June 2017

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Bobby and I went to Ocean City again this weekend. We took the Goldens again and also met my parents this time. We had a great time. We took a half-day from work on Friday and made really good time getting there; the traffic over the Bay Bridge can be hell. We arrived 15 minutes after my parents and, after getting unpacked, headed to the beach. The shelling was really good again this time, and we found several sand dollars as well as a number of pretty shells.

Like last time, it was cold and windy when we arrived. Aside from the late-afternoon beach walk (which my parents skipped), we stuck indoors on Friday: went to dinner at Adolfo's, a lovely Italian restaurant on the Boardwalk, and went back to the hotel to hang around the pool. Saturday, though, the weather was gorgeous: 68F/20C, sunny, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Bobby and I took the Goldens down to the beach at about noon; within a few minutes, we had stripped down to summertime clothing and removed our shoes, the weather was so perfect. Not surprisingly, we were among the only people on the beach. I told Bobby that I thought it was fitting that we were probably among the first people of 2014 to sit on the OC beach in beach chairs! :D

We ended up staying for close to three hours and both of us ended up getting a little sun: not enough to hurt (and it's already faded, except for a very stark stripe across my right bicep) but enough to remind us that summer is coming. We went next to the Boardwalk. Poor Lance becomes frightened by too much excitement and noise, and this was the busiest we've ever had him on the Boardwalk. He is particularly frightened of people on skateboards, especially since, when we were there in February, there was a guy dressed in a blue Grateful Dead bear outfit that kept skateboarding past and terrified poor Lance. We had dinner reservations at 7 and so decided to have a snack while on the Boardwalk, so I held the Goldens on a bench, and Lance jumped up next to me and curled into a little ball as much behind my body as he could manage. People kept coming by, seeing Alex and exclaiming over him, followed immediately by, "Aww, there's another one!" when they saw Lance wedged in beside me.

We had dinner that night at the Shark on the Harbor, which is a locavore restaurant over in West Ocean City on the commercial fishing harbor. This was Bobby's and my third time there and the first time for my parents. Dad didn't seem so sure about it--they didn't have chicken on the menu that night! (the menu changes twice a day)--but ordered cheesesteak steam buns for an appetizer and a burger that he loved, as well as having a bit of my wild mushroom bruschetta. I had the "stinky beach flatbread pizza" for my main, which was made with a delicious smoked tomato "gravy" and cave-aged cheddar, along with a DuClaw EuForia from the visiting beers menu: a dark beer with a caramel undertone. Yum. (DuClaw is one of my favorite local breweries and made the first beer that I ever drank and liked as a newly minted 21-year-old--Bad Moon Porter--and that started me on ten blissful years of skipping "piss beer" in favor of dark brews, which used to get me viewed askance before craft brewing/microbrews became more mainstream in our area. It's no longer the predictable progression of Miller Lite, Bud Lite, and Coors Lite.) Bobby ordered the mako shark bites for his app and swordfish served over coconut-wasabi risotto for his main. My mom picked at all of our different appetizers and had the classic can't-go-wrong-in-Maryland crabcake sandwich. Everyone loved their meals, and I think we won our parents over to the Shark.

We skipped dessert so that we could make the requisite trip to Dumser's Dairyland for ice cream ("homemade ice keem," in my mom's parlance) later in the evening.

The funny thing is that Bobby and I initially planned this trip for Saint Patrick's Day. An Irish trad band that we like a lot was playing at Shenanigan's on the Boardwalk. However, very early in the weekend, it became clear that St. Patrick's Day in Ocean City was not going to be our scene. It was, in Bobby's memorable terms, "amateur hour": People who go out a couple of times a year to get sloshed and act like assclowns. While taking our walk on the Boardwalk, we passed Shenanigans, which was already packed at 4 in the afternoon. Many of the local bars (including the one in our hotel) were offering drink specials starting at 9 AM ... so yeah, if we could even get into Shenanigans to see the band, we didn't think we were going to have a good time. People were, for example, yelling at the Goldens on the Boardwalk. One man, as we passed an outdoor area for one of the bars, said of the Goldens, "They didn't even notice us!" and I almost said, "If you offered them a beer, they'd notice you!"

My dad aged quite a bit during the trip. My dad is 71 years old. At the beginning of the trip, he was referring to himself as "almost 80 years old." Midway through Saturday, he was "an 80-year-old man." By Saturday night, he'd aged even more to "an 81-year-old man." As in, "I can't walk that far in the cold! I'm an 81-year-old man!" I guess by now he's probably edging up on 85.

I was very sorry to leave on Sunday morning, even though we're already planning to go back next month for the International Kite Festival, and Bobby is trying to get our director to agree to send us to a special-ed conference the first weekend in May.

Saturday's blissful weather thawed my blood for spring. March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, right? Well, it is March 17, lamb time, one would think. Well, I think the lion done et the lamb. Sunday, the temperatures dropped again until, by suppertime in Manchester, it was below freezing again. And ... we got another snowstorm last night. :^| This one struck mostly to the south--we got 4 inches (10 cm) here in Manchester--and Ocean City got a foot of snow (30 cm) last night. Okay, so within just over a day, we went from sitting on the beach in summer clothes to that same beach under a foot of snow. Pretty much every school district in Maryland, aside from out west, was closed today I think. I am beyond even wanting snow days at this point since I fear our spring break is in jeopardy at this point and would rather have the time off in mid-April when it's nice outside.

Bobby went snowboarding today, the first time he got to snowboard on a snow day since he spent most of the season injured. It figures: We have a record-breaking year for snow, and he spends most of it injured. This year was the sixth-highest snowfall recorded for Baltimore and the highest since 1931. And, in Manchester, we got quite a bit more than they got down in Baltimore, as a whole, over the course of the winter. I'd love to see the stats for Manchester/Carroll County this winter. Since coming home from England on January 2 (when we flew into a snowstorm) through the middle of last week, I think I can count on one hand the number of days when our yard was more bare ground than snow. It seemed like the snow would melt and, a day later, we'd get more snow. We still have patches of snow and ice from the combination of an ice storm and two consecutive snowstorms that left us with almost 3 feet (90 cm) of snow on the ground in Manchester.

For all who celebrate it: a happy Saint Patrick's Day to you! Bobby and I are going to O'Lordan's later tonight for a couple pints of plain and to listen to some music. It's crowded and rowdy but there are no green tutus and the people there generally haven't been bar-hopping since 9 AM. In other words, it is the one time per year that I willingly subject myself to crowds and yet enjoy myself.

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