Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Kind of Beach Trip, Another First ...

"The Five S's" - we called the day, I and my friend Aa.: sun, sand, sweat, skin ... and smoke: that's about what I can say for my past Saturday (which would make it the 6th "s": just a coincidence - don't think so).

I traveled to VA Beach to see my friend and also show my aunt The Ocean. She's never seen it before. She's never dipped her foot in it. She is 58. It was a small step for us all, but a huge one for her.

The beach was your usual overcrowded affair at this time of the year, with plenty of skin sightings, some that should be seen and some, better not. But, hey, who am I to judge, right?!
We didn't lay out, but we walked on the beach (man, how is walking on HOT sand not a torture task in Survivor by now?!), on the boardwalk, we had lunch on a sunny patio, we ate waaayyy too much ice cream (my fix for the year, for sure; or maybe for a couple of years) and we shopped in cheesy stores, for cheesy things, as you’re supposed to, at the beach! For the day, we locked up "class" somewhere back in Suffolk, and we turned into your regular tourist.

What was unusual about the beach this time was the smoke. My Goodness, the wild fires in NC have been smoldering for a while now, and that thick, smoky, airy goop still persists in the Hampton Roads area. The wind and humidity made it unbearable! I cannot image what people that live closer to the actual fires have been breathing for the past few weeks, but I sure as heck can tell you it's not good! The air was thick, and smelled like bacon. It was heavy and there was no clear horizon if you looked out the Ocean. The freedom you normally feel on the beach was not there that day. You felt trapped, and your chest was heavy.

When the wind picked up and it also started pouring out of nowhere, we said 'good bye' to the smoky-sandy-sunny-sweaty skins and headed home.

The next day was a whole lot clearer, in Norfolk, and the harbor cruise was picture perfect. No more sand. No more smoke, I was actually asking myself where it all went?! I was shocked at how huge the Norfolk bay is. We went out for miles and miles, and we kept seeing land, and more towns, and bridges, and more ships docked in the NIT (Norfolk International Terminal). The land would just not let go!

With all those impressive military ships, that carry anything from coal to submarines and nuclear weapons, the one boat that fascinated me was the "vacuum cleaner" boat: a boat that sucks sediment off of the bottom of the golf, and through this complicated pipe system, takes it at the end of it, and deposits it into what looks like a natural sand barrier. Amazing! It was the most colorful boat, too, orange and green and maroon. Unlike all the other carriers this boat had personality: it had color and it had a full time job. They think of everything, don't they?!

Other things worth mentioning would be that I did get my fix for fresh seafood, at Pisces in Suffolk. My flounder was fresh, but my friend got the rockfish special and it was out of this world! Gotta love nuts, though!

One thing that sets this trip apart from all my other wanderings is that I did get to hold guns for the first time in my life. Not to shoot them (yet), but to hold them, so ... it was a first for me. They are everything I expected them to be: cold, unfriendly, and rejectful of flesh! But they smell good. They smell ... "technical", and you have all night to figure out what that means! I used to think I want to shoot them, when stressed, but ... now, I am not sure. We'll see ...

Another first was that I saw a “no swearing” sign in VA Beach. At least that’s what my friend calls them and even if they’re not that, I think of them as that, and they’re pretty cool! I am a sucker for original signs, like a bar with the longest name (also on this trip) and the “no swearing” sign which also made my picture collage. Because of the "no swearing", a store could not be called anything but "Oh... Fudge".

What I would do differently next time?! My poor fried skin tells me to remember the sun lotion next time, and my growing hips to stay miles away from any kind of ice cream! Man, that was disgusting, thinking about it...

I should sign this piece: "A., the occasional sweets hater", but I won't! People do silly things when under pressure, let me tell you!

For pictures, please click here.

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