The first few days of our beach vacation in Buxton, the weather and water were perfect at the beach, which left only one problem other than the fact that we were staying in the same house as family members for an entire week – the AC for the second level was not working. Since the beach house had three levels, for a while the AC on the top and bottom levels cooled off the middle level, which is where most of the bedrooms were. However, since all of the Abbotts are genetically programmed to sleep comfortably only in temperatures of 68 or under, we are able to detect immediately when an AC set for 68 has failed to reach that temperature. It’s our mutant power.
After sweating through the 78 degree heat like some kind of savage, I resolved to find the root of the AC problem. Scott helped by figuring out that the breaker for the mid level heat pump had been thrown, and when he switched it on… sparks from the heat pump. I’m no expert on air handlers, but sparks seemed bad. The AC repair guy who came out in the early afternoon concurred with that assessment, and the rental company eventually provided a workaround while the new heat pump was being shipped.
Now with two settings – hot or frigid.
Not all of our beach discoveries were bad, though. Laura and I discovered that our Contigo mugs were excellent for keeping beverages cold on the beach. When Laura figured out that her ice would remain frozen all day in her mug, she consumed enough Bloody Marys that it was a really good thing that the recent hurricane had lowered the degree of difficulty it took to return to the beach house by covering the walkway stairs with a mound of sand.
“There’s still ice in here! Quick, grab the vodka!”
On Wednesday the weather turned bad, with rain off and on, but mostly on, all day. Ryan and Aaron Travers, who were vacationing in nearby Rodanthe, livened things up by stopping by for a visit. This prompted my mom to reminisce about how Ryan as a teenager loved the song “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” but my mom remembered the title as something like “Please Sugar Me,” which is an even creepier title when your mother says it. On the plus side, this unexpectedly led later that week to Ryan performing the song (under its uncorrupted title) during Karaoke Night at Sting Wray’s
To keep the kids occupied during rainy days, Katy had brought a full-blown porcelain tea set to the beach because, by God, if our children are going to recreate a tea social that they have never actually even seen in real life, then they are going to use authentic table settings. Next time, we will add to the realism by having Tabby wear a diamond tiara instead of that uninspired plastic replica. Unfortunately for the authenticity of the kids’ tea party reproduction, Nathan didn’t get the memo about dress expectations.
“I was told there’d be farmers at this tea party…”
We made it through the rainy day and even found a dry spell to take a family picture before Alex had to leave.
After hours of being cooped up in the cottage, Tabby couldn’t even muster one smile.
Thursday the sun was back, although it was pretty windy and the ocean was too rough to swim in. Still, we could get back to old habits.
“Three bloody marys today and the ice still hasn’t melted! THIS MUG IS AMAZING!!!”
Mark is training the next generation of people who play catch as a form of psychological warfare
Friday was even windier than Thursday, so dad decided to scout out some other beaches to see if some were better than the one by the beach house. Because of the way the island bends, the wind can have different effects on different beaches. As it turned out, our beach, by the lighthouse, was a whole lot worse than the beach in Frisco.
After some debate about whether my dad’s scouting report on Frisco was accurate or whether it was just his wishful thinking, a debate, which, out of respect for my dad’s feelings, was held right in front of him, we decided to risk transporting sandy children in cars by going to the beach at Frisco.
It turned out that dad’s scouting report was right on. The Frisco beach is very flat, giving the kids tide pools as well as a lot of shallow surf to play in.
“I’m not moving from this spot until the surf deposits a pound of sand in my bathing suit.”
My dad is smiling because the flat beach made it, and I quote, “really hard for the kids to drown.”
And this guy showed up for some R&R, apparently after a rough time helping Gandalf rescue hobbits from ring wraiths in the Shire:
“Tobold Hornblower himself did not have better pipeweed than that of Frisco!”
That night we decided to use the last of the firewood to build a bonfire on the beach and make s’mores. We did this less because we actually wanted s’mores than because we had already paid for the firewood, which is a great reason to build a fire in 20+ mph winds. But with lighter fluid and determination, we managed to build a fire on the beach in winds that destroyed beach umbrellas.
You know the unofficial post office motto about not being stopped by rain or snow? We are like that with s’mores.
The next day was departure day – time to drive back to Richmond. Leaving didn’t feel so bad because it was pouring rain almost all morning.
Suck it, new arrivals. This is all about what’s good for me.