This year’s Beach Week, due to my chronic lack of annual leave, is more like a long beach weekend. Elizabeth and I flew in late Saturday (very late: I worked a full day on Saturday and we arrived at the condo at 2:30 in the morning) and we have until Tuesday afternoon (tomorrow already!) before we have to head back.
So with two full days, you aren’t able to get the full Beach Week experience. But you can get one heck of a sampler of it. Ice cream, beach time, four-hour dinners, biking, horsey game, maybe even par 3 golf – trust me to make the most of even a vacation with a family whose modus operandi is called “Beach Time”.
I won’t lie – after the week that was at work, this is a refreshing break. Oklahoma’s weather in 2023 continues to be a daily ulcer to forecast. Over the prior week, I forecasted (poorly) severe weather, (pretty well) a fire outbreak in western north Texas, and (don’t even get me started) excessive heat each day. Hell, I even issued a flash flood warning. Compared to that, crepes on Rehoboth Avenue sounds like a dream.
Our sleep schedule has been thrown off from the start. After Elizabeth gamely drove us from Baltimore Airport to Rehoboth all after midnight, we stayed up for another two hours watching the Perseid meteor shower. I was surprised to be able to see a decent amount of stars and I went to bed in the bottom bunk at 4:30 am with the promise of the sun rising right over the water and into my face in like three hours.
Which is just about exactly what happened. Except I showed remarkable (some would say Icelandic) resolve in rolling over, pulling a blanket over my eyes, and sleeping until 10:30.
When I and everyone else had slowly reconciled ourselves to the world on Sunday morning, we headed to the one place in the world where Elizabeth feels happy: the crepe stand. I’ll go ahead and spoil the rest of this post now: we had 3 mornings in Rehoboth Beach, and Elizabeth spent all 3 of them dragging me to the crepe stand so she could have peaches and whipped cream. I never quite know whether her desire to everything the exact same way every time is admirable or infuriating.
Speaking of things she really likes to do, we spent the bulk of Sunday afternoon at the beach. This was a nice departure from the previous two years where Elizabeth’s beach time coincided with my work time. I’m not as much of a hardcore beach connoisseur as she is, but I also believe there is nothing wrong with sitting in a chair for three hours under an umbrella, sipping a pina colada and listening to the conversations around you. Along the way, other members of Elizabeth’s family filtered in. Michael, who had been drunkenly texting us all the previous night from Dewey Beach but passed out before arrived; Charlie, who had been awake briefly on the balcony but fell asleep so he could wake up at 7:00 to run with a girl he met; Jonathan, who hadn’t been able to make our wedding; Bridget and John as well. It was a Thrasher’s-fries-laden party.
Outside of a few trips into the water to let the waves toss us around, nobody made any move to leave the beach until late in the afternoon. This was Elizabeth’s weekend, and with that weekend imperium she declared that she needed to pick crabs to make up for not going to Harris’s. I suppressed an internal sigh. It turns out that the internal sigh was warranted, because Claws on Rehoboth Avenue balked at the idea of seating a group our side. The Fairchilds are persistent and will wait you out. So we did just that until they finally sat us after 8:00. And then the crabs came out. And people picked. And picked. And picked.
It doesn’t take that long to eat an order of chicken alfredo. This is true even if you eat it slowly in the knowledge that everyone else is eating the most inefficient food known to mankind. This was like “rest of the night” levels of Fairchilding. So after I was done I went to the end of the table to chat with Michael, who has a shellfish allergy. After a few minutes, we decided to just up and leave the restaurant and go to Funland instead. The way the weekend was shaping up (already, 1 of our 2 full days in Rehoboth was coming to an end), I felt like I should strike while the iron was hot if I wanted to play the horsey game at all in 2023.
Michael and I got to Funland where a surprisingly small crowd was gathered at the horsey game (maybe this was because a Sunday night, but I’m no expert). Michael and I took our spots, warmed up – and immediately he won the first game. Our idiot selves celebrated too loudly. When I looked around for the next game, there were literally no seats left full besides ours. We’d scared everyone away.
If nothing else, we’re persistent. So we walked inside and played the frog game (scam) and waited for a crowd to gather back at horseys. And then we got in. And then I threw the hammer down. 3 wins in 6 games or something, and I didn’t even feel warm. It had taken no more than a half hour, but we were already on our way back to Claws with the grand prize in tow.
And then it was time for some Kohr Bros, and then it was time for bed. Just a classic Elizabeth Rehoboth Day.
She wasn’t done on Monday, either. It was like Elizabeth was determined to squeeze an entire week of relaxation into just a couple of days. If it was up to me, I probably would have preferred a little bit more variety in my days – maybe mini-golf on Monday afternoon! Maybe something besides crepes for breakfast! – but Elizabeth, justifiably, wasn’t really interested in my opinions. After all, it is *her* side of the family’s vacation. So after a day 1 crepe trip where I got strawberries, nutella, and whipped cream, on day 2 I went with brown sugar cinnamon. Elizabeth went with peaches and cream every day. Once again: do not get in between her and doing things the same way every day for her entire life.
After that, Elizabeth wanted to go to the beach. And so, as the dutiful and loyal husband I am, we went to the beach. I took more care on Monday than on Sunday to avoid furthering any sunburn on the backs of my shoulders. Nestled under the chair, reading Winston’s book on the Siege of Constantinople, with my feet in the sand… all of a sudden, I was awoken by Elizabeth and Pam talking to each other so loudly their voices reached a scream. Who knew I could fall asleep in a beach chair like that?
Even though I’m not much of a beach person, I have to admit that I enjoyed my two beach afternoons. When you compare them to 2021 (working remotely at NWS Blacksburg while everyone else ate Thrasher’s by the water) and 2022 (desperately trying to finish a thesis on time), 2023 took the cake as the most beach time I’d had in years at Rehoboth.
You’ll never guess who called the shots on where we should eat our meal on our Monday night. That’s right: Elizabeth! My wife is terrible at making decisions 350 days out of the year, but these 4 were part of her 15 days of being a world-class decision maker (if it seems like I’m making fun of her a lot in this post, just know that it comes from a place of love and that I was so happy she had a good time in Rehoboth). This time, the call was: Sushi at Stingray. We walked to the restaurant (where Elizabeth had learned to like sushi at a happy hour the year before while I was buried in my thesis) underneath a slate-grey sky that promised rain.
Context for what I’m about to say next: Monday night had been designated as our cut-loose night at Dewey Beach, the party beach town just a mile or two south of Rehoboth. So in a lot of ways, this sushi happy hour was also the pregame for the rest of the night. So when I say that I had a mai tai, a flight of sake, three sake shots with Michael, Charlie, and Jonathan, and washed it all down with a Pacifico, try not to judge me too much. The pad thai was average at best. The Philly cheesesteak spring rolls were incredible, though. Make of that what you will. All in all: 6.5/10 experience, wish Michael didn’t order the third shots of warm sake, much better than Elizabeth going to Stingray without me.
We walked back to the condo under a sky that absolutely promised a thunderstorm. It was a hearkening back to my childhood. Why do we not get the mean grey skies that promise a storm in Norman? Either way, just like the storms of my childhood, the cluster of storms across the Chesapeake Bay region died before it got to us, leaving us with just sort of an anvil-y stratiform-y spit. It was very disappointing. But it was also a time to rally, finish showing everyone Elizabeth and my pictures from Iceland, and get ready to go to Dewey for the night.
Winston was our Dewey sherpa as the guy who goes there the most. The whole crew – myself, Elizabeth, Winston, Pam, Terri, Jonathan, Michael, and Charlie – split some Ubers on the short drive down to Route 1 and downtown Dewey (it’s so close that Winston has told me he frequently walks home drunkenly along the beach). We started off at Starboard, where a band was finishing up their set of live music. Winston filled me in on the local drink of choice – grapefruit crushes – and my Dewey Beach virginity was lost.
Grapefruit crushes were pretty good. The live band was pretty good. The whole atmosphere at The Starboard was pretty good, in fact. The only not good thing was the whiskey shot Michael made me take with him before we left. But legendary nights aren’t made on “pretty good”. Legendary nights are made at Jimmy’s. Jimmy’s was what I expected – a giant-ass tiki-style bar with a huge dome in the center, a guy playing the guitar near our table, and chicken tenders and pretzels for those of us who were starving at 11:00 from their non-closing kitchen. But most of all, what did Jimmy’s have that elevated it into the status of legend? Key lime crushes. From the first sip, I was hooked. I never imagined I could drink – and get drunk on – the taste of key lime pies before, but the fine people at Jimmy’s managed it. My hats are off to them for the services rendered.
Now, remember when I said we were up until 4:30 two nights prior? Shiftwork has taught me that I crash hard about 36 hours later. So after a couple of hours of drinking and snacking and dancing and singing and laughing at Jimmy’s, I started to fall asleep. Hell, maybe I did fall asleep on the Uber ride home. I definitely fell asleep on the condo couch when we got back. Once I was awoken by a screeching racket of drunken Fairchilds, I blearily stumbled into the bottom bunk and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Dewey Beach. Stuff of legend.
Winston, Charlie, Victor and I had talked about golfing on Tuesday morning. Unsurprisingly, Winston (who was up until 4:00 again that night) was not ready to go for golf that morning. Rehoboth 2023: it was a great beach week to become a member of Margaritaville, not a great one if you wanted to do anything else.
Charlie came to my rescue by about 9:00 by waking up and suggesting that we ride bikes. I eagerly jumped at the chance. He and I had ridden with Terri the year before until I remembered that I had my final research meeting in 30 minutes when we were like 5 miles from the condo, setting land speed records on the way back. This was much more relaxed than that. Instead, the two of us enjoyed a nice morning ride out to Point Comfort in Cape Henlopen State Park while Charlie gave me (a lot of actually quite useful) financial advice. I hope he enjoyed the bike ride and the conversation, because for me it was a highlight of the whole weekend. Just behind key lime crushes, of course.
Everyone else (begrudgingly) woke up while Charlie and I were pedaling our carefree way back down the Delaware coast. I had sent a text telling everyone to meet us at Egg, the brunch place on Rehoboth Avenue a couple of minutes away from Patrician Towers. So when we got back to the bike rental shop, you can imagine the look on my face when Elizabeth had replied that they were already getting crepes.
This time, my crepes of choice were ham/cheese/egg/tomato, and brown sugar/sour cream/banana. Very filling choices. But not as good as Egg would have been.
Our whirlwind trip to Rehoboth Beach, in which Elizabeth had determinedly packed as much relaxing as she could into about 60 hours, was already just about over. There was still a late morning left for puzzle-finishing and packing. There were still many good-byes. There was still a lunch bucket of Thrasher’s fries. But all in all, it was over.
We had an adventurous trip back to the airport. It was highlighted by a pair of unsuccessful stops for birch beer to go with Elizabeth’s fries, and then some white-knuckle driving through a thunderstorm.
And then some tense moments getting through DC traffic back to BWI Airport in time to make our flight (never a doubt). The reward? A several-hour layover at Midway Airport.
It’s always nice when your travel leaves you happy to be at home.
This probably wasn’t my favorite trip ever to Rehoboth (the legendary 2021 Beach Week still holds that title), but it also was far better than last year! Elizabeth’s better instincts gave me a weekend to relax that I desperately needed after the 2023 severe weather season and an exhausting wedding/honeymoon. I enjoyed spending time with my new family (or at least as many of them as were there). Hopefully, next year we can go for a few more days. After all, they say crepes taste their best on the fifth consecutive day.