Days 62, 63, 64 thru 75 WLBT

Aug. 16, 17 and 18 – Long Beach Island, NJ to Bethany Beach, DE

by David Runkel

After two days of travel and one full day on the Jersey Shore, the Tour landed for three weeks in Bethany Beach, DE. Break time!

Our time on Long Beach Island was with the fabulous and fun Beeson cousins once more, missing Polly and Alec who were dealing with the sudden, serious, condition of their youngest child, Liz.  She’s a recent nursing graduate from the University of Maryland, on her first job at UM’s Transplant unit in Baltimore, living in our old neighborhood there.  A week ago on her way home from visiting in Maine she had a terrific headache, pulled to the curb in Bennington, VT and passed out.  She was found, rushed by air to Albany, NY, where doctors operated on an aneurism at the back of her brain, leaving another that will require further surgery once she’s back in Baltimore. 

With concern, other family members from Idaho, Colorado, New Jersey and DC gathered as planned on Long Beach Island for a week.  The Tour joined for two nights, one day.  The typical daily beach routine involved: ad hoc breakfast; change into bathing suits; gather books, chairs, towels for the one-block walk to the ocean; find the perfect place on the wide, low-populated beach for today’s settlement; walk on the beach; dive into the ocean and ride a few waves; float; dry off; talk; read; watch the passing parade of walkers; take another swim; check out other beach goers; lunch; rest; repeat the morning activities in the afternoon; drinks; order out dinner; check in with Polly about Liz; loud, funny games around the kitchen table while a quieter bridge game goes on the living room; yawn; more drinks; talk; bed; read; sleep.

What was accomplished?  Much!  Catching up. Relaxing. Enjoying each other’s company.  Gossiping.  Having fun. Some exercise. Information gathering.

Saturday morning was spent cleaning up the rental, going out to breakfast and

Day 75 of the Scone by Scone Book tour
Deedie hogging entire bucket of French Fries!

heading out in different directions.  After long travel delays in southern New Jersey and southern Delaware on roads not designed for the growth of beach traffic on change-over days, the Tour arrived at its late summer vacation spot two miles from the Atlantic Ocean in Bethany Beach, DE.  It’s a suburban neighborhood with ponds and a swimming pool.  Not walkable to the beach as in past seasons, but a quiet rest spot.

Of course, we headed into Bethany to see what had changed in the 18 years since our last stay.  Wow, many more people!  The place was hopping.  Turns out, a Jersey band, Damn the Torpedoes, was playing at what is still the main intersection on the boardwalk.  The Tour paid $10.95 for a bucket of French fries, doused them with vinegar and found a good spot to listen and eat.  An iced mango drink was added.  Gritch day dinner at the Beach!

As a few rain drops fell, we departed for the local convenience store for a few necessary items and then “home” as our day had been long and much more stressful than anticipated.  Our 90-minute ferry trip from Cape May, NJ, to Lewes, DE, was a break from the traffic, but getting a spot on the 2:30 was tense:  we discovered on arrival that our advance purchase ticket had been for two days earlier and the 2:30 was fully booked as were all the other afternoon trips until 6 p.m.  But, we got on, a last minute add.   

The Tour’s first week at the Beach was blessed with visits from Ron Goldwyn, a

Day 75 of the Scone by Scone Book tour Philly Bulletin Building
Day 75 of the Scone by Scone Book tour Philly Bulletin Building

former Philadelphia Bulletin colleague and, most importantly, King Kazoo, leader of our Mummer comic group for nearly a decade of marching up Broad Street on New Year’s Day, and his wife Carol Towarnicky, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series of editorials she and a colleague wrote for the Philadelphia Daily News on the woeful conditions in the city’s meandering Fairmount Park system. 

They were followed by Baltimore pals, Dorris and Ken McElroy, Carol and Ben Orrick and Dawn Badrick, the nucleus of the first play group.  Only the McElroys still live in Charles Village, with the Orricks now on the Eastern Shore and Dawn in Silver Spring.  There was lots of talk about health issues – organ recitals we call them – catching up with kids and grandkids, and politics. 

Lucy Runkel arrived on Sunday for a week.  We’re spending a lot of time between here and Rehoboth Beach where Steve Male from Harrisburg is staying with his daughter Alisa and son-in-law Greg, who have a beautiful condo overlooking Assawoman Bay.  Spectacular sunsets.

The Males are part of our core group of Beach Families from the very beginning of time.

Primary daily food groups here at the beach are fresh corn, tomatoes, Fisher’s caramel popcorn, gin, tonic and lime, and whatever comes off the Weber gas grill. We try to avoid trips to the bakery where there are excellent sticky buns.

After book promotions in 21 states and nearly 9,000 miles in car time, The Tour’s primary goal is rest.  The Author, of course, will be prepping for the South, Southwest and southern California, while The Director-Driver recuperates from right Achilles ankle stress.  Driver’s ankle.

We depart 9/8 for Chestertown, MD, for a Scone by Scone reading at the Book Plate, where both Jack Barth and Matthew Swanson, authors with vastly different audiences, are well known.  A Chestertown native, Barth is now a fulltime Florida resident and sent his regrets.