Sunrise, Moonrise

Neither of us grew up in a family that took vacations.  Other than visiting family for big events like weddings, I can remember only one time when my family went away overnight – and I was already in college.

So it seemed natural to Roger and I not to worry about vacations when our children were growing up.  It was only after we were alone again that we began to seriously consider the joys of getting away.

In general, that means just two or three days. We have taken a week to see Charleston and Asheville, NC, mainly because both trips involve such a long drive but we find ourselves antsy to get home by the third day and exhausted when we finally get back.

One or two nights away seems to suit both of us just fine.  It is enough to step away from the routine of work and house, to soothe our eyes with new sights and let someone else do the cooking.  We have also grown to love running away from home for the day.

The trip to Virginia Beach was two nights, scheduled not only for the sand sculpture but because it was going to be a full moon.  That let me sit on the balcony and watch the silvery disk rise and leave a shining path on the water.  I can close my eyes and see it still. 

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With daylight savings time, it was still light enough to see the blue of the sky

The sunrise was equally beautiful and I took what would have been a whole roll of film in the old days.  The colors of the sky and clouds was like a painting.

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The stage is set

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The sun finally makes its appearance

Coming home from two days of ocean therapy left us both feeling rested and relaxed.  Our feet weren’t tired from too much sightseeing. It was as if I had my batteries recharged.

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Neptune Festival

When I was in high school and college, going to the beach was a must-do summertime activity.  I could wear a bathing suit in public and I was single.  I think that says all you need to know, right?

It’s been a long time since either of those things were true, but my love affair with the ocean has continued throughout the years.  The difference is that I can now afford to get a room overlooking the ocean and we go either early in the spring or after Labor Day to avoid both the heat and the crowds.

This was the first time in three years that we were able to go to Virginia Beach and we planned our October visit so we could see the results of the Neptune Festival which included an invitational sand sculpture contest.

They put all the contestants under a big tent for the first time, which meant the sculptures would last past the weekend of the contest and we were able to enjoy them without the crowds of the actual event.  I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you.

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Kachina was made by Meredith Corson and Dan Doubleday in Florida and got a 2nd Place in the Doubles division.

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The detail of this just blew me away.  He is climbing out of a hole.

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All four sides were filled with entrancing and amazing details.

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Notice the people to give yourself a sense of the scale of the sculptures.

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Big Catch was crafted by Joo Heng Tan from Singapore – look at the teeth on the fish!

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Karen Fralich from Canada – Did I mention these are all made out of SAND?

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Kids enjoyed the sculptures outside the tent.  These were made by local schools.

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More school work

Makes you feel like a slacker, don’t they?  That was okay with me – doing absolutely nothing was exactly the reason I came to the beach.

Other than visiting the sand sculptures, I sat on our balcony and watched the ocean or sat on the boardwalk and watched the ocean or walked out on the sand and watched the ocean.  Within hours, I could feel the tension leaving my body and my mind.

Are you an ocean junkie?

To see all the results, you can visit their Web site: http://www.neptunefestival.com/201

 

 

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It’s the little things that make you happy

It seems like we all spend an inordinate amount of time working toward the big events in life only to be disappointed when they don’t live up to the hype.  Think about the time you spent getting ready for the big dance and how often that turned out to be a major downer.  Christmas with all the preparation, buying presents and wrapping and planning for every little thing was often just a giant let down.  And that doesn’t even count the disappointment most of us feel when we open our own presents.

What I have realized over the years is that the unexpected small things are the ones that give me real flashes of joy.  I had no expectations so the event had nothing to prove.

Last week, I was grocery shopping with my husband.  As wives everywhere can attest, this is more likely to be stressful than joyful since they either wander off or keep saying things like “Are we done yet?  Are we really having that again?”

On this occasion, I was already in the check out line when he wandered over with a box in his hand and said, “Why don’t we buy this?”

“This” was the newest “As seen on TV” gimmick – little pans that let you turn a taco into a freestanding shell to hold salad without frying!  I absolutely never order anything off those commercials but I had secretly lusted after the little pans.  Guess what?  They work exactly as advertised!

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Single pan and all four pans with the taco pressed down inside

The pictures show a single pan and the set with tacos inserted.  I didn’t want to lift them into the 400F oven one at a time, so I turned over a cooling rack and put them in two at a time.  The feet on the rack face up so they won’t snag the oven rack.

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Eight minutes later they came out perfectly browned.  I didn’t bother waiting for them to cool but used hot mitts to dump them out and fill them up.  I keep homemade cooked Mexican style chicken in the freezer.  I chopped up some lettuce and added cheese, spicy corn & chile from Trader Joe’s and salsa.

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If you are one of those people who likes pre-eaten beans, you could put those in, too.  Or add olives, guacamole or sour cream on top.

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One of life’s little pleasures

I’m not ashamed to admit that we each had two both nights.  We are trying to think up other things to put inside – like scrambled eggs with the extras of your choice such as mushrooms, peppers or fried onions.

This was a lot of pleasure for just $11!