Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Waves and Wind

Today was World Oceans Day, so naturally I went to the ocean.

Sandbridge provided the ocean, a breeze so stiff it took the umbrella spinning down the beach and my pink beach cover-up to the people just north of us and a firm, sandy beach to walk on. Except not to Back Bay Wildlife Preserve, which was fenced off and covered in warning signs, a fact we didn't discover until we'd walked that far.

Lunch came from the Cabana, a steamed shrimp and crab leg joint next to a pastel behemoth of a condo with a pool boasting arching jets of water, open only to members. I'll never comprehend a pool on the ocean and we saw many of them along the coast today.

We scored shrimp, slaw and fries from the Cabana's lackadaisical staff and escaped to eat it at a picnic shelter at the south of Sandbridge with the sound of surf in the distance. After peeling shrimp, we took our seasoning-covered hands to the ocean to clean them.

The forecast had been for partly cloudy today, but luck delivered a gorgeous day with far more sun than clouds. Not long after we arrived, we saw three life guards bolt for the water where a person looked to be in distress a ways out. Turned out to be another lifeguard who was just testing them, but who knew?

Later, one of the lifeguards walked up to the lifeguard in the chair near us and said in a high, affected voice, "Are those dolphins out there? How far do you let them come in?" With a disgusted shake of his head, he said, "They're wild animals, lady. We don't tell them what to do."

Clearly he'd had one too many dumb questions asked of him today.

Besides walking on the beach, attempting to read Sunday's Washington Post in the stiff breeze (challenging), including "5 Facts You Didn't Know About Sunscreen," and passing commentary on people who walked by, we really didn't do anything. A little dozing, maybe, and a whole lot of surrendering to the pounding surf and its ability to relax us.

Once the lifeguards blew their whistles and left at 6:00, we moved out chairs down to the water's edge as the beach cleared out and the sunlight began to go golden. A photograph of our deepening shadows showed two heads, both hatted.

After a trip to the northern bath house to shed my bathing suit and don street clothes, we made our way to the fishing pier cafe at Chic's Beach, a place I'd never been. With plastic zip-up windows all wide open, we sat at a table overlooking the beach where a massive wedding shoot was going on.

And by massive, I mean at one point I counted a dozen photographers for two brides and one groom. We had no clue what was going on or why so much photo coverage was necessary. Even more interesting were the guys waist-deep in the ocean casting nets further down the beach.

What mattered to us was a table facing the ocean, a dozen James River oysters (I've now eaten James River oysters in Memphis, Oxford, Mississippi and Can Can) and a pink and blue sunset off to our left. I couldn't have wished for a better way to wind down a day at the beach.

For dinner I had their signature seafood tower, an impressive molded stack of lump crabmeat, avocado, shrimp, mango salsa and roasted red pepper coulis, which arrived in a state of disrepair, the upper third of the tower having crashed to the plate en route. No longer picture perfect, but not a big deal.

Dessert was chocolate heath bar pie, lighter than you'd think, as we watched the net fisherman pull out lights and continue working in the water even once the sun had set. We were the lone holdouts on the pier so once the staff began zipping up the plastic windows, we hit the road again.

Our final stop was the Thirsty Camel in Norfolk where we took beer and tequila to the patio to sip under the stars. Once again, we were right next to a fishing pier where guys were departing, buckets and rods in hand, as others arrived for a little night fishing.

All at once, a woman came out and said she was joining us and sat down, her companion doing the same. After introducing herself, she explained her dilemma: she was in love with a man, had been in a relationship with him for a year, but was pretty sure he was gay.

"There's something odd about him," he companion/friend said. "He's so pretty, though," she said by way of justifying it. That's not one you're going to win, honey.

We were joined yet again by another woman ("Come sit down, baby girl!"), this one a transplant from D.C. who'd lived all over the world, leading to a discussion of heat and humidity (Bangkok's heat is worse than ours, she said), why Washington isn't all that hot and her upcoming hip replacement at MCV.

I got the feeling she'd have talked to us all night if we hadn't had to drive home.

Ah, but we did. World Oceans Day was drawing to a close and we were due back in the city for real life. For the record, we'd seen plenty of dolphins all day long and asked not a single stupid question.

 I don't know about the rest of the world, but I really enjoyed my ocean today. Isn't that the point?

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