As trips go, this one is beachin’!

Jul. 12, 2013 @ 09:32 PM

So, here we all are at the beach in Corolla, on the Outer Banks, 30 of us, all in one house, granted one big house, but still ... one house. The oldest is Dad -- he’s 86. The youngest is James (named after Dad) - he’s 4 months. In between, there are 28 assorted relatives -- four generations’ worth -- and although three of us couldn’t make it, even so, that’s almost everyone. And, did I mention we’re all in the same house?

This is the official celebration of my mother’s 85th birthday, which occurred back in March, but who wants to go to the Outer Banks in March, so we’ve been planning this for almost four months, and the day has finally arrived.
Because everyone on the East Coast from Virginia to Georgia, who owns a car, has decided to go to Corolla for the 4th of July, the travel time from Kitty Hawk through Duck and on to our house - a distance that Google says should take a breezy 12 minutes - is ( and I am not making this up) 90 minutes of stop’n’roll hell, thus ensuring that everyone arrives on Sunday in a sensational mood. 

“Susan! Gregg! It’s so good to see you!”
“Isn’t this exciting?! We are never coming back here ever again in life.”
“Chuck, Louise -- isn’t it beautiful?
“It sure is!  And, we better have enough food, because I’m not getting in that car again until we leave.”
“Dad!  I’ve missed you so much!”
“Who the !@#$% chose a house on this !@#$&% island, anyway?!”

I am extremely grateful that my sister, who has done the room assignments -- remember Susan, the one we’ve called Miss Perfect since she was 3 and began organizing Christmas dinners? -- has given me a room on the middle floor that looks out on the ocean.  What I didn’t know -- and I’m positive Susan had no idea! -- is that my room is immediately under the great room on the 3rd floor, where everyone in our family from 16 to 35 turns the huge kitchen table into a ping-pong table every night, and plays until around 2 a.m. ... while tap dancing a number from “Chorus Line” ... wearing chain-link fencing.
What I also hadn’t realized is that our house is right next door to a house under construction, and work begins at 6 a.m., my friend. Not 6:30 ... not 6:05 ... 6 a.m. And, evidently, the work is at that crucial stage where -- and I am not making this up -- everyone in the crew needs to pound two hammers constantly, at all times, throughout the day, except for that all-important lunch break, spent on the roof staring out at the ocean -- not listening to the surf, mind you; listening to the Hot Jamz station they have blasting beside them.
So, to sleep around 2:15 ... awake around 6 ... so far, this is a BLAST! 
But, really, the house is beautiful. There is plenty of room for everyone, except my son, Rob, who seems always to get the short end of the stick. This time, because he’s too tall to fit into a bunk bed -- and the only bunk bed left anyway is in the room with Charlie, 9, Georgie, 7, and their cousin Mac, 10 -- and because none of the married couples want him sleeping between them, and because he hasn’t slept with Mommy for 30 years, we made him a bedroom out of the “theater room” (can you believe this place has a little room where there are 10 recliner “stadium” seats and a giant movie screen - I keep thinking how great “My Fair Wedding” would be on that big screen ... like a marathon ... like all day ... whoa...).
We go to the beach immediately Monday morning, the little ones dying to hit the waves, fly kites, chase crabs and ride the boogie-board. Being the cool grandmother that I am, I dump everything under the umbrella and run to the surf with them, where we splash into the water up to our thighs before the awareness of icy-cold, take-the-breath-from-your-body, these-boys-may-never-have-children water hits our brain stems. 
To sum up: We hit the waves, the waves hit us, and we turn -- AS A UNIT -- and race out of that water. And, in just those few seconds, I cannot feel my feet.  (Fortunately, I step on a jagged piece of shell, and realize they’re still here.) 
So, for the rest of the trip, we dare each other to go in the ocean, all the way under, and crazy Uncle Gregg, his two crazy grown sons, and all three always-crazy little boys finally do it, turning a lovely shade of periwinkle, which totally goes with my bathing suit.
The continuing saga next week!

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at, or visit her website,