Back from the Ocean
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: