Monday, December 20, 2010

A Day at the Beach

In early March 2000, I took a week off and stayed in Raleigh for a mini-vacation. At that time of year, the difference in the weather in NC and NJ couldn’t be greater. Growing up in NC, I became spoiled by the early springs we enjoyed and came to take it for granted. Spring starts a few weeks before the ‘spring equinox’. However, our spring starts in early March, sometimes in February. Not in NJ. Some years, the state goes straight from winter to summer and skips over spring.

I remember how mild NC was that visit. Even though the temps were in the low 60’s, the place felt like Miami Beach compared to the tail-end of a NJ winter where temps barely budge past the freezing mark on some weeks. The temperature was so nice, my mom and I decided to take the babies for a beach trip. They had never been to the beach, so I was anxious to see how they’d respond when they first saw the ocean. I was also anxious to see how they would handle riding on a four hour round trip.

My mom and I took her PT Cruiser. I took the back seat out to make room for the babies. Abby and Andy eagerly clambered in and down I-40 we went. (Father stayed behind because he gets car sick easily.)This would only be the third or fourth trip to a NC beach in my life. When I was growing up, our beach trips were almost always to Myrtle Beach. As a matter of fact, I think I have been to more Florida Beaches than to any in NC. This would also be the first time I had traveled on I-40 east of I-95. When I was a kid, I-40 ended in Greensboro. Back then, a beach trip inside NC involved going down US-421 or US-64. Both highways winded through speed traps and one horse towns of no consequence in eastern NC.

I was surprised how fast we made it to the beach. Since it was early March, we had the beach to ourselves. We had no problems parking. Now came the moment of truth. I put the leashes on the babies, escorted them through the dunes, released them from their leashes and set them free. At first, they looked up at me for direction. I started jogging down the beach, and they started running after me. I know dogs don’t smile, but they almost seemed to be smiling. In their unfettered state, they were happy and unrestrained.

They loved the beach itself, but the next moment of truth would be how they handled the water. Here, they were a little restrained. I think they were skittish to get in either because the waves scared them or because I didn’t get in. Later, I found out the water was around 60 degrees, well above the temperatures we had to swim in at Lindley Pool when I was a competitive swimmer. I would have got in the water had I known how mild the ocean temperature was. That was a lost opportunity I still regret. The babies did walk around ankle-deep in the water. They were intrigued by it, and it wouldn’t have taken much to lure them in.

We spent the afternoon running around on the beach, playing fetch with a Frisbee and tennis ball, as well as playing tug-o-war with Abby. We jogged to a pier a half mile away and back. The babies were absolutely thrilled by our little jaunt. I also developed a mild sunburn, a farmer’s tan at that.

Eventually, the babies tired, and we had to call it a day. On the trip back, the babies slept soundly and peacefully all the way back to Raleigh. The babies saw the second biggest ocean in the world and had a great time.

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