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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Heat emergency? What heat emergency?

OK, I admit it. I've been spoiled (or I am spoiled, which is probably more likely). Spending the majority of my youth up until high school in Southern California meant I was able to go to the beach on many occasions, and last year I had the chance to swim with the fishes among the reefs of Okinawa 沖縄 and southern Taiwan. Which is probably why my first visit to the shore of the Eastern Seaboard, and my first dip into the Atlantic Ocean, left me feeling somewhat...underwhelmed. I'm sure there are some fantastic stretches of sand to be found between the Carolinas and Key West, but if Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware is any indication, those of my classmates who hail from California and Hawaii are in for some serious disappointments. The water was murky (and surprisingly cold) and there was hardly any wave action to speak of. It was almost like being back on the west coast of Taiwan again, except the sand here had a lot less garbage strewn about it and the water quality was (hopefully) much, much better.

But though it sounds like I'm complaining, the fact is it felt very good to be at a beach again, and not just because the temperature soared to something like 104°F (40°C) Saturday afternoon, according to the radio in the car on the drive back to Falls Church. Cold, murky and relatively calm though it may have been, I relished the opportunity to splash around and swim in the water. Amber certainly had fun digging in the sand and playing in the waves (which were ideal for her size). Even my wife, who normally loves the sunshine about as much as a vampire would, enjoyed herself, especially because she was able to bag us a spot under the pier, which not only spared us from the intensity of the sun, but also saved us the $15 it would've cost to have rented an umbrella:

In all, we spent about five hours at Cape Henlopen. On the way back, we stopped off in the small burg of Georgetown (population 6400) to have dinner. The area around the traffic circle there was evocative, especially the Sussex County Courthouse, which dates from 1839:

Following dinner, and while still in Delaware, we also pulled in at a roadside produce stand and nursery, so that Pamela could check out what was available. I hadn't realized until this point that neither my wife nor my daughter had ever seen what the American countryside actually looks like - Pamela, especially, was impressed by the sheer size of the cornfields and the automatic irrigation sprinklers. One of these days I'll have to take her on a drive through the Midwest:

It took a while to get there (four hours in the morning, due to traffic jams and breakfast at McDonald's), and even longer coming back (as a result of eating and shopping stops, plus...well, more on that later), but we eventually got home shortly after 10 at night. Pamela took this oddly-framed shot as we drove back across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge:

One thing that has been a continuous source of surprise to me since relocating to this neck of the country is just how close together everything is. In roughly 3½ hours of driving, we went from Virginia to the District of Columbia to Maryland to Delaware - three states and one capital district. After 3½ hours behind the wheel in California or Washington (state), we would probably still be in California or Washington, or at most, just across the state lines of, say, Nevada or Oregon. I'm going to have to revise my theories on spatial relationships and distances as it pertains to the continental United States.

I'm also going to have to work out how to get around this area. One reason why we got home so late is that I got us lost, by first taking I-295 instead of I-395, and then by going in the wrong direction (not the wrong way, mind you - I'm not that bad of a driver...yet) along Pennsylvania Avenue. For my incompetence as a navigator, I bestow upon myself the following award:

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