Days 88, 89, 90  WLBT-B

Bethany Beach, DE

by David “Rotter” Runkel

The Tour’s three-week break is drawing to an end.

Oregonians for the past 16 years, we’ve come to appreciate the Pacific Ocean with its coves, flat walking beaches, the seals, sea lions and birds nesting on the massive rock outcroppings off shore.  All capped by amazing sunsets.

However, we LOVE and have missed the Atlantic Ocean with its long and broad

Day Ninety of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Deedie in pain while David takes a Selfie!

sandy beaches, cooling breezes off the ocean on hot days and in particular the warm ocean water brought north by the gulf stream. There are the crashing waves – do we dive through this one, jump over it, or take a ride.  So many decisions. This year we’ve had the added pleasure of the float that Lucy gave to Deedie for her birthday, a simple plastic matter.  Your head goes on a pillow and your body is just at water level, with your legs either hanging off the end or dipping in the water through an open loop in the middle or propped up on the loop’s edge.  Best float ever.

Find a sweet spot out in the ocean before the waves form to head to the shore and you can float for a long, sweet period of time, but keep watch for that large wave that may take you all the way in.  The float has been an infection relief for The Tour Director who has his usual left ear discharge from too much water in the ear.  He suffers from what one ear doc referred to as CCE, Continual Crappy Ear.

A school of dolphins swims by not far off shore many days, a few flying fish, shore birds and some great sunsets, particularly watching from the deck of Alisa Male’s condo overlooking Assawoman Bay.

Between 1966 and 2000, we cannot count the number of weeks we’ve spent on this Delmarva Peninsula. Suffice it to say, some sand seeped into our pores and its magic has never left our souls.

This last week has been grand with hot, sunny days; fewer people on the beach;

Day Ninety of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Deedie Striking the Pose!

and much less traffic than during the weeks before Labor Day.  Friday morning’s sun, however, gave way to clouds around 1 p.m. and a threat of storms later in the afternoon.  No problem, we needed to get ready to check out Saturday morning.

The storm finally arrived about midnight, lasting more than an hour with heavy rain at times and much lightning and thunder.  More of the same is forecast for the coming week, along with the possibility of a hurricane.  Luck has held for our trip so far and we’re dark from the sun and rested from naps on the beach and long nights.

A few books have been sold.  Friends Steve Male picked up one and Bob Warner bought three, one of them for Jean Hemphill’s niece who recently bought a B&B on Block Island.  We found another buyer while having a drink at a bar-restaurant-liquor-and-wine-shop in nearby Ocean City, MD named Liquid Assets, just like one of our favorite places in Ashland. 

Usually we avoid bars, particularly in the much more built up Ocean City, but

Day Ninety of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Ocean City, MD Liquid Assets

Deedie’s haircutter recommended Liquid Assets and after dinner one night we ventured out, shared a “living room” sofa arrangement in the bar with Michelle and Jeremy, a young couple from Pittsburgh.  She’s an actor; he’s a sound tech.  The opening for a discussion was the Oregon wine they were sharing, from a winery in Dundee, OR, Tillamook County.

Jeremy has a sister in Portland and they have visited, enjoying a trip to Cannon Beach.  And, they like the wine from our state.  That led to an invite for them to come to Ashland; after all there are acting jobs for Michelle in our town, with a stay at Anne Hathaway’s.

In short time, the Tour Director was out the door to get a book for them out of the trunk.  He’s been joking for months about driving around the country and selling books out of the trunk, but this was a first.

In departing Liquid Assets, we encountered the manager who said he was aware of Ashland’s place with an identical name.   People have arrived for dinner at his place that has been open since the mid-1980’s, saying they have reservations, made on the internet site Open Table.  He explained that his place is not on Open Table and their reservation actually is at a restaurant-bar 3,000 miles away.  He’s called Ashland at least once to tell Denise, owner of the Ashland establishment, not to expect a couple who have a reservation that night.  Being three hours behind helps in these cases.

The night out was unusual.  We’ve watched more tennis than ever, and have read a lot.

Most interesting reading has been John Barth’s 2012 short autobiographical novel 

Day Ninety of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Every Third Thought by John Barth

of growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, “Every Third Thought.” It chronicles his intent on becoming a “rotter” (writer) along with his best friend.   The fictionalized Barth ends up teaching English at colleges, including Washington College in Chestertown, MD where we are heading today.  The Author, if you recall, was counseled by Barth for four years at Penn State and has stayed in touch with him as he moved to Buffalo and then back to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. 

Both of us recommend it.  Our reading has also included catching up on three months of New Yorker magazines, brought by Lucy; one of John LaCarre’s first spy novels; Richard Ford’s “Canada; “and Colleen McCullough’s “First Citizen of Rome” borrowed from a Montana B&B.  At nearly 800 pages, it’s a lug to the beach, but a great story about the Germanic attacks on Rome and politics.  Interestingly the Romans dealt with some of the same issues current today – corruption, poor leadership, citizen unhappiness with the elite, break down in norms of discourse.

Not the usual beach reading, perhaps, but we’ve been entertained.

So ends our daily beach routine as we assume our travel mode in our packed up

red Fusion with Oregon plates. No filling the ice chest, packing the beach bag with sunscreen, glasses and books, and a snack, grabbing hats, cover-ups and towels. Then finding a parking space where our permit works, lugging a chair and the float to beach, stopping by the umbrella rental place and assuming our positions by the sea – just the Author and the Tour Director.