Monday, December 3, 2012

December by the shore

31 Dec.: Thoroughly enjoyable evening with Donna & Greg, Vince & Mary, and Tom & Cheryl.  Mary baked sourdough bread especially for me due to my diet restrictions. Thank you, Mary!

30 Dec., Sunday: Thoroughly enjoyable evening with Greg & Donna, Dick, Clark & Elizabeth after today's drive from Florence, SC to Columbia.

29 Dec.: Checked out of Sands Villas barely on time at 11am and decided to drive rather than walk on the beach.  Seems it was a bad choice as Cynthia had excruciating back pain for several days thereafter.

26 Dec.: Wonderful thunderstorm, with tornado winds (one sighted nearby), propelled the surf high.  Breakfast at IHOP was satisfactory except that Ron almost left without paying the bill.  More copies and conversation at Staples, more holiday cards from WallyWorld plus an electric heater to warm my perpetually phrozen Smooch Smooch.  Although the Christmas cards were ready on Christmas day, no recipients were to be found close by, so the cards were mailed today.  By then it was time for lunch at Ruby Tuesday, and now we are returned "home" deciding to observe the big waves up close while staying dry.  This is going to be a windy expedition.

25 Dec. Merry Christmas!  I was good!  Oh OH HO HO HO!   Lovely Christmas day; we had to rush to breakfast because the Resort Grill stopped serving at nine to preparation their Christmas brunch, stuff we cannot eat.  Ron munched on a piece of bread as we walked onto the beach through an interested crowd of stationary sea gulls.  Wow, did those gulls evidence their interest, practically flying in my face and close enough to be a bit threatening.  Cynthia wanted to feed the birds, but first we walked 50 yards down the beach with bread in pocket.  Then Ron pulled the bread out and gave a sample to Cynthia who instantly attracted a milling "flight" of gulls.  Did you know that gulls can hover like a humming bird?  And they can pick thrown tidbits out of the air like a circus seal.  After walking for 3.5  hours on the beach, correspondence became the event of the day.  Almost all of the letters, cards, E-cards are written and will be in tomorrow's mail along with one gift Cynthia will return.  We lucked out finding a restaurant open this evening "Bistro by the Sea". Cynthia tried the door but thought it was locked;  we called and they had a place for us at the bar.  The bartender was quite a charmer, working as a teller at a bank during the day, bartending at night, plus completing her undergrad studies in business administration.  She takes her GRE in Feb with hopes of becoming a bank branch manager.  The way she managed that bar  by herself she will do well managing people in any field.   The tuna had a coconut sauce that was delicious; baked vegetables were also marvelous, and boiled red potatoes made a delicious Christmas dinner.  Especially after our only other choice was a Thai restaurant or McDonald's. Merry Merry Merry!

Feeding the Flock 

24 Dec, Mon:   I hope I don't get a lump of coal.  I been good.  Lovely two hour walk on the beach followed by dinner at Island Grille; the risotto is something else.  Cynthia ate a filet.  The Candlelight service at Shepherd of the Sea was lovely; the sanctuary was packed.  While it is wonderful to hear the carols, it is hard to sing with an organist who is not so lively.   Santa arrived while we were gone; OH did we have fun.

23 Dec, Sunday was very pleasant; we worshipped at Shepherd of the Sea Lutheran Church, Atlantic Beach,  which happens to be one of  only ten Lutheran churches in NE NC.  The pews were packed on this last Sunday in Advent; if you are Lutheran this is where you attend church.  The pastor had a nice message, the choir was good, and the post worship fellowship was warm and rewarding.  Well, not really rewarding because we cannot eat those sugary foodstuffs that women bring to church gatherings.  After a grilled chicken salad at the condo restaurant we walked the beach for two hours in sunshine followed by dinner at the Island Grille.  The risotto was prepared for us without oil or butter.

22 Dec, Sat: Tomorrow.  I hope the post office is open so that I can get my first two Christmas cards into the mail before Christmas.

Today arrived:  Cynthia pontificates:  The world did not end yesterday.  We woke up at the north pole of NC on the ATL seaboard where the temps dipped to 30 and the wind is 25 MPH.   One of us did not want to walk today.   Reading material over breakfast was the stock market report from Gabelli (30 June 2011) with brilliant insight, "The big decision last quarter was releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in an attempt to ease prices.  This is not sound policy. The global release of 60 million barrels of crude represents  about 1/5 of 1 % of annual demand.  This cannot matter for more than a few days at most.  It didn't.  There is a good chance that the Reserve will now be refilled at higher prices and the US taxpayer is out the difference. Besides, there was no strategic emergency.  We ask again, where are the adults in Washington?  The debt ceiling debate is tragic political theatre. Who are these people who think nothing of playing politics with the integrity of the United States, arguing with each other like children and holding out default as a viable option?  Maybe in a move of solidarity we should all not pay our bills next month."  There is no new age, just the same OLD AGE where politics will never change.  Life continues.  Today someone will exhale their last breath releasing oxygen into the far reaches of the cosmos that will be inhaled as a newborn's first breath.  Amen!   Ron ran off to the library, WallyWorld, and the PO to print and mail Christmas letters before June.   I am too-much-over-excited-with new software: Adobe Acrobat X Professional Creative Suite.   This old mind is studying Acrobat for beginners.

21 Dec.: Tomorrow.  The OLD FOLKS vignette has been fun, but it is time to quit before it becomes overused. Cool night for good sleeping.  Even so we slept in.  Windy today with rough surf - pretty awesome.  We walked with the wind on the beach for an hour to Fort Macon and enjoyed the educational displays about barrier islands & natural communities thereon.  Return trip on roadway successfully kept sand out of our eyes.  The other bird we see most frequently on the beach is the willett.

20 Dec.:  58 degrees or lower overnight.  Marvelously cool sleeping.  Breakfast, rest, walk, rest, dinner anticipated ... OLD FOLKS.  Wait a minute, during our Beach walk this noon time, a pod of six or eight dolphins 50 yards offshore kept pace with us as we walked.  It was quite fascinating to see them intermittently surfacing.  One "dancing" dolphin stood on tail for a couple of seconds.  Excitements for folks of all ages.  Sunset was blue for our walk to dinner; Amy at the Island Grille made sure our portion of sea trout was adequate (Thanks).

19 Dec.:  Last night with windows wide open, we were cool enough most of the night, and Cynthia rested quite well without much stomach or back pain..  Today was primarily uneventful (OLD FOLKS). We walked the beach for a couple of hours and again to dinner.  The portion of sea trout this evening was disappointingly small, an unbelievable contrast to yesterday.

18 Dec.:  We slept well last night although the timeshare apartment is too warm for us.  NOW that is a real indicator that this blog is written by old folks for old folks !!  Let's not even suggest that the egg white veggie omelets are a highlight of the day and that we are excited by anticipation of another 5pm fish dinner at our favorite, familiar Island Grille.  Highlights for OLD FOLKS.  Our two hour walk on the beach is a bit beyond old folks.  Cynthia provided punctuation to dinner (sea trout) by blacking out momentarily.  ER was quick to see us and ran a dozen tests immediately, cardiac, brain, blood, urine.  The reason she has had a tummy ache for two weeks is a bladder infection, so Cipro was prescribed, and my honey is feeling much better.  No telling what caused the momentary blackout, but her blood pressure was extremely high upon arrival at the hospital, and her monitor showed signs of pvc's.  Excitements for OLD FOLKS.

 17 Dec.:  See entry above.  OLD FOLKS.  Wahoo.

16 Dec., Sunday:  All of our favorite restaurants were closed, so we enjoyed satisfying salads at Ruby Tuesday followed by the excitement of re-provisioning at Wally World.  OLD FOLKS. 

15 Dec., Sat: Packed!  We are off to Atlantic Beach, NC for two weeks.  We will be in Columbia, SC for New Year's Eve with the gang! After driving, we thoroughly enjoyed our walk on the beach to the Island Grille at 5pm for a Rockfish dinner.

A commentary by Cynthia about hysteria in the news and 'net over Photons, Mayan calendar, and the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, etc.:

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself, " said Teddy Roosevelt so eloquently.  Yes, we need to have clean air and be concerned about our ecology, calling attention to the sinkhole in LA and other environmental ills, but hysterical, feverish fear accomplishes nothing.  The internet and press are not helpful but misleading to people given to believing everything in print. Local political environmental organizations are places to invest energy to make changes and be part of the solution.  

Go after Hollywood, too. How many children have to die, not because of guns, for there are knives, not because of knives, because drugs and exposure to violence destroy young minds?   This morning's question, "Why?" about yet another senseless school massacre, begs an answer, "Why indeed!"  Look for answers in violent movies and vicious television shows cited by young killers who admit to playing out what they see on screen.  Look for answers in parents who allow young children and teen-agers to be exposed to atrocities.  Look for answers in those of us who support Hollywood and its ilk.  The answer is to turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and spend time with your kids.  

14 Dec. Fri:   12 hours of marvelous sleep,  computer stuffs and off to the Hilton Garden Inn for breakfast before the AM "beach-beat.'  Despite the low 50 degree temps,  the bright warm sunshine made for a very warm pleasant walk sans jackets and gloves.  At the Quality Inn we climbed to street level to continue the walk to the Wright Brothers Memorial site of the first flight. The Visitors Center has the history of aviation through portrait paintings of personages prominent in aeronautics.  Cynthia enjoyed the glimpse into aviation in 2050 when flights will be available on demand; pilotless FEDEX and UPS,  flights that are not constrained by weather, etc.  No mention of what airport security will be like in 2050!   The stories of a couple of passionate young women aviators caught my attention as I read about the early deaths from accidents in air shows.   The ranger suggested we not try to take the three different ferries back to Atlantic Beach, NC tomorrow because of shallow water, high wind, favoritism given to locals and truckers so tourists come last.  We will instead drive the five hours back to our lodging at that beach for the next two weeks.

Two little stops to make before dinner tonight; we turned toward Virginia Dare Trail to go to Harris Teeter's to return frozen cherries that had pits left in them - but the blinding sun in the west prevented us from seeing the store immediately to our right on Virginia Dare Trail; 2.2 miles later we figured out we missed it and to heck with going back so we headed onto the recycling at Nags Head Municipal Park and thought we missed it, too.  We had not!  Whew.  Arrival was three minutes before Owen's Restaurant on Beach Road opened.  This was our  last night where we have dined every evening since our arrival.  They really feed us good food!!! It is delicious, plentiful portions, cooked to our severe dietary restrictions.  The Christmas decorations are the special attraction: the windows are lit with festive candles; they and the doors are draped with fir garlands, beads, balls;  Christmas trees grace every room including La Femme Toilette.

Model of the Kitty Hawk at Kill Devils Hill, NC

Replica of the Kitty Hawk

13 Dec., Thurs: Not many places on this island serve breakfast apart from fast food stuffs.  It is off season and so is fruit.  Since Tuesday morning we have driven to the Hilton Garden Inn for a great breakfast - all you can eat for $10.95 including fresh fruit.  The wind was much kinder to Cynthia as we trekked 4 miles RT to the Sea Shore Resort and inquired inside about a room since it has a marvelous oceanfront view; the rate is excellent: $75.00 a night.  But the real reason for stopping was  La FemmeToilette.

12 Dec., Wed:   19 months.  Another anniversary!  Brrr, it is cold and windy.  Dressed for an hour walk,  Cynthia wore Montbell down pants under jeans, a sweater, hooded sweatshirt, Montbell down under jacket, a down outer jacket and a wind-rain resistant hooded parka with three pairs of gloves.  Actually, she waddled for an hour.    Fascinating to see two guys surfing with kites and ski boards (this apparatus costs about 2K - very pricey).  A coast guard plane flew overhead checking the coast line.

SuperWindy View from Our Balcony

View from FourthFloor Balcony

11 Dec., Tues:  The drive to the Hilton Garden Inn was the perfect choice.  They DO have stuff we can eat including fresh fruit.   A Nor'easter hit the OBX!  Temp was a brrrisk 52 by dinner this evening.   It was a good day to stay cuddled up with our computers.

10 Dec:  Gorgeous day!  The waitress at the Ship's Wheel recommended Grits Grill for breakfast.  Forgeddaboudit.  Five miles RT in two hours; we felt great upon completion.  70 degrees today.  Notice the big fish the seagull caught that he cannot quite get out of the water (at his feet).  Yes, Virginia, the seagulls are real and so is the fish!

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Sea Gull 
Ron the Beachcomber
9 Dec:  Beach walk to breakfast at the Ship's Wheel.

8 Dec.:  Santa at Sands Villa, walking the sandy beach, driving to the Outer Banks, NC past cotton ready to be picked... Dinner at Owen's Restaurant, gorgeous sunset..

Feel like picking cotton?  

Sunset at Kill Devil Hills, NC

Santa came to Sands Villa

Quiet Beach Walk

Sands Villa Condos Beach View

7 Dec.:  It takes a different set of muscles trudging through deeply rutted sand dunes for  2 hours a day as opposed to trekking over rocks and roots in the mountains?  Just ask Cynthia.   Today's  beach walk to Fort Macon was pleasant; but half way back a light rain fell and we succumbed to yellow-blazing.  Wet puppies by the time we reached the condo, a cup of hot chili at the restaurant seemed better than a hot shower.  Ron enjoyed a phone call from Kat while she ate the soup and salad.  Kat was married last May!  Congratulations and best wishes on  their new home in Oregon.  With sore feet and light rain we drove instead of walked the beach to the Island Grille for dinner.

6 Dec.: Cynthia is finally "slept out" and awakened fully refreshed; I awakened after several cups of coffee and still crave "something to eat", but the doctor will weigh me in January, so it is time to tighten the belt. I suspect that I weigh 183 pounds instead of 176. The weather is cooler and windy, so for once we did not awaken "too hot" at any time overnight. Breakfast at the Resort Grill is so very convenient; the owners & staff report an enjoyable trip to NYC although they all now need sleep. The following summarizes our year to date:
We've had a marvelous year of hiking nearly every day throughout much of the spring, summer, and fall. Cynthia's physical condition and stamina is much improved and her chronic lumbar residual pain is much lessened (from a horseback riding accident 12 years ago).   It would have been lovely to continue hiking, but Reynaud's disease in her hands is not a good thing in cold weather.)
Our plan is to walk on the beach daily throughout December and drive to Texas starting December 28th. We've seen MUCH more wildlife on the beach: dolphins, seagulls, sanderlings, anhingas, sand crabs, ghost crabs who eat the sand crabs and much more activity: wave, wind, kites, and sand; Waaaay too many people, especially on the weekends; and interesting historical displays and presentations at Fort Macon about birds. Check out Dr. Coous, ornithologist and M.D. at Fort Macon.
It will be of interest to relocate Saturday to Kill Devil Hill, further east and north. Today (the 6th) was chilly and windy. Cynthia experienced painful Reynaud's symptoms after dinner. Wikipedia says that Reynaud's is exacerbated by vasoconstrictors, like caffeine and red wine, two of Cynthia's favorites. Dare I break the news to her?
Wrapping up our experiences is easy. We loved our daily hikes; we feel a terrific sense of accomplishment and satisfaction; we love our improved physical condition and are amazed that hiking can cure back pain. Recipients of our trail magic and beneficiaries of our trail maintenance have provided us many attaboys and a warm glow from their appreciation; we wish them all well, successful hikes and a long and enjoyable life.
I thank God daily for my beloved Cynthia and for whatever still works on this aging body. Best wishes to you all.
Love from Shakedown Cruise.

 Bird Hatching - Hardest Work of His Life

Almost There!  Mama where are you?

Neat video about the birds at Fort Macon
5 Dec.: Another marvelous night's sleep despite awakening too hot a time or two. Ventilation in this unit is not nearly as good as last year's 4th floor unit. This one has no sliding glass door into the bedroom. After our IHOP breakfast, timeshare representative Deanna of Deanna Hull Realty was unapologetic for not returning calls, saying that her office was closed. So why didn't her answering machine message say that the office was closed? The Smooches enjoyed another pleasant but slightly cooler walk on the beach for an hour to Fort Macon, NC State Park and an hour return after we both watched the entire documentary video. Five dolphins again amused us from 50 yards away and seemed to head directly towards us as I talked to them. After a satisfying computerizing during the afternoon, we enjoyed a sunset walk on the beach to the Island Grille and an encrusted flounder filet for dinner - very tasty.

View above Fort Macon to Ocean

A Dolphin Pod

Ahh! Amen!
4 Dec.: Another nice night of sleep again with too warm episodes. Today's big surprise is that the Resort Grill is closed to allow the staff a visit to NYC. We had to drive instead to IHOP but received excellent omelets and coffee there. Another hour walk on the beach to Fort Macon; this time Ron slipped in to the auditorium and watched part of a documentary with re-enactment of the roles Fort Macon has played over its 190-year history. Inside the Fort, we visited an officer's and enlisted casement room with exhibits and read up on the "hot shot" furnace. Eight dolphin were leisurely patrolling the shoreline as we perambulated similarly. Ron updated the Bankston web site to include DNA pages. Island Grille served us flounder again and promised to prepare fat-free potato with tomorrow's dinner.

3 Dec.:  Wonderfully long night's sleep. Another omelet breakfast, another walk on the beach all the way to the fort and around the grounds today, 2+ hours total.  Cynthia's foot is a bit better.  Indexing of Vol. 6 is finished (for now), DropBox updated, e-mails sent w/ attachment, so tomorrow I can move on to something else for a project. Our evening meal was much more satisfactory since the Island Grille did indeed have fresh catch today: flounder. I'm so excited to think that tomorrow I can organize ALL previous jump drives onto the NEW 32 Gig miniature Jump Drive (that cost only $20 !!)

2 Dec., Sunday: Sleep is wonderful stuff, and we seemed to get enough. Breakfast ditto. The Resort Grill was open with Santa Claus (the robot) greeting us automatically in the entryway.  Obviously the same management is still working there, and our egg white veggie omelets were as good as ever. We decided to walk two hours on the beach since Cynthia's foot is in pain, metatarsal something with a tight knot in the middle.  After garnering supplies from the nearest WallyWorld, we had time for a couple of hours work on the computers before walking on the beach to the Island Grille and a big disappointment: no fish. We settled for a filet, but I refused to eat much and upset my better half way out of proportion (in my opinion).


Cargo Ship

Searching for Bikini Clad Girlies?

Sun, Sand, Surfin' Sailing!

1 Dec.: The Hilton Garden Inn omelet chef did a nice job for us, and we were well-fed, happy and driving by 10:30.  Cynthia drove for the first leg so that I could work on the computer index for Vol. 6 of the Colonial Records.  We switched in North Carolina so that I could drive on the lessor roads to Atlantic Beach and the Sands Villa timeshare.  It was a major surprise that Randy is no longer manager there.  It was a substantial disappointment to find that our apartment is on the first floor with a VERY disappointing ocean glimpse.  The walk on the beach to the Island Grille for a delicious dinner cured those disappointments.  We enjoy a long night's sleep with the bedroom window open for cooling but were still over-heated at times.