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Monday, September 14, 2009


My Perfect Moment is captured in this ten second clip:

On Thursday, we decided to go to Chincoteague for the weekend because we hadn't yet been this summer. I think we love the island so much not just because it is literally the greatest beach for crazy birders and non-nature-loving-but-commercialism-hating people alike, but because it is a location that Josh and I collectively peed on to mark as our own at the beginning of our relationship. We have no prior memories of the place with other people; no vacations with ex's that get dredged up in our mind when we hit the town. Soon we will mark our ten year anniversary of visiting the island; ten years of sandy asses.

So I told the twins that I had to make a phone call and called up the Refuge Inn, which, if you're going to Chincoteague is the place to stay. We have given this more thought than is healthy and we've stayed in a lot of places. But now we only stay at the Refuge and we can say definitively that it is the best place because (1) it is locally-owned therefore, the money the business makes stays in the community, (2) they remember us year-to-year which may be because we are simply an unforgettable couple or it could be due to the copious amounts of toilet paper I use which leaves an impression, (3) it is perfectly situated so you don't have to drive your car the entire vacation. You can ride your bike onto the nature reserve and go to the beach or you can ride your bike into town, (4) they serve breakfast and breakfast goes in a predictable pattern: eggs, french toast, waffles, (5) they are so friendly and kind that they even let us return to the hotel and use their pool shower this trip even though we had already checked out, (6) their rooms are fantastic and large, (7) they have their own corral of ponies near the parking lot, and (8) they have a little stopper on the bottom of the door so that crickets can't get in the room. Do you hear that, other hotels? These people care about my cricket phobia.

So I hung up the phone after securing a room and went back in the kitchen. "Guess who just planned a vacation for us to Chincoteague for this weekend?" I asked smugly.

And without a hint of irony, the ChickieNob looked up from her art project and said, "Aunt Gretel?"

"What? just saw...I told you I was on the phone...I made the reservation."

"So Aunt Gretel didn't plan the vacation?" the ChickieNob asked with a hint of fear that my vacation prowess cannot match my sister's and that I have essentially just booked us for a week-long trip to a Field of Terrors.

My sister is better at planning vacations being that she is more organized and more responsible. But I pulled this trip off and on Friday, had packed all of our bags and had them lined up at the front door so we could get on the road the moment Josh returned home. We set out for Chincoteague with hope in our heart that we'd somehow miraculously make it over the Bay Bridge without traffic which was cruelly dashed by an hour-long wait at the bridge which became increasingly more fun once we taught the Wolvog to sing "Helter Skelter," video taped him singing it, and emailed it to my brother. All from the front seat of the car due to my Sprint Blackberry Tour. I love that toy so much. Thank you, Sprint, for Dr. Pangloss.

On Saturday, we headed out to the beach,

which we had mostly to ourselves.

With gorgeous blue skies despite earlier warnings of rain,

and mostly happy faces despite the Great Suntan Lotion Tantrum of 2009.

What I love about the beach off-season is not just that we have it all to ourselves, but how small it can make you feel when you don't have the distraction of other people around:

We spent about six hours collecting sea shells and digging holes and the ChickieNob just stood in the water for three straight hours, beckoning to the waves with one hand, as if she were calling them forth to the beach.

The beach was where we first noted the Domino Coveting Effect (DCE). Two men came down to the beach with their young baby and posed for each other holding their newborn. I could not stop watching. The baby was tiny and perfect and dressed in a small Winnie the Pooh outfit. Finally, the men asked me if I would take their picture together with their daughter and I agreed.

"I was just admiring your daughter," I called out to them as I set up the shot, which is a more socially acceptable way of saying that I was coveting their child.

"She's two-months old today!" they crowed. They shared her name and the story of her name and had that giddiness only seen in people who have coupled a distinct lack of sleep with a child who has come after a long wait. They went back to their car and I continued to play a game of catch with the Wolvog which involved me gently tossing him a ball which he allowed to land in the sand and then having him chuck it with surprising speed at my knees, belly, or head.

The couple to our left watched us for a long time and finally said in this wistful voice, "they're so cute. They're just so cute."

Which made me wonder if they were also infertile--if we had just happened upon the perfect storm of situationally- and biologically-infertile people all at the same beach. But it turned out the couple wasn't yet married. They were maybe in their mid-thirties and the woman had the look of someone who wished she was married and having children. We spent some time talking by the water, and every so often, she would become distracted by the kids again and murmur, "they're just so cute" in a way that broke my heart.

Josh commented on it over Vietnamese food that night (which, if you do go to Chincoteague, the best place to eat on the island is Saigon Village. The food is always amazing--so good that I had to stop by for veggie rolls to go on our way out of town and say goodbye to the owner until next summer). "You were coveting the men's baby while the woman next to you was coveting your life. And that couple is probably sitting somewhere tonight and a single person is walking by thinking, 'at least they're a couple.' And a homeless person is seeing the single person and thinking, 'at least she has a home."

"It just continues for every single person in the world until we're all lying prone like dominos--unable to move forward or stand up for the wanting. So what were the men with the baby coveting?" I asked.

"Your government recognized marriage?"

It gave food for thought how much we as a society covet and where that coveting gets us.

At night, we walked around town. Maybe what else I like about Chincoteague is that it's small-town America. It's so American that it makes apple pie look French. Many of the beach towns on the eastern shore are geared towards tourists with the thought that summer is their booming time and most towns empty out by the end of August. But Chincoteague is just a regular town which sees more traffic in the summer, but is still a tight-knit community through the winter. You can visit it any time of year and find most of the businesses still open, the library still renting out books.

It's the sort of town where everyone gathers on the street for a fair, the sixteen-year-olds just as happy to have some place to go as the forty-year-olds with newborns. We ate ice cream at the Creamery (there are two ice cream places in town, and we are firmly a Creamery family. Creamery, Creamery, Creamery all the way, now and forever) and Josh promised the ChickieNob that next summer, they would tackle the Roundup, a grotesque amount of ice cream that needs to be consumed in a single sitting in order to make it onto their wall of fame.

After another morning at the beach, we piled back in the car and headed over the land bridge, sniffling the whole way. It is always hard to leave even though it never changes. We go back year after year, to the same hotel, the same restaurants, the same evenings at the ice cream shop. I love the stability of the vacation.

And I love when we cross the Bay Bridge and we pass St. Peter's Church in Queenstown, Maryland. It feels like that's when every vacation begins--when we pass that church. This year, Josh stopped the car so I could get out and photograph the building. The graveyard was screaming with crickets so I only crept so far onto the grass before I turned my flip flops around and ran back to the safety of the pavement. But there was something so silencing, so stilling, about leaving the 65 mph traffic of Route-50, to walk behind this quiet building and mark the end of a vacation.

See what others are saying were the perfect moments they found this week.


The Steadfast Warrior said...

Just the word Chincateaugue brought me back to my childhood as I have the book "Misty of Chincoteague" sitting in my childhood book collection. :)

I'm glad your vacation was so lovely.

And I find it interesting to consider how we view other people. At the end of the day, the strangers we pass on the street, are just that, strangers. But how often do we take them in visually and wonder about them? We humans are certainly curious creatures and perhaps it's our innate need to relate to those around, even if it's in passing.

N said...

I could just watch that clip over and over and over again.

loribeth said...

I too read "Misty of Chincoteague" when I was a kid. A dear family friend sent me a copy for my birthday & while my sister was more of a horse lover than I was, I did enjoy it.

You've now made me covet my own beach vacation, lol.

Carrie said...

Beautiful vacation! I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the ocean- gorgeous sound to someone stuck on the couch. (Note to self: dig out noisemaker thingy that makes ocean sound.)

Your thoughts about coveting were very interesting. I can honestly say that for the better part of two years, I was convinced that EVERY pregnant woman had the perfect life simply because she was pregnant. I coveted that more than anything I've ever wanted. Even now, 28 weeks into a triplet pregnancy, I still find myself longing for an "easy" pregnancy... and yet someone else just wants to be pregnant. One big covet-cycle. A stationary journey to be sure.

Thanks for brightening up my morning. :)

Erin said...

Okay, I live 30 minutes south of Chincoteague. We go every summer. A delightful place. The creamery is the BEST EVER icecream.

Trinity said...

Welcome back! Sounds like a super lovely and relaxing weekend, the perfect way to ring in the fall. :)

Julie said...

Oh, man, Josh is awesome. "Your government recognized marriage?" Oof, I said when I read that.

luna said...

I could sit and watch the ocean all day long.

love the DCE too. so true.

glad you all had such a perfectly wonderful weekend.

Busted Tube said...

That looks like a lovely vacation! I often find myself wishing I had easier access to that area these days- my grandparents lived on the eastern shore of Maryland and we spent many vacations along the DE/MD coast, but now have no ties to the area any more and live all the way across the country.

Big Mama T said...

That sounds like a fabulous vacation... I'm an Assateague girl myself, though. We camp on the island every summer, instead of going to a hotel... I do think we'll eventually wander across that state line to explore...

Kristin said...

As Steadfast Warrior said, "Just the word Chincoteague brought me back to my childhood." Ever since I first read the book Misty of Chincoteague, I have wanted to visit there.

I need that clip of yours on an endless loop and then I could play it on a large screen to watch all peaceful.

areyoukiddingme said...

I was actually in Colonial Beach, VA on Saturday, coveting a trip to Chincoteague (due to the aforementioned book), and laughing in a juvenile way at Assateague. Nice photos - looking much like the ones I took of the Potomac!

It is interesting how the domino effect works, isn't it? Your Josh is very perceptive

Carrie27 said...

What a peaceful vacation. I've never been to the beach where you aren't surrounded by people, that truly would be bliss.

Brenna said...

We always meant to visit Chincoteague (and/or Assateague) when we lived in the area! Maybe when we make it back your way in a few years... Your vacation sounds absolutely wonderful, and the domino effect is good food for thought.

Oddly enough, we're visiting family in Colorado this week and last night I noticed "Misty of Chincoteague" in a pile of books in a basket next to my in-law's couch!

Lynn said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. It really reminds me of how we feel when we do our annual trip to Helen, GA. Its amazing!

As for the DCE, I'm experiencing some of it today myself. Glad you had a fantastic time and the clip is wonderful!

jenicini said...

Growing up in California meant beach beach beach all summer long. However, I always wanted to go to a beach town like Chincateaugue! Thanks so much for sharing. I was transported for a few minutes!

still life angie said...

I just love this post. Made me laugh. Made me think. Made me long. Made me nostalgic for a place I have never been.

Just for the record, I think you are a better vacation planner than Aunt Gretel, but I have to say that made me guffaw.


LJ said...

Hahahaha Chickienob & Wolvog. Next year you need to share the beach with V! SUCKAHHHHS.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I have moments of coveting, but for the most part, I have the life I've always wanted. And I think blogging has made me look at myself enough to realize that. :)

Although I do covet a good trip to Chincoteauge. Maybe I'll read the book again.

Delenn said...

I always think of "Misty" too. I like the way you talk of beaches--its how we like beaches too. Interesting take on people watching. Glad you had fun!

E said...

We went there this past June. I posted some pics on my blog. We just love it there. We took our dogs who loved to drag us towards every duck on the island. I hope we go back next year...

Paz said...

Although I had a fabulous weekend, I think I covet yours. I copied the info and saved it as: chincoteague savant speaks

(I just love the word verification words, this time... mings. good word eh)

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

I always say that I don't care for the beach, but I actually really like the beach off-season. In the winter when no one but the surfers will go in the water, or when it's too cold to go near the actual beach but you can still hear the waves.

Your list of amenities at the Refuge Inn raises some important questions. (2) More trips to the bathroom or more TP usage per trip? (4) Eggs, french toast, waffles every day or on a 3-day cycle?

Also, ponies!

battynurse said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip (and beach). I'm glad you had such a great time. I like your point about how we all covet something that someone else has. I find myself doing it and yet I know that I have a very blessed life. It's not what I had thought it would be but it's still a good life.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I am thisclose to taking up the Creamery challenge.

I love your thoughts on coveting as a domino effect. Like we're all very thirsty people with half-empty glasses, ousting for the other person's stemware.

ColourYourWorld said...

This place is awesome, great photos too. I am so glad you had a great weekend.

Circus Princess said...

Thank you for sharing your precious moment. Growing up on one of the south western beaches of Sweden I know what it's like to spend a beautiful fall day on an empty beach.

Love your thoughts on coveting. It's so easy to forget the things you have that others covet.

Anjali said...

We were at Chincoteague over the summer. It is so very lovely.

AnotherDreamer said...

Wow, the photos are beautiful- and the Domino coveting effect, very profound and so true... powerful stuff Mel.

B said...

that looks pretty magic.