Except for one vacation back to England, when my wife took Brigitte and Charlotte to see their sick grandfather, every other vacation until now has been a family affair. The five of us (or more if any of my daughters’ friends have joined us) spread out over multi-bedroom suites or houses booked for the week.
This time, it was different. My wife not only said she wasn’t going to join us, she specifically wanted the free time. As in: “Go!” So we went. Not to NYC per the original, earlier plan. But to Ocean City, Maryland.
It was with more than a little trepidation that I packed my two buttons up in the car (my oldest is doing final exams at college) and headed east for the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, it was light traffic and my mind drifted into whimsy as we cruised across flat countryside, dotted with farms, large-scale agrictulural machinery, and cute and tidy single-level houses. I had plenty of time for drifting thoughts as the little tongue of Maryland on the map from the Bay Bridge turns out to be a 100-mile journey! in Switzerland, I could shop in Mulhouse, France, on a Saturday; I could drive over the Alps into northern Italy; I could enjoy a Weihnachtsfest in Freiburg at Christmas time. In the USA, I can be fooled into thinking a little trip from Virginia to the coast is an hour, when it’s almost four.
I was lucky enough to get a room with an ocean view (see the first photo, and note that it can’t capture the full panorama). By keeping busy unpacking and heading for the beach, we glossed over the missing parts of the family.
Something reassuring happened. You see smaller and older kids that are no-question troublemakers. And others that are heading in the right direction. Reassurance happens in different ways. In this case, Brigitte asked Charlotte to help her dig a large-scale word into the sand, so I could take a picture from the room’s balcony.
The word, which I hope you can read, is “LOVE” with a big heart next to it. I have other photos of them waving happily from their creation, but I’ll keep them out of the limelight for now. Note that taking a photo of a word in the sand from 11 floors up is not easy! Thankfully, modern cameras have the pixels to allow cropping.
With the creation complete, and my photos taken, they spent a happy few hours scampering (and this seems the most appropriate word I can find) around the beach, collecting shells, testing the tide (with the usual squeals as they ran from a surprising wave), digging holes and burying small children, and so on. I was Offical Shell Assessor and made my keep-or-toss decision based partly on level of grossness, likelihood that a sea critter might still be lurking within, beauty, and the practical chance that the shell would survive the trip home.
Everyone was so busy, there was no time to be anything but tired in the evening. The little angels are fast asleep, snuggled together in one of the queen beds as I write this. Now it’s time for me to retire to the other one.