawakening, I have yet to walk away from it without an idea for a story or poem.

While we were down there, some fool made all the kids get out of the ocean because, she said, she "saw a stingray and it freaked [her] out." There are no freaking stingrays in Ocean City! There are skates, which are their harmless, egg-laying cousins. (Rays are live bearers.) People.

We went to dinner at Phillip's and had a server who was the exact opposite of Sturgis. She was wonderful. A vegetarian dining at a seafood restaurant can pose challenges, but she handled my requests with such accommodation and grace. And she never bellowed at us once. She even found fresh corn for my dad, even though it wasn't on the menu for the day.

Then it was back down to the Boardwalk, where we parked at one of the upper streets and walked south. Mom and Dad found a bench after a while, but Bobby and I went down to the Kite Loft because that's always a fun shop to browse around in. Then we walked back and stopped on the way back to the hotel at Dumser's so that Mom could get more homemade ice keem. This time, she had a banana split. I had a chocolate malt. Yummmmm ...

The next morning, we went for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was good, but half-size portions would have been more than adequate. Restaurants with ridiculously huge portions annoy me because no one finishes their food and, because it's vacation, most people can't or won't take it to go, so it all goes to waste. I suppose it's one way to inflate profits on a low-profit meal like breakfast but dang. Omelets do not need to be made with five eggs each!

When we went downstairs, we checked the pool. Still closed. The padlock was off because there was a man testing the water.

Till this point, we assumed that the pool had algae or something. Mom thought maybe the health department had closed it. Well, now we learned the truth. We asked the woman at the front desk if there was any idea of when the pool would be open again. (My family has a long-standing tradition of staying up late at night, playing Uno around the pool. We have been doing this since my sister and I had the intellectual capacity for Uno. Hence our interest.) She said that they were "waiting on the State," which initially verified Mom's idea about the health department. Then she added that there had been a fatality (!!) in the pool, and the State had to conduct an investigation.

A fatality! And the pool had been open when we first tried to check in, so it happened while we were on the Boardwalk. We never figured out exactly what happened. And, no, it didn't explain Sturgis's bad attitude. He was an asshole the whole time we were there. When we left the next day, there was an investigator in the pool area, taking pictures.

Bobby and I have a rather storied history of observing tragedy down the ocean. Sitting on the beach, I once looked up from my book just in time to see a biplane crash into the ocean down by the pier. Another time, we saw all of these emergency rescue boats circling offshore and later found out that a woman had killed herself by throwing herself overboard. Now some poor sap dies in the lame Fenwick Inn pool, with it's mushroom-shaped fountain in the middle. Enough already! OC is supposed to be a happy place!

We went down to the beach. It was one of the most perfect beach days that I've ever had, and I've spent my share of days sitting on the beach. It was hot but there was a constant breeze coming off of the ocean that felt like air conditioning. I spent some time with my feet in the ocean, talking to the muses. I put a healthy dent in my light beach reading, The Vegetarian Myth. Even Dad stayed the whole time, and Dad does not like the beach! Bobby and I walked down the beach into Delaware, which sounds impressive until you realize that Delaware was seven blocks away. Delaware, however, had far nicer sandcastles. Someone had even built the Great Pyramids out of sand. Now the Temple of Ramses in sand would have been impressive.

When we got back, Sturgis was back at the front desk, slouching to one side with the phone in his ear (the whole time we were there, he was either on the phone or arguing with an employee), looking like he had a live porcupine in his mouth. Or up his bum.

We went for dinner on Monday to Adolfo's the little Italian restaurant in the inlet that Bobby, hrymfaxe, and I found two years ago. We had intended to go for soft crab sandwiches at Dayton's and walked all the way down the Boardwalk to discover that Dayton's had burned down! We were starving and had walked over a mile by the point, so we made a pact to eat at the next place we found. We spied Adolfo's from the inlet shopping center. It was love at first bite. It's a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, family-owned, everything homemade. They advertise that the kitchen has only six burners and one oven. It did not disappoint the second time either, and Mom and Dad liked it as well. While we were eating, a spectacular thunderstorm rolled across Ocean City and out to sea, with lightning like I've never seen. When we went up to the Boardwalk and it was out over the sea. I've never seen a lightning storm over the sea before. It was wild.

Bobby and I visited our other traditional haunt, Ocean Gallery, whence comes most of the artwork in our house, and walked back to the Kite Loft from the other direction because Bobby wanted a suncatcher for the kitchen window. Then up still further to the bookstore where I quite accidentally obtained the seventh Harry Potter book at midnight on the day it was release, but it was closed. We capped off the night with a stroll out on the fishing pier, where people were catching those very dangerous OC "sting rays," i.e. skates. Everyone's always really excited when someone catches a skate, but I've never seen anyone catch anything but skates off of that fishing pier.

And Mom had her final homemade ice keem, this time a chocolate-peanut butter swirl from Kohr Brothers.

At night and in the morning, Bobby and I walk down to the beach. I was exhausted, but I wanted to see the ocean at night one last time. This past weekend was a full moon, so the rising moon cast a beautiful moonwalk on the water. The storm clouds were breaking into rags that crossed the face of the moon. It was hazy, so there was a bright moonbow and more storms coming in from the east, so lightning in the distance. I would have stayed out there all night if I wasn't so tired and if the wind wasn't so cold.

When we got back, we made an alarming discovery. Bobby and Mom had gotten sunburned badly on the beach that day, especially Bobby! He had no warning signs--no tenderness or redness or heat--until we got back that night. The best that we can figure is that it was a combination of sun and wind burn, since the wind was so brisk all day. He's been miserable all day today, though; he barely slept last night and has been alternating between itching and pain all day today. Poor Bobby. Being fair-skinned, I've been there many times myself (if I look too hard at the sun, it burns me). He's now sworn to join me in wearing SPF 50, which we've nicknamed moonblock, since it will block even the weak rays of the moon.

The next morning was the sad time of departure. We drove back down to south Ocean City and had lunch at Brass Balls, stopped for candy, and hit the bookshop on our way out of town, then our vacation was over, and we were on our way home.

The end of vacation is always sad. (Especially since it's always straight back to work for me. Oh, how I long for the day when I am employed in a job where I can take time off for the hell of it! How grateful I was today, though, that I didn't have to go to the WAU. After vacation, that was always painful. Six easy articles was bliss in comparison. But I still would have liked the day off!) However, it is still only June--though barely!--and we have a Williamsburg trip with my family in August, and Bobby and I hope to take the Goldens down the ocean in October when dogs are allowed on the beach and Boardwalk. Lancer has yet to see the ocean. So there is much to look forward to and, unlike this time last year, we have the means to do it.

Of course, this would not be a Felagund Family holiday without pictures!

Various seascapes that Bobby took on our last morning there:










  • (no subject) -
    • *hugs back* Thank you, Roisin! I'm glad the first card arrived safely! There's another on its way too!

      The funny thing about Sturgis is that Bobby and I, when we go to the ocean by ourselves, stay in some real dives, and we never have problems. We tried to go to a nicer place because we had my parents and ended up with Sturgis. And a crime-scene pool. But we all got a good laugh out of it!
  • I love the pics!

    Actually (iirc), my aunt was in her 70's when she went down some of the "baby rapids" in an innertube -- despite the fact that she can't swim. She even fell out a couple of times but the grandkids managed to get her back in the tube.
    • I hope that when I am 70, I am still willing and able to go down a waterslide! :) My parents aren't really the adventurous types, though. Even when I was a kid--and they were in their respective 30s and 40s--my sister and I went mostly went on rides with my Uncle Wodie (distant cousin of my dad's who lived with us till he died when I was 14). They've actually become more adventurous with age, but they're not quite at the waterslide point yet! :)
  • Glad you had a lovely trip at the beach! Sorry the hotel was less than stellar :( Sometimes trying new places is worth it....but I understand what you were saying about family traditions and playing Uno by the pool and all. The worst place I stayed in at the beach had *bedbugs* (or, well, some sort of bugs that were crawling all over me so that I had to wake up and take a shower at three in the morning). We took samples to management so they would know exactly what it was they should be exterminating....

    Out of curiosity, do you treat sunburn with aloe or Noxema or something else? (I am also fair-skinned, and generally appreciate advice on the topic.)
    • Ugh! I've stayed in some dives, but I draw the line at bugs! (Though I hear that's a pretty common problem, even in really nice hotels ... o.O)

      The funny thing is that our favorite humble little dive, the Buckingham Hotel on 15th Street, which frequently offers rooms for $70 a night, we have never had a problem with! We try to find something nicer for my parents and there are managers bellowing at us and people dying in the people and all manner of awfulness!

      But, in the end, we laugh about it. Bobby and I have, all week, looked at a clock and said, "Oh! Sturgis is on for his shift! Maybe we should call and say hi?"

      We use aloe for sunburn. Luckily, it's a rare occurrence since Bobby (usually) does not burn easily, and I overapply sunscreen and sit in the shade. Bobby also found that ibuprofen helped him deal with the pain, and since it's also an anti-inflammatory, that helped too.
  • You and the beach look so pretty! *is jealous*. lol.
  • What fun!

    You know, the older you and Bobby get the more good looking you become! I mean, you were always attractive, but... does that make sense?

  • What lovely pics! And it sounds like a wonderful holiday, well, except for the jerky hotel manager and the closed pool and the fatality and the burned down restaurant...

    Hmm...that sounds rather more dreadful listed out like that than it did in your post! Because you seem to have had, overall, an excellent time and that's what counts! But I think much is in attitude-- and you seem to have the right attitude for enjoying yourself in spite of problems!
    • The burned-down restaurant, luckily, was the last time we were at the ocean, with hrymfaxe! :D I kept having this nightmare of going to our hole-in-the-wall little Italian joint and finding it gone. (Not uncommon in OC, especially during the recession ...) But all the restaurants we expected were still there this time!

      We do indeed try to make the best of bad situations. Really awful or odd experiences tend to get turned into jokes in our family. Fenwick Inn has been known as "Room from Hell" in our family for years now (yet we keep staying there ...) We laugh about it. Then my dad writes a letter. Then we get a free night's stay. It's all good, in the end. ;)
  • Ah, it wouldn't be a vacation without one or two things going horribly, mysteriously wrong, would it? But enough homemade ice keem, and you forget all your troubles. (Though the homemade saltwater taffy up in Rockport does just as well!)

    I want to go down water slides in a tube when I'm in my fifties and sixties!
    • Me too! My parents have just never been the thrill ride sorts. They're getting more adventurous in middle age than I remember them being when I was a kid. (Back in the day, they didn't even go to the beach for more than a short while!) Maybe they'll work up to a waterslide in their 70s, like samtyr's aunt!
  • Oh all that talk about Ice Keem, darn. Your mom and my girl could do a whole day (or for days) ice keem tour. Even today in town she babbled about ice cream.

    As for the hotel thing: maybe stuff were also delayed because the police would be searching through rooms and the manager was very stressed out by all of that? It sounds like a crime mystery story to write.

    And ah the sea... I miss it!
    • I don't think there was foul play involved in the Mysterious Death by the Pool. ;) More likely, I suspect someone slipped and hit their head or had a heart attack in the water or something. The investigation, I suspect, was more to clear the hotel (or not) of negligence.

      It probably did affect the delay somewhat. And we realized that but were annoyed by the terrible way in which it was handled. We all worked together in a restaurant for years (three of us were managers) and know all about wrenches in cogs. Though, thankfully, no one ever died on one of our shifts! But the management was making no effort to reduce the hardship on their guests. For example, at check-in, they required an information card to be filled out. This could have been handed out ahead of time to save several minutes per guest when they reach the head of the line. And I don't care what happened, there is no excuse for a manager to shout over the heads of a crowd and use the kind of language he did. If he cannot find a way to be diplomatic in a stressful situation, then he needs a new job. He was in a foul mood the whole time we were there. We never saw him smile or deal civilly with anyone, so my sympathy wears thin.

      I think Susannah would be happy in the House of Felagund--we have homemade ice keem here all of the time! :)
  • Oh, wow! I'm glad you enjoyed the trip even with the problems. :)

    The photos actually made me miss the beach for a minute. (I don't like the ocean-- the joke between my sister and me is that she's a Teler and I'm a Noldo.)
    • My husband takes beautiful landscape photos, imho! :)

      I am a mix of Noldo and Teler, personally. I have the diligence and craftiness (and attitude) of a Noldo, but I love the sea. This is the longest I'd been without seeing it (aside from an airplane window) since I was a kid, and that was not pleasant.
      • He does!

        Well, it doesn't help that the beach I've spent most of my life near is now covered in oil, so there's a definite bit of knowing that object of my memories have pretty much been destroyed. But my sister lives in Orlando, and my parents are visiting her next week, and they're going to the Atlantic one day specifically because of her missing it so much. So I really do understand.
  • Sounds like a fun holiday in spite of your hotel copying the Fawlty Towers business model!
    • Unfortunately, a lot of OC hotels copy the Fawlty Towers model! I suspect that because there are so many tourists and rooms are sometimes hard to find and many people don't know better, then even the bad ones can stay afloat.

      We did have fun though! :)
  • Wow, beautiful pics and don't you look sweet! I'm so glad you had a wonderful break with your hubbie, you really deserve it!

    • *hugs back* Thanks, Cathleen! It was a great time! Now I need a vacation from my vacation, though! :D
  • The homemade ice keem sounds good. Loved the pictures! Thanks for sharing.
    • It was good! OC is awesome because it's been a popular tourist spot for half of forever, and a lot of the old businesses are still around that make wonderful homemade food.

      And I loved the chibis! I'm still catching up so haven't had a chance to reply to all of my emails yet, but I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed and appreciated them! Here's to a calmer July! :)
  • Lovely photos.
    The sea seems so calm. One question: there seem to be (to my Latin eyes) few people on the beach. Is that so? Our beaches look quite similar but are usually overcrowded!
    SPF: nothing under 30 (the sun is a killer near the hole in the ozone layer).
    • The beach in OC also tends to be much more crowded. It doesn't look very crowded here because it was early in the morning, and we were staying on one of the upper streets (139th). Believe me, midafternoon on the lower streets probably looks more like what you expect! :)

      Same with the sea. Where we were, I think there must have been a sandbar just off the coast because the waves were coming all the way in before breaking. On the lower streets, the waves can get downright vicious, and rip currents become a real problem too.

      Even away from the hole in the ozone layer, less than SPF 30 sort of makes me wonder, "Why even bother??" I think we have some sort of regulatory agency that says that 30 is the minimum for protection. If I could find higher than 50, I'd wear it!
  • Just the first of your wonderful pictures sent me into longing to go to the sea myself. It's so beautiful! Glad you had such a wonderful time despite the crappy start at the hotel! :) And you do look lovely in that white dress!

    And may I add that this In fact, I have, at times, woven a tapestry of profanity that, as far as I know, still hangs somewhere over the Chesapeake Bay. is a really outstanding metaphor that left me grinning from ear to ear? :D
    • Lol--I wish I could say that I had made it up! :D It's adapted from a line from the movie A Christmas Story: "My father wove a tapestry of profanity which to this day is still hovering somewhere over Lake Michigan." It's always been one of my favorite lines, and if you've ever seen the movie, when his father is battling the radiator? Totally me, when I'm on a roll.

      The white dress, incidentally, belies that a bit. ;)

      My husband took the seascape pictures, and I think they turned out really well. Especially since I was kind of sniping that they wouldn't turn out as he was taking them ... ._. I love the sea. It had been two years since I last saw it, aside from an airplane window, and oh, did I miss it!
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