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June 11th, 2005

The mawling...

Joe arrived shortly after 9:00, and we left for Wilmington by about 9:30. I was a little more prepared for this trip than I was for our day trip last Sunday. I had my beach chair, blanket, and cooler packed this time.

We stopped for an early lunch at a Subway off an exit. The lady who worked there was very good; she asked us what kind of cheese we wanted (I got swiss, Joe got provolone), and then if we wanted them toasted (we both did). They were yum.

This place was one of those combination gas stations, snack stores, and restaurants. I was wanting some coffee since I hadn't had any this morning, but wanted something cold to go with my sandwich. Joe spotted one of these:

which I love, and was the perfect solution to my coffee and cold drink need.

As I went to place it on the counter by the register, the clerk took it from my hand, shaking her head, and said, "You people with these drinks." I looked around to see if Ross Perot was in the room. Just exactly who are these people to whom she refers?

We arrived at Wrightsville beach at right around noon. We went to our regular Public Access #4 lot, and waited less than 10 minutes for a parking spot. We put $5 in the parking ticket machine, and got a validated parking ticket for four hours.

After settling in a bit, Joe opened a beer, and after taking a big sip of Diet Coke out of the can, I filled it back up with Canadian Club. We kicked back and enjoyed some sun.

After a while, we went for a walk on the beach. After walking just a little ways, this female lifeguard comes roaring by us on an ATV, standing up as she's driving it, and going way too fast, in our opinion.

Not but about 20 feet past us, she goes plowing into three seagulls, one of which, to everyone's horror in the vicinity, gets sucked up into the ATV, stays stuck up in it somewhere for about five seconds, and then falls out the rear of it into the sand -- still.

She didn't even slow down. She looked back over her shoulder as she continued to zip along, so she saw what she'd done. This little kid, maybe two, three, or four is standing there, like the rest of us, just stunned and looking at the bird.

From the direction of the little kid, a man approaches the bird with a shovel in his hand. This shovel has about a three-foot long handle on it, and the shovel part is bright chrome. At this point, I'm not sure what he's going to do with this shovel; I'm thinking, perhaps, dig a hole to bury the bird.

As he gets about a foot from it, and is holding the shovel out toward it, an audible collective breath is taken as the bird panics, and tries to fly away. As soon as it moves its wings, which won't flap, it sort of trips three steps sideways, and one of its wings turns around sort of backwards looking. It was awful.

We had kept walking slowly, and by this time were past the bird, and I didn't look back any more. I didn't want to know if he was going to have to kill it to put it out of its misery, or it was going to just walk away, or what.

We were both pretty disgusted with the woman for not even stopping. Don't lifeguards save lives? Joe was getting angrier and angrier as we continued to walk, and was looking for her further down the beach. We wondered if there was an animal rescue unit or anything like that in the beach area that we could call.

We then had a short discussion about -- if one of us had had to "put that bird out of its misery," how we'd've done it. Joe said he would have drowned it. I said I thought I would've had to bang it over the head once, real hard, with that shovel. What a dilemma.

A little ways further, by following with our eyes the tracks the ATV had made in the sand leading up to a lifeguard stand, we spotted her. As it turned out, there was a person lying on the ground beside the lifeguard's chair being attended to. Presumably, this justified her reckless actions.

In our minds, however, this exonerated her just a tad as there were two other guards there, and it didn't look at all like this was someone who had been rescued from the ocean, or any emergency like that. It looked more like someone had perhaps twisted an ankle in a hole in the sand or something.

We walked way beyond the Shell Island Resort, where Joe is staying later in the week with his sister and her family, to where the water comes in, and gets quite shallow. There were several people down that end, and several boats that had pulled up to the shore, where presumably people got off them to lie on the sand.

Back to our spot about a half-an-hour later (no sign of the bird on the way back), we had another drink and enjoyed some Tostitos with Harry & David Cream Cheese Dip. Life is good.

Shortly after eating, but not to intentionally anger our mothers, we went into the ocean. The waves were awesome, and thus the undertow a little strong, but we had a great time out there. I generally take my swimsuit off when I go in the ocean, but we were not in a private area, so didn't. No minnow for the sharks today.

We left the beach at close to 4:00, and began searching for a hotel. We ended up at a Best Western on Market Street, where they had only two available non-smoking rooms, both with two double-beds. Since it was so late in the afternoon, and Joe had called several places before coming down, which were full, we decided to not risk not having a place and took it.

The room was very big, but overall the words that came to mind about it were, "on the verge." It had a window unit air-conditioner, which I was concerned wouldn't cool the room entirely, but ended up being sufficient. I think next time, planning ahead a little further would be a good idea.

After day-dreaming (and talking about) a killer seafood dinner all day on the beach today, we ended up eating at a KFC just up the road from our hotel. The big distraction here, other than the "combo meals" that didn't include a drink, was a counter that looked like it might have one time held a buffet, that the help kept hopping over, as well as stepping on, to deliver backed up drive-thru orders out a side door. That, and the bad grammar on the sign out front: Four Dollar Combo Specials, which should have read Four-Dollar Combo Specials. There were four 4-dollar combos. This sign suggests there were four, dollar combos. But I digress. Or do I?

We stopped at Target, where I bought batteries for my radio to use on the beach tomorrow, Joe bought a new cooler as his is leaking too much now, and we bought some whole wheat bagels and cream cheese for the room. Oh yeah, and a bag of Lindt white chocolate balls, too. Yum!


We got to Costello's a little after 9:00, and as we walked up to the door, two older gentleman (and when I say older I mean like 65 or 70) were coming out, and one tripped down the (only) step, and fell to the ground. He was clearly shit-faced, and had a real time getting up, and starting to walk again. His friend said to him, "Come on Harry. You're 'old Wilmington.' You've got to stand tall; keep your dignity." Something to that effect.

We started to walk around them, and the doorman, who was there helping them, put his arm out in front of us, and said, "Just a minute. We have a $5.00 cover charge tonight."

Once the gentlemen left, he stood in the doorway, with us still outside, and started talking about his day. After about two minutes, I interrupted him (as there seemed no end in sight), and said, "Uh, honey, could you let us in so we can get a drink?"

"Oh, yeah. I don't know what I was thinking." Apparently he was not.

Earlier in the evening, Joe had said, "Want to make a bet on how many people we're going to see out tonight who are from Raleigh?" He said four. I didn't really say a number. After a while, the first group that we ran into that we knew, was a group of six Raleigh guys, which included Jeff and Jerry.

Later in the evening, we went to Ibiza's, which was fun. This guy, Larry I believe was his name, came on to me there, but so not my type -- blond, and presumably, smooth. I danced with him, during which he was doing all this going down to the floor with his arms up in the air as if he were my stripper-bitch or something, and during which I was staring at the dark-haired, hairy guy dancing shirtless next to us.

We left there, I don't know, maybe 2:00, and went to the IHOP. It was closing just as we pulled up. They pointed us to a Waffle House not too far away. Lord, what a place. The security guard / play cop at the door spent a lot of time on his cell phone.

Our order took forever, and when it came, Joe's grits were on my plate, which wouldn't have been so horrible except for the fact that they were touching my toast. And, oh yeah, they displaced my hash browns, which were nowhere to be found.

We made do with what we had, and finally got out of there, close to three, I'd say.

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