Hello! I come to you one year older and a little bit more relaxed. It’s been since the conference a month ago that I last made a substantive post, but mostly because I’ve been plodding along. As usually happens when I attend an event of that magnitude, the post-script can be a little tough. I always come back and do some serious reflecting on why I might still be here, spinning my wheels, attempting to make my way through this madness we call adulthood.
A few things have happened though that finally have me feeling a little more optimistic. First, I was invited to join, and happily accepted membership to, the NC Blogger Network. I hadn’t even known such a network existed, but it aims to build community among local writers throughout the state through online forums and sharing of/encouragement on work. I am enjoying it thus far, and starting to feel that tug to pull my stuff up to that next level. It’ll hopefully begin to happen as things unfold for me and I continue to find my voice.
Second, and I know I often talk about it because it’s so powerfully uplifting to me, is the support of my wonderful girlfriend. One who has listened to me, probably having to gnash her teeth occasionally in the process, as I have tried to find some of these answers. She decided that she would end my too-long drought from the ocean (just over 13 years since toes last hit sand,) and take me on a relaxing birthday trip to the beach.
We left Durham on Friday somewhere around 1. The weather concerned me, as it was due to rain for most of our short time there. But aside from a quick, heavy storm that pounded on us as we entered Wilmington, things were pretty much ok.
As usual when traveling, I had fun watching the towns pass with my GPS and listening to her explanations of them. Once we clear Raleigh here in our great state, things are pretty rural all the way until we reach Wilmington at the eastern of the very long Interstate 40, which runs all the way from California. Also, we drop a good 300+ feet to reach sea level. We cross an odd-feeling bridge with metallic grates over the Inter-costal Waterway to enter Wrightsville Beach, then another bridge spanning Greenville Sound. Finally we arrive at our destination, the seven-story Holiday Inn Resort that sits, somewhat precariously she says, right up against the Atlantic.
“There were probably some houses at the end of the road here, but they likely fell into the ocean,” she said. “Looks like this hotel will too, eventually.”
We had a fifth-floor oceanfront, from which you could hear everything down there as if you were close to it. We spent a good stretch of time on Saturday, during which time we had gotten rained out of the water, on that balcony listening to a rousing game of volleyball as the waves ramped up. They even put up a yellow flag at the lifeguard station, which we guessed meant that the current was getting to be a bit dangerous so folks should use caution.
Not that we ever went anywhere near that far out. We took pleasure just in sticking our toes in that lukewarm comfort, and allowing the “itchy” (she laughed at me about that characterization all weekend,) sand and salt ride up our legs. The initial shock of getting slapped by a wave was cold though, causing us to nearly stumble back out.
She saw surfers bobbing some distance offshore, and a few people swimming. There were also other couples sprawling on the beach and taking in the elements as we were. Not a whole lot else in the way of development and/or people, though.
“That’s my favorite thing about this place,” she said. “If you come here, you’re just here for the beach.” Hear hear!
I did feel that somehow the beach and its salty nature made me unnaturally thirsty, even more so than hungry. But of course, there was plenty to satisfy our tastes. We made a point of eating a little of everything, and consciously trying to avoid our usual choice of burgers, burgers, burgers.
On Friday night, we ate in the hotel’s restaurant: Oceans Café. (I know, real creative name). But hey, I loved the food! I had Fish and Chips, which is just what you expect, fried fish and fries. They were fileted strips that I could dip in tartar sauce, and each was delicious. The fries were also good; covered in a seasoned batter that one doesn’t often encounter. To the extent that I ate anything “healthy,” it would be the mixed vegetables of squash, green beans flavored by almonds, and a piece or two of carrots.
On Saturday morning, she had intended to take me to a famous local diner/bakery in Wilmington called Sweet N Savory for their one-of-a-kind grits. However, by the time we dragged ourselves out of the depths of a much-needed sleep, we had missed breakfast. The place was still packed to the gills though, at somewhere near 11 AM.
Here, I opted for a Hawaii 5-0 Pita Wrap, which contained ham, pineapples, cheese, and some other vegetable fillings. They gave me two of them, along with homemade potato chips that I dipped in ranch to add moisture and flavor. Actually, all of the bread in this place is made in-house. Both of the items I chose here were also great.
Our next two options were chains: Texas Roadhouse on Saturday night and Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning. But as long as I got to eat in one local establishment, I was happy. Plus, I think these are two of the best chain restaurants if I had to give my opinion.
In Texas, I chose as I usually do here the country-fried chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans. Only I didn’t realize there was a difference between white and brown gravy. I went with White, which our server said was her favorite, but my girlfriend told me she preferred brown. I still liked it, and will have to pay attention when I consume that other color to see if I can distinguish the flavor.
And really that was about the substance of that trip. But, it worked out just fine for me. My main desire was to relax hard, hear that mighty roar, and get my eat on. All three of those were accomplished. I managed to read some of my books as well, thus not losing significant pace on my 50 book 50 author challenge. I guess I’ll find out the extent to which this has helped me to ease up when I return to work tomorrow.
So happy birthday to me! 36 years down and counting. I hope year 37 will be more than I can imagine, and salute all other September babies. More fun when it happens!