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Last morning in a bed not my own. This entire journey has been more than I could have imagined and this is only the beginning. I was awakened by the sweetest of things; my niece crept slowly into my bedroom around 7:00 am from 2 floors above. She told me with these big beautiful brown eyes that she forgot to sleep with me last night. Her 4 year-old memory made her recall the evening prior as her forgetting, not her getting into trouble because she wanted to sleep with me downstairs. Since her bedtime was much earlier than mine, she was sent to sleep upstairs instead and let’s say she was very upset about it.

She walked over to the left side of the bed and I peeled the sheets back for her to get in. We eskimoed (eskimo kissed) and snuggled as we usually do in this early morning occurrence. And sure enough, as she has the last few times we have been together, she asked me to retell a version of the Three Little Pigs I told her a few months prior while in a state of delirium. My version for her had the three pigs whom I renamed Larry, Moe and Curly, and were in quite a pile of trouble with the wolf. Some story it must have been if she still has it on her mind. The problem is, I can’t exactly remember how the story went.

Her mother, who was looking for her, would eventually interrupt this sweet moment. My dear niece did not let her parents know that she was coming downstairs and as a result caused a bit of a stir. After snuggle time, the inevitable soon became a reality and it was time to get up and get moving. I didn’t want to waste any of my dwindling beach time. We gathered at the table and nibbled our way through the morning. While I was still sitting at the table, my father gestured for me to come out on the balcony to see something on the beach with the furious hand motion. When I peered off the balcony, my dad told me to look at this white object in the sand at the feet of this young girl. At first glance, I wasn’t sure what it was. I tried to refocus my eyes on this white spot to determine it what it was. My niece was almost falling off of the stool she was balanced on, looking at this thing. It finally dawned on me that I knew exactly what this was when I saw sand shoot up behind it and the young girl looking up at us embarrassed. The white thing in the sand was a small black and white dog I remembered seeing the day before that was obviously trying to dig its way to China. The head and torso of this dog was buried completely in a hole. All that remained above the surface of the sand was the very end of its two hind legs. I am not even sure how that dog was able to breath or continue to dig for that matter. In one quick reverse force of propulsion, the dog was full bodied back on the beach. Than just as quickly, disappeared back into this hole. Eventually, this little furry haired renegade hunter got it’s pray. It looked like it may have been after a crab. Poor crab. You aren’t even safe buried in the sand.

After this showdown on the sand, it was time to go for a morning beach stroll; my parents, niece and nephew joined me. Normally these strolls are lollygags. It is two parts exercise, one part fresh air and one part science walk with no real end point - a walk into the water here, a fastened pace, gawking at the beach homes that would be nice to own or the catamarans parked in front and discovery of the odd shell or living creature or remains of one. One particular remain of a creature was quite fascinating. It looked like a bumpy grey stone turned into a crab. It appeared to be lifeless. My dad picked it up -nothing, pretty lifeless. The kids took a look. I think they each took a turn holding it and examining it closely. It wasn’t alive so this task was a lot easier for them, especially for my nephew. He is not too interested in this kind of activity. My niece on the other hand has been reprimanded for picking up everything thing in her line of sight, dead, alive and anything in between. For a pipsqueak, she is fearless. Needless to say, this crab that was supposed to be lifeless resurrected itself and came back to life, surprising us all. That was the best “playing dead” I had ever seen. I am guessing he realized that playing dead was not a ticket to being left alone.

I was getting a bit sad that I knew at some point this would all be ending, my brief summer fun time with my family and this incredible first journey. Although there were still a few hours remaining, it was still looming in the back of my mind. There was some more lingering but eventually it was time to start packing up and get on the road in time to return the rental car by 8:00 pm. We carved some extra time for our return to Maryland. The Northern Virginia traffic is always unpredictable and can easily tack on time to a trip. Melancholy see you laters were given. My family was there for one more night. Thomas and I packed up our faithful rental car one more time and headed home. A few hours later we made some quick returns; one to my parent’s home to unpack the rental into our individual cars and pick up Thomas’ car, one to the rental car return, one to the Fed Ex facility to send off the GoPro that we rented and last, back to my parent’s home so that I can get my car. After being in the car with each other for two weeks, it was strange and sad to go our separate ways. No longer would I be the wing gal in the car. I had to fly off on my own again.

Till we meet again Tommy P.

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