OBX 2021 and 2022

Dear readers, I realized that at some point in writing my two OBX pieces, I would need to explain my relationship with the beach and the ocean. I have always hated the beach, but, as a kid, I found joy body surfing in the Atlantic Ocean. Most Sundays in July and August, Mom and I would attend the 7:30 Mass at St. Aloysius R.C. Church, rush home after mass and pack up for our ride to the beaches in Far Rockaway. My Aunt Mildred would pick-us-up in her 1950 Dodge. I would occupy the back seat with my cousin, Patty, two-years younger than me.

One quarter admitted us to a municipal parking lot with access to the beach so long as we arrived before 10 am. We hauled our stuff over the boardwalk, back onto the sand and toward the surf. We planted the umbrella and established our beach domain with wooden folding chairs and blankets. I attacked the surf ASAP where I lived most of the day. The surf is where I learned to swim on my own and ride the waves on my belly…glory days.

My memory of that time plus the continued love of a beach vacation by my family motivated me to first go to the Outer Banks in 2019. We celebrated Mary Ann’s 75th in 2020 at the house called Run-A-Way Bay, liked it so much that we renewed this house in Duck for 2021 and 2022.

As for me; I hate the sun, the sand, bathing suits, and lately, the surf. But still, I find the sound of the mighty Atlantic crashing against the shore irresistible, and I sit on the deck in the shade as I listen to the surf and smell the ocean as I recall those long-ago days in Far Rockaway.

Run-A-Way Bay fit us like a glove. The second floor featured an inside dining room and an outside picnic table that was perfect for the eleven of us. An unexpected extra was access to a full-size swimming pool about one-quarter of a mile from the house. Part of a separate resort called, Sanderling, apparently, our rental included the use of their facilities. The pool provided all the access to swimming that I needed.

We again avoided crowds and eating in restaurants during both our 2021 and 2022 stays. Mary Ann and I made one exception in 2021 when we ate on an outdoor patio one night.

Drew announced that he would not wear shoes during that stay and he kept this commitment. His closest call came when we went to Five Guys for take-out. No shoes, no service, but I delivered his burger and fries to the car.

What the hell, we renewed Run-A-Way Bay, for 2022.  Another great beach vacation despite a troubled extended weather system that parked itself along the coast from Key West to the Carolinas. It produced daily forecasts of doom and gloom, but, lucky us, the awful weather never made it as far north as Duck.

Late in the summer of 2021, Mary Ann and I came across a clearance sale of beach paraphernalia at an Ocean Job Lot store in Newport, NH. A open sided gazebo caught our eyes that came with four weights (price extra) to keep it steady in moderate wind. Fortunately, its dimensions fit into our SUV and we brought it down to Duck where it became one of the hits of our vacation. It survived to make the return trip north.

Drew had just graduated college and a new job kept him from joining us. It became clear that this would be our last OBX vacation. At our arrival pizza dinner, I announced that I would take as many who would come to Kitty Hawk to see the Wright Brothers memorial, exhibits and the museum. In the end, Cace, Marlowe, Tom and Mary Ann signed on.

As Cace and I walked through the exhibits we came across a photo box that showed the images  of famous American aviators and astronauts. The screen in the center changed the images every ten-seconds, but on either side, there were permanent images. On the right side, Orville and Wilber Wright. On the left, a color photo of Sally Ride.

My 15-year-old grandson looked down at me and asked: “Why is her photo on display instead of Neal Armstrong’s?”

“Cace, she was the first American woman astronaut to go into space.”

“C’mon Grandpa, Armstrong was the first person, ever, to walk on the moon!”

Point made.

I rewarded Cace, myself and all of us for their loyalty in joining me to see Kitty Hawk by having  take-out lunches from a nearby Five Guys.

Early on Saturday morning we joined the seemingly endless convoy of vacationers making their way back to the mainline. Between traffic and needed senior stops, we made it home in just under twelve hours.

Once again, we broke even. Back home in Connecticut, Jodie texted Mary Ann: “My favorite vacations, ever. I wish I could spend all summer on that beach.