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©July 2005

Carol Jane Remsburg



A Day at the Beach





It was Friday, the first day of my vacation.  It was also the gateway to the 4th of July weekend, and I was set to take my daughter to Ocean City to ride those corny old rides, walk the boards, shop, sightsee, indulge in treats, and dabble our toes in the ocean.  I set aside one day each summer to face the masses of people in the resort town that lies only about twenty miles east of our home.  Some folks would think I would visit more often, but they don't know me too well.


We were up early, at least hubby and I were, enjoying the quiet of 6 AM on the back porch with our coffee and waiting for the newspaper to be delivered.  It's the best time of the day, before the work-a-day traffic builds or even the heat of the early summer's day has a chance to flair.  He had to work and Erin and I would be gone most of the day.  It was time for quiet conversation and a little commiseration.


After hubby headed off to work, I shuffled some of the laundry from the washer out to the clothesline to dry while we were gone and picked up the kitchen mess from the previous evening.  Erin was up early as well, without any prompting but opted not to push me to leave for the beach at 8AM.  We carefully packed what we thought we'd want with us, camera, $$, some sunscreen, and a towel (for that beach sand that was sure to stick to our feet and ankles).


It was 10AM when we pulled out of the driveway.  Avoiding the five speed traps between home and Ocean City, I felt I'd done well.  I had an agenda that day.  I was searching for another portrait of a wave crashing into a lighthouse, it's a series of photos we already have, but this one is the best.  And the Ocean Gallery on the Boardwalk in Ocean City has the best collection, for the best price.  That was my first mission upon parking in the inlet parking lot and walking up that long stretch of boardwalk up to 2nd Street.  Within minutes, the prized pix was mine for my hubby.  It was large and awkward, but our destination was to return to the truck and store it safely away until we left for home.  On the way back, a "name on rice" necklace was the second item on the agenda, Erin had waited two years to get another one.  She knew exactly what she wanted, the dolphin with the purple liquid and the blue flowered beads to accessorize the necklace that is strung on a long strand of leather. 


Still walking back to the truck, we stopped at Fisher's Popcorn and picked Erin's dad up a medium container of the sticky popcorn.  By that time I felt hotter than the kettle they were melting the caramel in.  We scooted away and finally made it to the truck and stored away all our loot.  I headed directly to my favorite little shop in all of OC, Ocean City Souvenirs, it sits right at the entrance to Trimpers Rides and has the coldest air conditioning in the world with fans that generate nearly gale force winds.  All I could say was, "Ahhhhh!" 


Inside the shop is a wonderful array of t-shirts, wind chimes, paper weights, and every type of 50¢ toy imaginable.  It's a fun place and some of the stock never changes, but each year a portion does as we check out every item, knowing we'll return several more times before make our last visit along with our purchases.


Both of us had sufficiently cooled off to brave the heat again.  Even with the pervasive mist blowing onshore from the ocean, when the sun broke through, it was blistering.  I had been amazed over how thin the crowds were, but it was still early on Friday.  The amazing masses would soon arrive.


It was time for our first treat—Frozen Custard from Kohr's.  Ice Cream is wonderful yet it will never match the incredible richness of frozen yogurt.  Erin opted for the peanutbutter/chocolate and I chose the strawberry/banana.  Beneath the overhang of the storefront at the entrance to the pier, we hid from the hot sun and enjoyed what little ocean breeze crept through.


They were just opening the pier rides so we decided to walk out to see if there was anything interesting there.  Nothing really, I wanted to walk out to the end of the pier, it had been years since I had.  It was normally a quiet place for those who fished and wanted to enjoy the lullaby of the ocean away from so many people.  There was a barren stretch of pier after the rides ended and then a gate.  It caught me short, there was a fishing shack there and to get to the end of the pier you had to pay 50¢ per person to walk through whether you decided to fish or buy tackle or not.  I had to laugh and pulled out four quarters.  It would be worth it just for the view back at the beach as well as the vista of the ocean before me.


I snapped off a few more pictures, the heavy mist made it hard for any clear shots.  Meanwhile, I was enjoying the cooling breezes as the boards beneath my feet gently swayed.  Erin, however, did not enjoy the swaying piers and didn't trust them not to pitch her directly into the ocean.  The previous weekend shark attacks in Florida had worried us both.  It didn't take long and we were down the ramp and heading for the truck again.  It wasn't yet time for Trimpers to open yet, but it was time for us to get our toes wet in the surf.


It was a long walk across the sand.  Carrying our sneakers and socks, we walked to the water's edge and along the foaming surf.  It felt marvelously cool and wonderful.  And if I didn't have my own ingrained fears of sharks, we'd have been cavorting in the waves, but I'm not that brave anymore.


After a while, we knew it was time for the rides to open.  Back we trekked across the sand to the truck and the towel to wipe away the sand encrusting our feet and legs.  It was a good rest stop sitting on the tailgate. 


Onward we went and purchased our wrist straps for all of Trimpers rides.  We went to the Merry-Go-Round first and took turns trying to figure out which animal we'd ride, and got the giggles.  I was simply adamant that I wasn't riding the pig, I felt the resemblance was too close.  The music was classic and the rhythm of the machine was an old friend.  I was able to look across at my daughter and know another memory was in the making.


From there we rode the Himalaya, a whipping, fast ride with loud music I've loved since I was little—except the force of gravity was a little greater this time around.  Together we laughed like fools.  Then it was on the to the bumper cars, where Erin got embarrassed because she got the dud car, there's always one in each round, and poor kid, it was hers and she was stuck four times and the operator had to keep pushing her out of it.  At that point, it was another 'store break' for frigid air.  I felt as if I'd been saved—again.  It was really hot outside. 


We went through all the goodies and sundry and began to make some choices on what our purchases would be as I kept moving from frigid blower to blower.  Then it was back for a few more rides until we hit the last—Erin's all-time favorite, The Haunted House which has to have been around since, err, the early 70's if not before.  They update it every year, but so is the gum stuck on the winged doors in spots as well.  I hate that ride because it's very harsh and jerky and it makes me dizzy.  However, Erin loves it and won't go without me—so we went.  She also knew that was the last ride and it was time for Thrasher's French fries and fresh lemonade.  I bought a large (I don't know why, we can't eat a large, but it's my personal goal to get sick eating a large bucket).  We tried.  We failed.  It was awesome.


At that point, the crowds had finally arrived en mass.  There were more people than I could comfortably navigate.  It was time for our final trip to the souvenir shop and that blessedly cold air.  We shopped and cooled off and made our final selections, cheap little wind chimes from the glow-in-the-dark, to the plastic twirlers, to the larger nylon one with a lighthouse on it.  Then we bought a motion sensor lighthouse with sound effects and a light. 


Satisfied with our purchases, it was time to climb into the truck and turn on the a/c and head for home.  The teen was sunburned, tired, and very happy.  Me, the mom, I was just dead.  It was time to go.  After paying the parking attendant $10 for parking, we navigated our way out of OC and home was our target and a nap would have been extremely welcome, but we know that never happens.  Still, an hour of quiet can work wonders as a restorative.


All in all, it was a great day.  I can still wait until next year to do it again.  It'll take me just that long to rest up.



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