A writer for National Review online who I like to read, Jay Nordlinger, often writes an article that is simply the thoughts and observations that he has while he is away on a trip, either for vacation or for business. I decided that since I just returned from a vacation, I would try my hand at a post like Mr. Nordlinger’s.
While on vacation on one of North Carolina’s Outer Banks we stayed in a beach house. I have always jokingly told my husband that I want to live at the beach, in a beach house, but after some discussion with my thirteen year old twin daughters, we mutually agreed that it was a nice place to visit, but we wouldn’t want to live there. I noticed that the windows of the house were always getting sprayed with the ocean water and sand-especially when Tropical Storm Andrea blew through. We weren’t as hard hit as Florida’s residents, but I thought that if one owns a beach house and lives there for a permanent residence, than cleaning the windows would be a daily task, or at the very least, a 3 times a week task. Ugh! No thanks!
A nice thing that occurred on the trip was that the youngest, our 10 year old son, confided one afternoon that he was homesick for Rolla, Missouri! This was a positive comment on his part. He hasn’t been too happy about moving away from Florissant and the St. Louis, Missouri area two years ago, so for him to admit that he was missing Rolla was a huge step in the right direction. He allowed that he missed the neighbor kids who he plays with a lot, and he missed our house, our routines-which tend to get changed when one is on vacation. It was with surprise and a smile when I received this news from our son.
This same child took in a turtle, with the help of his older siblings, a week before we departed on our vacation. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. We had just gotten home from church and the kids had let the dog out into the backyard. As they were bringing the dog back inside the house, they found a 3-Toed Box Turtle. Our youngest son had been wanting a turtle for ages( well, 2 years at least), so his father and I reluctantly said that he could make the turtle his pet. Scanning his books on turtles, and on the Missouri Conservation Website, we reviewed what Box turtles eat, and so far, a month later, the turtle, “Amber”, is eating and going to the bathroom and thriving. I have noticed that she doesn’t pull her head and legs and tail into her shell anymore when we, the humans of the house, walk by her in her domain-the back porch/sunroom. I have seen her yawn(yes, turtles evidently yawn!) and once in a while she will wipe the side of her head with a front leg. We did take Amber with us on our oceanic vacation, she traveled in the car in a bucket, and at rest stops she got to walk around in the grass. We did have some curious travelers ask our son about the turtle;even made one trucker’s day who told me it was the first time he’d ever seen someone out walking their turtle!
On the drive back to Missouri, we stopped at a Wendy’s in West Virginia for supper. I noticed two cars parked in the far corner of the restaurant’s parking lot. One adult got out of each vehicle, a lady out of a minivan, and a gentleman out of a car. Two kids got out of the minivan. The adults weren’t smiling, and tension was written all over the lady’s face. As I saw the gentleman removing suitcases from the minivan and placing them into the trunk of his car, then laptops making the same change from minivan to the car, I figured out that the scene that I was viewing was divorced parents exchanging the kids. The kids were going to leave Mom to spend some weeks or months with Dad. The kids were be-bopping around the parking lot near the two vehicles, acting oblivious to their Mom’s stress. She had a list to go over with Dad, but he didn’t look at her, as he chose that moment to hug his two kids, and seemed to think that ignoring Mom and her list was fine to do. After the kids got into Dad’s car, then he and his ex-wife had a bit of a talk. Then he got into his car and drove away. I didn’t notice if the 2 kids hugged their Mom before they drove away with Dad or not. Watching that “battle” in the parking lot made me feel sad for those two kids. I thought of the love and promises their parents probably had for one another on their wedding day. The arrival of two babies and the joy that brings with it. To only have it all dissolved into two households, two parents who clearly don’t like one another anymore, and I shook my head, feeling sorry for the innocent victims in the brutality of a divorce, the children.
Driving across the country, from Missouri to North Carolina and back, was at times tedious, but we got to see the rolling hills of Southern Indiana, the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Virginia, and the marshes of North Carolina, and of course, viewing the Atlantic up close. We had a wonderful time with our family. The oldest stationed now in North Carolina, was able to take some leave and stay with us at the beach house. Our second oldest was able to fly in from her college job, having gained approval to take 4 days off, to be with us.
Summing up, I read some excellent books while on my travels: Mary Anne by Daphne Du Maurier-a book about Du Maurier’s great, great grandmother, a mistress of the Duke of York-one of King George III’s sons, and an uncle to Queen Victoria; how Mary Anne brought down this member of the royal family. The Beloved Invader, by Eugenia Price-another book based on a true story: Anson Green Phelps Dodge II, one of several heirs to his grandfather and great-grandfather’s mining company, while visiting the family’s lumber mill interests on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia in the late 1870s, was saddened by the conditions that the Yankee soldiers had left the Episcopal church in-they had almost destroyed it. Mr. Dodge vowed to rebuild the church with his own money, and went back to college, and then seminary to become the minister for that church. Two different women would enter his life, he established churches on the island and in other communities in Georgia for the former slaves to worship at, using his own inheritance to help his parishioners. A very moving story. Lastly, a murder mystery by Mary Jane Clark,-Lights Out Tonight-someone is up to no good in the charming town of Warrenstown, Massachusetts, famous for its Summer Theatre Workshops and plays, many making it to Broadway and/or Pulitzer Prizes. It’s up to KEY television’s Movie Critic Caroline Enright to discover if famous actress Belinda Winthrop is missing due to a personal crisis or due to someone wanting her to be permanently missing. I highly recommend these books for great summer reading, wherever your summer travels take you, be it far from home or not.