This year, we planned our beach vacation a little differently. Our friends the Morrises had a wedding to attend in the Dominican Republic, so the Dugans were on our own arranging for a rental. We finally found a two-bedroom cottage up the beach from last year’s blue house (sadly, the blue house was bought last fall and looks to have been taken off the rental market by someone with a Tesla) within our price range and secured it in the spring; the description was vague, the pictures dark, and the amenities thin. Still, we took a chance.
We drove up to a beachfront view obscured by a large man-made dune. The rental agency had failed to mention this. The house wasn’t as bad as I feared, but definitely several steps below the luxury of the blue house or our rentals in the Outer Banks. It had been constructed four or five decades ago and upkeep had been minimal, so its age showed. At some point it settled heavily in the back, so the kitchen and everything in the back half of the house leaned 3˚ to port. This made opening the refrigerator door interesting; it wanted to close itself, so getting anything out was like wrestling a shipping container. Unattended cracks in the ceiling and walls showed how much the house had buckled over the years.
We emptied the Honda and settled in, finding the beds to be functional but thin. The master suite held a full mattress, while the second bedroom was stuffed with two bunk beds. One sectional couch was long and comfortable, while the love seat looked like a Miami whore who lost a knife fight. Still, it was air conditioned and it was on the beach.
The dune, we were soon to learn, was a month-old addition designed to fight erosion. Before that, the water had been a hundred yards away from the house. Now it was about five hundred. We walked out after dinner and checked out the water, which was cold at first but warmed up quickly.
Our first couple of days were idyllic and peaceful. We were treated to great weather, and on Sunday after most of the people left, had the beach mainly to ourselves. Finn introduced herself to a boy and girl in the water late on Sunday and I struck up a conversation with their father. We hit it off easily, and they invited us to join their family for a marshmallow roast that evening after dinner. The grill that had been advertised as an amenity turned out to be a mini-Weber knockoff that took a while to light, but I got some brats cooking and we chowed down.
It turned out our new friends were from Ellicott City and leaving the next day, but we made plans to meet up on the beach the following morning before they left town. The girls got along great and we spent time telling stories over the fire and looking at the clear band of the Milky Way above our heads.
Returning back to the house, we were horrified to find the grill had blazed back up and caught the deck on fire. It went out easily with a garden hose, but I had to make an embarrassed phone call to the rental agency the next day to let them know what had happened.
The next few days were full of beach adventure, lazy mornings and afternoons, cold beer at noon, and as little contact with the outside world as we could manage. We took a family ride up the coastal road toward the blue house, and Mama got to know her new bike.
On Wednesday, the Morrises came in the afternoon so Jen made dinner and we shuffled the sleeping arrangements around. The kids got along easily and we adults stayed up talking until midnight. Thursday morning we woke up early, got the beach gear together, and walked out to an empty, windy beach under a partly cloudy sky. The kids couldn’t have cared less and jumped straight into the water, but clouds in the west said there was going to be rain at some point. We made the best of things, staying in the water until about 3:30 or so, but when the thunder started rumbling we packed up and headed in.
Friday morning the weather looked bleak and there was a heavy wind blowing up the coast from Rehobeth–the kind that kicks up stinging sand. We cleaned up the house and put some walking around clothes on, and drove into Rehobeth to have some lunch at Dogfish Head pub. Stopping in a storefront on the way up to the boardwalk, we got Finn a henna design on her arm, and did some window shopping. Then we braved the boardwalk itself to let Finn play some games in an arcade and have her fortune told by Zoltar, who went through his shpeil but then failed to deliver her fortune. The maintenance man stepped in to unlock the cabinet, revealing the space where Zoltar’s lower body should have been was filled with cobbled-together electronic parts from a Radio Shack clearance sale. Way to sell the magic, buddy.
With our fill of white trash and cheap arcade prizes, we headed back home and got a couple of hours on the beach before dinner. The wind had died down and most of the people had gone in, so Finn and I had an hour and a half of alone time in the water while Mama napped on the sand.
Saturday morning we packed up the car and cleaned, and said goodbye to the raggedy house. Driving into Lewes, we got some diner breakfast and then hit the outlet stores to keep from having to drive home immediately.