The next morning, Mom, Dad, and I checked out of the hotel and got back on the road. It was another early day compared to my usual sleep schedule and I was feeling it. I refused Mom's offers to sit up front so I could put my headphones on, close my eyes, and lean my head back. On our trips when I was a kid, I would've stretched my legs out sideways on the seat with a pillow against the door. I had my pillow with me, but there was too much stuff piled up in the seat behind my Dad to stretch out. It was all right though; I spent the next couple of hours in varying states of semi-consciousness.
We stopped for lunch at a Bob Evans, and considering the church crowd was pouring in, we didn't have to wait too long for a table. Their stuffed french toast was all right but nothing compared to Doughboys's version with honey, ricotta, and banana.
An hour later, we were cruising the main drag in Ocean City, Maryland looking for the realtor's office. Since I was still in the back seat and address numbers were few and small, I was straining to read them out the side window. After some fifteen minutes of calling out numbers, I glanced forward and immediately recognized that the cross streets corresponded to the addresses. (E.g., 67th Street is where the 6700s start.) I was a little ticked that no one had mentioned this, but Mom and Dad just hadn't known. Not enough city time in their pasts. I relaxed back and told them what cross street to look for.
Mom called my sister-in-law's cell to coordinate meeting and it turned out that she, my brother, and niece were only behind us by 20 or so blocks. Our timing couldn't have been much better. We picked up the keys and met them in the garage of the condo.
Like every other rental I've ever stayed in by the beach, the condo's decor was dominated by fish, shells, and beach scenes. My bathroom, e.g., had starfish-covered wallpaper, a scallop shell soap dish, a school of fish sculpture hanging on the wall, a framed print of a rough map of the peninsula we were on, and a painting of a lighthouse by the ocean. The kitchen even had a large ceramic crab on its island.
Aside from the beach mania decor though, the place was pretty awesome. 4 bed, 4 bath, all stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, washer/dryer, fireplace, an HD TV in the living room and smaller flat screen TVs in each bedroom, lots of large windows, and 2 balconies, 1 facing the ocean, the other the bay. All right on the beach.
Of course, since I'm single I ended up in the interior cave bedroom while the married couples took the master suites at either end of the condo. My room did have one window of glass brick, but it was facing the lobby so I left the blinds down. I could've chosen my niece's room across the hall in theory, but I couldn't take all the pink and I knew Little Red would love it. Besides, my bathroom only had a massive shower stall (5' by 5' covered in stone tiles- I want one!) and at four years old, Little Red hates showers.
As we carried everything in from our vehicles, Little Red bounded around in excitement. "The beach is ready," she said, reminding us of our purpose there. I don't think she'd ever been to the ocean before, and we could see it through the sliding glass doors in the living room which opened up to one of the balconies. After the rest of us had recovered a bit from our respective drives, Mom declared that it was time to walk on the beach.
After a nice sandy stroll and dinner, Little Red was still totally wound up, chattering incessantly. Just watching her run around the living room made me exhausted. The rest of the adults were pretty tired too, and Little Red finally consented to sleep once we started going to bed. Too bad my mattress felt akin to sleeping on a box spring.
The next morning when I emerged from my room, everyone was gone. There was a note on the floor in front of my door: "We all gone to beach. Love, Dad" with a key to the condo on it. In the living room, a propped up whiteboard listed my brother and sister-in-law's cell phone numbers. I looked out the sliding glass doors and saw them camped out directly in front.
Being freshly showered and dressed, I didn't feel like slathering myself with sunscreen and then getting covered in sand, so I decided to hang out until they returned for lunch. I watched them from the balcony for a while-- building castles, taking turns holding Little Red's hand at the edge of the surf, sitting in beach chairs, lying on the blanket-- until I couldn't stand the wind anymore.
One year ago at TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 9
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