A Nondescript Vacation Is an Awesome Vacation (Which Does Not Mean I Won't Write at Length about It)
My parents came down with us for the first half of the week. I woke up Sunday morning, post-beestung nose, with diffuse facial swelling that made me look rather like a non-cute Avatar character: non-cute because, unfortunately, the swelling didn't also come with large luminous eyes and blue skin; I just looked puffy and weird. We left on Sunday and got into town around 1:30 and had the traditional arrival lunch at Piezano's, then headed for the beach. The temperatures this week were in the low 80s (~27C), sunny, but with a breeze off the ocean that kept the beach cool. Actually, at times, it was almost chilly.
A breeze off the sea is not good for surfing, though, as it flattens the waves. Poor Bobby has had awful surfing all week. (To add insult to injury, the surf this morning, post-Arthur, was supposed to be effing awesome.) The mornings have been workable, but he only went out twice in the evenings because the surf was so flat and the waves breaking pretty much at the beach.
At home on the other hand ...? It was apparently hot as hell. When we picked up the Goldens from my inlaws yesterday, my father-in-law said that he stepped onto the back deck one afternoon, and the temperature was 105F/41C in the sun. They live just outside of Baltimore, so it wasn't that bad at home but still in the 90s/mid-30s C. In February, we went to Ocean City to escape the three feet of snow in our yard. This time, although we didn't time it this way on purpose, it seems we avoided the first big heat wave of the year.
The surfing was bad but, at the beginning of the week anyway, the wind for the kite was great. We flew the kite just about every evening until the wind started to pick up at the end of the week in anticipation of Hurricane Arthur, who grazed us on Friday morning. We have a Prism Jazz stunt kite, but it is a beginner's kite, so it is not designed for high winds. We broke it when we first got it, trying to fly it in too heavy of winds, so we're more careful with it now. Bobby's getting really good at it; I'm ... ehhhhh. I can do some slower tricks with it, but Bobby whips it around in a figure-eight pattern so that the wind in its wings sounds like a little airplane taking off. (The video in the link above is of someone who really knows how to fly it. We don't do most of the things with ours that they do with theirs. Maybe someday.)
I did a lot of reading this week on the beach. I binge-read ... well, re-read ... The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I last read it in college, so it's been a while. Given certain recent Supreme Court decisions, it was a timely choice. Then it was thesis-related reading for the remaining days. I finished a reread of Opland's Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry. Fun times.
On Tuesday, we went with my parents on a sunset cruise on the Judith M. Bobby and I did this last year. (Another one of those weird instances where experiences superimposed themselves: I remember so clearly last year that Bobby wanted to go to the upper deck, but there is nowhere to sit up there and I didn't think I could stand on my feet for that long because they hurt so bad. I also wasn't sure that I could manage the steep stairs. This time, we went to the upper deck and watched a group of dolphins that came up alongside the boat, and I stayed on my feet for most of the cruise.) The wind was starting to pick up, so the captain decided not to take the boat onto the ocean because of the spray, so we went to the OC commercial fishing harbor instead, which I loved. I have an obsession with fishing boats. I have no idea why! I'm a vegetarian, for pity's sake! I think it's because it's one of the few jobs left that relies completely on nature and natural forces. There is also something about watching a boat go out to sea. And something about a boat coming in from sea. Also I like the fact that most of them have arms.
I apparently got really excited over the fishing boats because my family teased me about it. :^| They were pointing out the houses I would be most happy in because I could sit outside and watch the boats going out to and coming in from the sea all day.
Ocean City has quite a commercial fishing industry. Probably the best-known example of it is from the movie The Perfect Storm: the boat that played the Andrea Gail was an OC fishing boat.
My parents. My dad looks good for 81, doesn't he? (He's not actually 81--he's 71--but he insists he's 81 so often that I sometimes find myself forgetting that he's not actually 81.)
Bobby and me. In the background is the Ocean City Inlet. To the left is the end of Ocean City; this is where the Boardwalk begins and is home to the pier, rides, and culinary classics like Thrasher's Fries and Dumser's Ice Cream. (Or Trasher's and Dumpster's to me.) You can see the Tidal Wave rollercoaster at Trimper's Rides just over my head. If the picture showed just a bit more to the right, you'd see Assateague Island, which has no permanent human habitation and is best known for its wild ponies, which are theorized to have escaped a Spanish ship that sank off the coast.
Selfie with the Go-Pro! The Inlet area of Ocean City is in the background.
Looking out to sea in the Inlet. The fishing pier (which was partially destroyed during Hurricane Sandy and then damaged again in this past winter's insane winter storms) is to the left. Bobby and I love that fishing pier. It costs 50 cents to go out as a sight-seer, so we go out almost every night because I like to watch the boats come in around 11 PM. You can see how choppy the surf was and why the captain decided not to go out to sea. There are speedboat cruises along the OC coast where you are forewarned that you will get wet, but this isn't that kind of cruise.
The sun going down and the fambly looking over the side. The Inlet area is to the right.
Bobby and me again, not as good of a picture, but dad took this one because of the fishing boat in the background, for his wack and fishing-boat-obsessed daughter. (The boat was called the Knot Easy.)
Coming back into the Isle of Wight Bay. To the left is the Coast Guard station. You can barely make out two gray boats sitting in an enclosure (to the left of the more visible white boat). These are designed to capsize and right themselves in stormy seas. They are apparently taken out sometimes off the OC coast and intentionally capsized so that the Coast Guardians can practice. Eek. (Apologies for the weird quality of some of the pictures! Our point-and-shoot is broken, so we were using Bobby's Go-Pro camera that he uses for taking snowboarding videos. It has no viewfinder or zoom because it usually rides on top of his helmet, so it's kind of a point-and-guess.)
The last time Bobby and I went, it was overcast and so our sunset cruise did not have a sunset. This time, though, we were not similarly disappointed, and the sunset was gorgeous. The sunset over the Isle of Wight Bay, Ocean City.
After the cruise, we got a late supper at Fish Tales, the restaurant/bar located right alongside the marina. We'd never been before but Bobby and I scoped it out last time we were out on the Judith M, and it looked really cool, so we tried it out and were not disappointed. It was open-air seating right alongside the water with plenty of deck chairs to pull up and watch the bay while enjoying a drink. That night, Bobby and I went down to the beach--we were both too tired to get on the B and go downtown--and saw two shooting stars.
Mom and Dad departed the next morning for home, but Bobby and I still had two more days. We lounged on the beach and then went to the free shipwreck museum just across the state line in Fenwick Island. We've been through that thing so many times, but it's always changed just enough to make going back annually worthwhile. We took the car, but since we were sharing space with a 12-foot longboard and since parking is expensive at the Inlet, then we decided to park at the hotel and take the B downtown. We were having dinner at Shenanigan's Irish pub and seeing a band we liked.
One of those things happened where someone does something stupid and jerkish to save themselves a minute of time and ends up costing you a boatload. As we were driving back to the hotel, some assclown stretched a green turn signal and ended up blocking the intersection, so we had to sit for a minute until traffic eased enough for him to pull out of the street. Meanwhile, a B had pulled alongside us. We were making good time but didn't get back fast enough to catch that bus; we missed it by about 30 seconds. This wasn't a big deal, we figured, since it was a holiday week, so they were surely running at least every ten minutes. Twenty minutes later ... still no B, although we saw about eight going in the opposite direction. I think they all ended up somehow at the Inlet, and they were literally sending them in droves down to the Delaware line so that there were buses available to travel southbound. We were both starving--it was going on 9 PM!--and I was starting to get hangry, and so when we got on the B, I made many whispered mean comments about the outfits of fellow passengers that they clearly thought looked cute but actually looked really stupid. (High-waisted shorts! W.T.F!!) Dinner was good and we enjoyed the band, and I had two Guinnesses and got pretty buzzed. We walked down the Boardwalk, and it was so late that the fishing pier was closing, but the young woman who was running it that night let us go out for free until she got it shut down. ($1 saved! Woohoo!) There was a pretty fierce lightning storm out over the water that was spectacular to watch.
Ocean City's busiest day of the year is probably the 4th of July. We were leaving that day. (Hotels basically triple in cost that night.) It was getting progressively busier as the week wore on. Thursday, we had another beach day, then had reservations at The Shark on the Harbor, which is OC's highest-rated restaurant in West Ocean City, on the commercial fishing harbor. Yay! Bobby had called the day before and got one of the last reservations. When we were driving across the Division Street Bridge, the traffic coming into town was crazy.
The Shark on the Harbor is farm-to-table or boat-to-table, depending on what you order. All of their seafood is locally sourced, with the boat and captain listed in the menu. The menu changes twice daily. It is an incredible restaurant; this was our fourth time there, and I think we like it better every time. I had the beet and berry salad, which I could have eaten like four of, it was so good, and the cauliflower steak, which is my favorite menu item there. Bobby had the hot-and-sour crab soup and the blackened mahi-mahi. We finished it off with a white-chocolate and blueberry bread pudding and a pair of house-made doggie cookies to take home to the dogs.
We headed to the Boardwalk after that. We'd been doing so much in the evening that we hadn't walked much, so we walked from the Inlet to 12th Street, stopping in our favorite shops (Ocean Gallery and Kite Loft!) and stopping on our way back to people-watch. On one of the busiest nights of the season, the people-watching was pretty daggone good. The fishing pier was closing again by the time we made it back to the Inlet, and we didn't even try for a free admission this time but watched what we could from the part that extends over the beach that you can use for free. We wrapped up for the night with $10 at Marty's Playland: pinball first, then the remainder on Ocean Hunters. We almost beat Ocean Hunters, one of our favorite games there; we got to the end-boss of the fifth level, and there are only two levels after that. We decided that, next time, we'll do Ocean Hunter first and spend our full $10 if needed to beat the game. We've been playing it for about ten years now whenever we go to OC, and it's getting really wonky as it ages, so I'm worried it could go away at any time. (It was broken over the winter, but I guess they decided to fix it; it seems pretty popular despite how stupid it is.) It's definitely one of the stupidest games I've ever played. You play as a pair of divers (Chris and Torel [??]) who are diving for treasure in the sea but also fighting sea monsters because those two things go together like horse and carriage. You fight various marine animals that actually don't pose much of a threat in real life (like deep-sea fish and jellyfish ... the latter can sting painfully, of course, but don't actually attack people like they do in Ocean Hunter) and then a monster at the end of each level. You periodically have to rescue other divers from monsters. It is very poorly translated and stupid on so many levels and yet ridiculously fun to play. Bobby and I know it so well that we can recite whole swaths of badly translated lines by heart.
That was our last night, and I think we got out just in time. When we returned, a group of young women had taken up residence in three rooms near ours and were up half the night shouting in the halls and banging doors. (One of
Friday morning, I woke up to the sound of shrieking winds. Hurricane Arthur, which had made landfall in North Carolina the night prior as a category-2 hurricane, was just grazing by. The wind speeds in OC were a sustained 35 mph/56 kph, which was enough to make a sound and a fury with very little damage. Since Arthur was supposed to leave as quickly as he arrived, Bobby and I decided to wait out the worst of it in the hotel so that we didn't have to load the car during wind-driven rain. Once the storm started to clear, we had some errands to run and got lunch at Tequila Mockingbird; by this time, Coastal Highway was insane, and we crept back southward to the bridge to leave. I can't imagine what traffic was like further downtown.
And now we're home and it's back to work on Monday. Boooo.
This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!