Thursday, June 19, 2008

At the Beach

I've never been interested in a beach vacation. It's not that I have anything against the water. I love being near water. I just don't want to actually get into it. I also fear and dread the sun as only a fair-skinned person can. I'm sporting a sunburn right now. Finally, sand is just another word for dirt--nasty, gritty dirt that gets everywhere.

Given that, spending time in the Outer Banks in North Carolina might not seem like the best choice for me. But I had a great time. We got a great dose of history and fable on Roanoke Island, and then we spent an ocean day.

We looked at lighthouses. We even climbed the largest brick lighthouse in the world (257 steps*, not counting the eight you had to climb to get into the lighthouse itself). We wandered down boardwalk paths into marshlands where we saw many birds, butterflies, and a tick, but not the mosquitoes that bit CKL so many times.

We went for a walk on the beach, where I was briefly terrified for nearby swimmers at the sight of a big black fin cutting through the water. My Jaws moment ended when I realized that we were looking at three dolphins offshore. After that I was just thrilled. We watched the dolphins until they went away.

I had so much fun with the beach walk that I made CKL do it again as the sun went down. This time, I even braved the edges of the waves barefoot. There were tiny crablets everywhere, which prompted much screaming from a group of little girls. I just dodged. Those little dudes are quick.

All screaming and dodging crablets aside, it was a very satisfying walk. We didn't go in until it got so dark that I couldn't see the jellyfish any more. I wanted to go for another walk, but this time as the sun went up. I changed my mind once we learned that sunrise was at 5:46am. To get up that early, I need a really compelling reason. "It's fun" just won't cut it.

As luck would have it, however, Bayla woke me up at 5:20am. As the cat people among us know, a hairball is a pretty compelling reason to get up. There are two choices, really: clean it up when you hear the hairball happening, or step in it the next morning.

So I got to see the sun rise after all. It was just me, pink clouds, a guy playing with a stick on the beach**, two pelicans, several terns, a latecomer fisherman, wind and rushing, foaming waves. It was glorious.

But still way too early. I was back in bed by 6:02am.



* I was a little worried that I'd have trouble with the steps. Aside from two rest breaks due to vertigo--don't ask me why, but when I look overhead I often lose my ability to orient myself in space--I did just fine. You'd think that after I looked overhead the first time, I would have learned not to do it again, but I needed that particular lesson twice.

** This seems to be a pretty common thing. After I finished staring at the dolphins, I went looking for a stick so I could poke at interesting things on the beach. I couldn't find one, so I used a big piece of shell instead. I was bitterly jealous of the nearby small child with his shovel.

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