At last! The epic saga of our trip to the beach. We left Saturday morning and headed east. About lunchtime, as we were getting ready to pass through Williamston, I remembered that there used to be a barbeque place we would pass, coming from Greenville, back in our college days. We looked around and there it was! Of course we stopped - I love eastern Carolina barbeque! It's always a good sign that there's a brisk business going on, and even at 2 PM there were folks waiting in line for some of this barbeque. They didn't have hushpuppies, which IS kind of lame, and I have to take points off for that, but the 'Que was lean and vinegary-hot, as it should be. It didn't top my brother's barbeque, but then, when he cooks a hog, it's a work of art. And a hell of a party, to boot. But I digress... I love the old churches and houses that still cling to the roadside down east. I'm intrigued by the cemetery that lies beyond that fence. The economy isn't as brisk out here, away from the Research Triangle, and it shows. But on the plus side, the wonderful old buildings haven't all been razed to make room for yet another subdivision or strip mall. The raping of Wake County by carpetbagger developers is a source of great distress to me. It was a beautiful place, once. This old house isn't long for this world, I fear, but it has a wonderful spookiness to it. I could easily imagine it as a sentient creature, peering at us from its empty-eyed windows. It's places like this that make me want to stop the car and get out to take a ton of pictures. That would mean we would never get to the beach, so I had to settle for this shot. There have been wildfires burning down east lately, affecting the air quality as far west as Greensboro. I don't know if this was part of the actual wildfires that are plaguing Washington County, but it's the right area. Creepy, isn't it? I saw houses bordering on woods that had dug trenches along the edge of the trees; a precautionary measure, perhaps? At last we reached the beach! The traffic during the week of the Fourth of July is ungodly - it took us over an hour to go 20 miles up the beach - a serious detriment to going during this time of year, and a powerful inducement to go in September, when the crowds are thinner.
The guys couldn't wait to hit the beach in their new swimwear (the old suits were getting a bit indecent). The Bohemian poses for me - isn't he the quintessential surfer dude here? They discovered some boogie boards in the closet and had tons of fun riding the waves. The ocean was quite calm, which isn't always a given this far out into the Atlantic. I think the Gulf stream might have been the predominant current, as opposed to the colder and rougher Labrador that also lies offshore here and vies with the Gulf. We sure saw a lot of seaweed and jellyfish!
We took walks in the morning along the tidal pools, looking for interesting shells and sea life. The Bohemian attempts rather futilely to keep his shorts dry. It seems weird to me too - he usually is drenched from just playing in the creek, so why worry about it now? Kids...psshhh! One morning we found a hermit crab in one of the tidal pools, and the Bohemian was pretty excited about it. I'm not big on catching and keeping wild creatures - I think it's a selfish and ecologically irresponsible lesson to teach. So we looked at the crab, took his picture, and let him go. Isn't he cute? Can you see us reflected in the crab's shell? Very cool and totally unplanned! As a career vampire, I normally don't rise at dawn, but it's usually worth it at the beach. I got up one morning and found the wild horses right outside the house. The story on these horses is that they're the descendants of horses left here by Sir Richard de Grenville in the 1580s. I think the original Arabian genes have gotten a bit diluted over the centuries, but they're still a big tourist draw. People come up the beach in droves of tour jeeps to get a look at these guys, and I'm always amazed that the horses don't kick or bite anyone - you should see the amusement park-bred idiots that think they should put their toddler, or their pregnant wife right next to one of these for a photo-op. The literature on the horses specifically says you should keep a distance of at least 25 feet from them - guess some folks either can't read, or just think it doesn't apply to them. I worry that if and when a horse bites one of them, the poor horse will be held accountable. This stallion on the left was quite the alpha male. He actually came after us one morning, as we were trying to get back the house from a walk on the beach. I advised the hubman to "walk quickly, but don't run, and don't make eye contact", which worked, but man! I can't believe anyone would want to get up close with this guy, other than his baby, and his baby's mama, seen at the right. Cheddar and Stilton enjoyed the fresh air and practiced their samurai sword techniques every morning. (I know - what????) They may look cute and cuddly, but they are in fact, deadly foes. The sunrises were awesome! I'm always amazed when I take pictures like this. Have I mentioned lately that I love my camera?
I love the bird balanced on the back of this horse (yes, that's the bad-ass stallion he's sitting on - go figure!). He sat up there to escape being harassed by a flock of black-colored birds (I couldn't tell what they were). He's some kind of fishing bird - look at that beak and those feet! Of course I had to have a red drink, in honor of Bea. The briny-ness of using Clamato instead of tomato or V-8 is especially yummy at the beach.
Looking at the world with an artist's eye reveals wonderful surprises in the mundane. I love the patterns made by the fence, the grass, and the sun upon them both.
It tickled me no end that this horse was up on the dunes one afternoon, watching the people. The people on the beach never noticed her there.
We had a birthday while we were at the beach - my sister's French exchange student turned 16, and my mother made her famous Million Layer Chocolate cake for him. I call this "Two Jewish Mothers Light The Cake" - aren't they the epitome of motherly? I'm afraid that poor guy will never be the same after spending a week with this gang - my father only speaks the International Language of Obscenities, and my mother; well, let's just say she has a certain je ne sais quoi. No, really, I don't know what it is. I love her dearly, but I need an aspirin - are you with me now?
So we survived the week at the beach, more or less. The scenery was beautiful, but the people were everywhere. I did manage to not get sunburned, which is a vast relief to those who have to live with me, and now my sister and I know exactly what we've been missing, don't we baby? Next time, we will be like the little rabbit, and RUN!!