Tuesday, July 06, 2010

::The Place to Ourselves & Great Pizza::

::AY TEN::

Before leaving Hunting Island I was determined to run on the beach. It is something I had envisioned doing long before this day and would have been really disappointed in myself had I not managed to do it at least once. My eyes popped open at 5:50 A.m. My inner alarm clock did not let me down. I hesitantly put on socks and runners--the last thing I wanted to do in the heat--and started down the path.

I have to say, the next hour remains my most treasured beach memory of the trip. The sunrise was pink and gold. The tide was very low, leaving behind the nicest shell I found during our two weeks. I walked past a very defensive yellow crab and a gracefully perched White Heron on the pier. I spotted our neighbour-camper and his dog passed-out higher up on the shore amidst the beach grass. (We found out later that, desperate to escape the heat, he had escaped to the beach in hope of sleep--he was devoured by horse flies instead.) I took my time and drank in everything. On the way back I saw two park rangers checking the Loggerhead nesting grounds. I had hoped to spot a few hatched turtles myself, but saw only sand:

Reluctantly, I walked back to camp for breakfast and a billion & one trips back and forth down the trail to pack up for the next leg of the trip: Carolina Beach. On the way, I have to mention, we experienced our first Krispy Kreme donuts--yum! Forget the filling, the dough is delicious on its own.

Driving up to Carolina Beach was a completely different experience from Hunting Island. This place was dead. No cars. No tents. No camp store. Nothing. I vaguely remember reading that the marina was closed for renovation, but figured that had nothing to do with us. It turns out the whole waterfront area was closed off. So, if we needed wood, or ice, or swimming, or anything at all we had to drive into town. I was really grumpy about this. In fact, this precise moment marked my biggest personal challenge all trip. It coincided with Caelah beginning to feel homesick--which is often catching. And so I began to feel that ache of wanted to be anywhere but where we were. And I began trying to find a way out of there. I had Aidan see if we could re-book our Ferry to the Outer Banks for early next morning, but after many phone calls and wasted energy the answer was no. So we were stuck for two days in the sticks--with ticks. (Rhyme! There were tick warnings everywhere which had both Cae and I very paranoid).

I exercised my faith and my mind as I steered my attitude away from frustration and discontentment, and towards joy. I simply accepted that there was nothing to be done, and reminded myself that God's children always have joy available for the taking. So I reached for it and found it. The kids and I had such fun that night. We played Simon Says, and danced, and played cards & were generally silly. And we didn't have to think about noise or privacy because there was no one to hear or see. Also, that evening I bumped into another camper in the washrooms who knew the area and gave us the scoop on where to go and what to see. Always take the path of joy. It's there, waiting.

{Aidan was very impressed with the fire pit. He has plans to build one just like it at home.}

{Norah slept in her bubble some nights. But mostly it kept her contained during set-up and take-down.}


The helpful local I talked to tipped me on where to swim. She said to avoid the main beach and head to Kure Beach instead. We drove through some of the tackiest, craziest beach suburb ever and found free parking along the way. The beach was near an enormous pier. I never did climb it, but wish I had. The waves at this beach were a bit bigger than the last, but still manageable.

I began to see contrasts in my kids' personalities. Elijah and Caelah ventured into the waves, as long as they had their gear on. Gabriel refused. At first it frustrated me, but then I saw how he interacted with the ocean: he ran back and forth along the waterline, splashing and chasing gulls and screeching with laughter. He was thrilled to be there. His play simply looked different than his older brother and sister's did. Isaiah dug in the sand and then rummaged through my diaper bag looking for gum when we weren't looking. He did this again and again until everything in there was covered in sand, including the gum. And Norah was happy to be wherever I was. She actually loved the water. Fearless, even when breakers crashed up around her. But she also loved being swaddled in a towel on my lap.

Cooking over a camp stove in 100 degree weather is no fun. We ate many dinners on the road or out at a local establishment. One of our favourite dinners was found in the historic town of ::Wilmington:: We had showered the sand off all five kids, with varying degrees of success. Then made our way to the little town by the river. We saw so many historic homes belonging to military heroes. It was also the site of a huge battleship we admired from a distance down by the boardwalk.

We stared into the inviting windows of a pizza/pub called "Slice of Life" before the waitress came out and encouraged us to come sit inside, despite our five crazies. They took some focused management, but what else is new? And then the pizza came and mmmmmmmm! I ordered a white pizza. The best I have ever had. And I have had many, many pizzas.

For dessert we followed this fantastic smell next door where we watched ladies making waffle cones from scratch. We had to have one, so we all ordered ice cream. Actually, I made the mistake of thinking Aidan and I should share one. But every time I asked for a bite he nearly growled at me! I can't blame him.

That evening Elijah had special time along with us by the fire. Caelah refused to stay outside with the bugs. Of all the kids, Elijah is the most transformed by alone time with Aidan and I. He could barely contain his joy over having us to himself. I invented a version of cribbage to play with him while Aidan heated up some hot chocolate. We are discovering more and more how clever he is with numbers and strategy. He won the game.