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Cherry Groove

LIFE WITH KIDDOS

Another school year beckons.
But first, the beach.


We are in search of dolphins, dozens of us on this small boat bobbing in the ocean. Our eyes are searching across the deep, the ripples and waves a sequined glittering array of light and shadow, all of us desperate to see a protruding fin or the spray from a blowhole.

Four summers here, our little vacation spot in Cherry Grove, and still each trip we find new things to do. This year, we booked a sunset cruise on one of the dozen or so boats we’d spotted tooling about in the ocean earlier in the week. The entire enterprise seemed to abide a classic fisherman’s sensibility, rough about the edges, rules entirely absent. Which is to say, one could smoke on board, which a handful of folks did, or bring a backpack full of snacks and a personal cooler, which we did. There were no regulations, no tucked-in shirts, no safety talks, nothing much beyond the growl of the diesel engines.

There was cadenced, wizened commentary from the captain, though, broadcast over tinny loudspeakers as we trolled the surf in search of dolphins and delivered in a Chesapeake accent. We sat on benches along the sides of the boat. Plastic lawn chairs were arranged in the open decks in the center.

It took an hour or so of motoring up the Intracoastal Waterway to reach the Atlantic. (“We call this the Ditch,” the captain noted in his well-rehearsed monologue.) Creeping along the no-wake zones, we spotted a few restaurants perched along the waterfront, rolling carpets of vibrant grass, and rows of multi-million dollar vacations homes, replete with LED-lit boat docks, palm-lined palisades, glimmering pools, and tiled roofs meant to invoke places more inspiring than Ditch-side mansions. Everyone crowded to one side of the boat to snap pictures of Vanna White’s house as we idled past.

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Gaining Altitude

AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

Sometimes a better perspective involves increasing one’s elevation.


We landed in Denver in mid-afternoon, embarking upon only our third trip sans offspring, picking up a rental car and heading into the mountains. We’d picked Colorado because neither of us had ever been and because two of our favorite bands were playing a concert together at Red Rocks. We’d left without making any solid plans beyond hotel accommodations. It was my first time on an airplane in a year and a half.*

Whomever settled the city of Denver surely must have done so because it’s the last stretch of reasonable flat land before everything gives way to brown, stony mountains. Let’s stop here, I imagine they said. Seems good enough.

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looking down into the canyon

Gone West

AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

 

I am sitting in the Las Vegas airport in an airy, glass and steel alcove overlooking the tarmac. The sun is several degrees above the mountain range, and jets rocket down the runway. I watch as their sleek bodies realize their weightlessness, and the landing gear suspension pops out as if surprised at such a sudden, newfound capacity, and then they’re off.

We’ve been in the southwest for a long weekend vacation, and I’ve been trying to play it slow, to soak it all in: the glass wall, the aluminum struts that support it, the cabling design that connects down to the terrazzo floor, the small brass plaque dedicating this sunlit area to someone named Maria. The plaque is hidden down at the bottom of the windows, square with the floor. There’s a little brown bird trapped in here with us. She’s found some popcorn spilled over in a corner.

Perhaps it was the time change, or the constant movement of our itinerary, but this has been the kind of weekend that’s stretched out in time. Breakfast this morning seems like a long time ago, but it was barely two hours ago. Still, the setting seems otherworldly. We ate in a one of the many hotel restaurants in front of a different bank of windows, this time overlooking the pool deck, where men busied themselves with staging the area for another day in Las Vegas.

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