Sea Isle City, on the other hand, is a frat-house-by-the-sea. College kids a plenty, tons of shore-bars, and then oh yeah - there's a beach or something, isn't there? In between them is Strathmere - a sunny place for shady people. It's the shore town that Elmore Leonard invented, full of strange characters, drunken excess, and all sorts of controversies, gossip and scandal. I've written about the cast of characters down there before - and they never fail to amaze and delight in terms of nutty weirdness.
So I packed up my crap, put my bikes on the bike-rack, and headed out the door. The day was bright and hot, and the sky utterly cloudless. When I pulled up at the house, Mark and Dot were just walking off the beach. We loafed for a little while, and they showed me their place, which was the third floor of a house, all angles and corners and low cielings - but there was a huge deck with an excellent view of the ocean. The smell of salt water in the air was gorgeous. The sky was empty-blue, and the sun brilliant.
After schmoozing for a while on the deck, Mark and I decided to go kayaking. We laboriously dragged the kayak out to the car, put on the rack, etc etc. On the way down to the docks, we passed the Strathmere Hotel where I stayed for my Birthday Party. I had left my "lucky" shovel there last year - so on a lark we decided to stop and see if maybe the found out. After finally getting the owner there, who remembered me, I convinced him to check his shed to see if maybe he still had my shovel. After ominous hints about the kinds of stuff he usually finds, he did open the shed - and voila, there was my shovel. Oh froobjious day!
We put my Precious (the shovel) in the car, and went kayaking. Kayaking looks like fun. It's actually kind of a lot of work for not a lot of reward. We did paddle along Strathmere's bayside marinas, and I got a good look at the nutty collection of architecture that is the feature of any American shore-town. Architecture is one of those things that I find fascinating - and for some reason there's always a huge diversity of styles of houses with peculiar and charming accents down at the shore.
We paddled out to the Point, near Corson's Inlet and Corson State Park, and pulled up on the beach where a bunch of fishing boats were also moored. People goggled at my amazing whiteness. After all these years of being stared at for my alabaster shininess, you'd think I'd be used to it. But still, it bugs me!
Afterwards, we paddled back to the dock. I went for a run, then combed the beach for bottle-glass and seashells for an idea I had to bring down to DC with me for a certain lovely feral kitten there. Mark and Dot took me out for an amazing birthday dinner at a seaside seafood place, where all three of us got clams casino and TWO lobsters. That and a big gunney-sack full of beer (okay, it was really a cooler) made for an entirely pleasant dinner. Afterwards, I hooked up the PS2 and watched the special-extras on the Lord of the Rings DVD that my sister gave me for my birthday. Mark and I totally geeked out - but Dot obviously saw it coming, because she just went to bed. We went back to watch "just our favorite scenes" -- which turned out to be almost the entire movie.
And then I crashed on the couch - and was awoken by the horrible yellow light that burnsss ussss in the morning.