Monday, May 31, 2021

Chasing wild horses

We scheduled our wild horses tour on our first full day in the Outer Banks. We arrived at the tour company ready for fun. The vehicles were open air Hummers with a shade cover. 

Our tour guide had been on the job for a long time. He had such great stories that we were constantly entertained and educated.

There were signs everywhere telling people not to touch or feed the wild horses. Some were just warnings. Other signs gave more information, like the wild horses evolved over the years so their digestive systems could only eat the wild grass grown in the sand dunes. 

We were really glad we didn't rent the house in the middle of the wild horse preserve. It turned out that vehicle tires needed to be deflated and inflated every time you drove on the sand. There were vehicles in line at the entrance with people deflating tires. About a mile outside the preserve was an air station to inflate tires. It was fine for one trip, but doing it every day would not have been an enjoyable way to spend vacation.

The horses were a beautiful mix of wild and practical. The guide said that horses use house carports to stay out of the heat. People living/staying in the houses have strict guidelines about co-existing with the horses. As we drove around, we saw several people standing on a deck taking photos. 

As we left, there were two horses walking in the surf. They were just walking on the edge as if they owned the place, which they actually do.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The best travel purchase

We decided to make the first day our longest driving day. It put us near Charlottesville, VA, so we could tour Monticello and the University of Virginia.

This plan meant that we'd be in the car for a long, long time. The shortest route was nearly twelve hours. 

Fourteen hours after we left our house, we pulled into our hotel. We only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks. We drove through to get our meals. Unfortunately, we didn't do a good job of coordinating those activities, which added to our driving time.

Before we left home, we signed up for a couple of streaming services. The girls spent the drive watching movies and sleeping. We were so happy to have had the streaming services to keep them busy. Fourteen hours in a car had the potential to be really miserable. Instead, it passed quietly.

We woke up the next morning, toured Monticello, had lunch at the University of Virginia, and drove to the Outer Banks. Our house was wonderful. We took the path to the ocean, which was more like a secret passage with signs, benches and hidden treasures. 

It was a world away from home and a terrific first vacation day.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

On the road again

Once we were all vaccinated, we decided to plan our summer vacation. We decided to drive to give us more flexibility and control. We were all vaccinated, but none of us wanted to get on a plane, rent a car, etc. 

We decided to head to the Outer Banks, NC. First, we've been talking about going there for years to see the wild horses. Second, the girls started watching a show with the same name and wanted to see it. 

The hardest part about vacation planning was deciding which house to rent. There were so many great places. We decided against a house right on the beach because it required a four-wheel drive vehicle. We decided to rent a house with a direct path to the beach.

Our stops to and from the Outer Banks mixed interests with college tours. We mapped out our route, packed the car and left Holly in great hands. 

It was great -- and strange -- to be on the road again. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

RIP Mr. Rick

We first met Mr. Rick when the girls were very young. I think they were eight or nine years old when they started taking golf lessons with him. Every summer they would carry their golf clubs to the driving range for lessons. 

I always say that he taught them to drive. As soon as they could reach the peddles, he allowed them to drive the golf carts. He would take them out to play a few holes during a lesson. When they came back, one of the girls would be driving the golf cart. 

Mr. Rick often had them compete for the longest drive, closest to the hole put, etc. The winner would get candy. Once in a while he'd give them single dollar bills. I always told him that he was spoiling them. He said it was because he had so much fun with them. 

The blond twin decided not to play golf any more, so she stopped taking lessons. The brunette twin continued every summer. Every year about Christmas, we'd get an email about the next summer's lesson plan.

We moved from Christmas 2020 into 2021 without a Mr. Rick email. I told Daddy that I hoped he was ok and Covid-19 hadn't hit him.

When text came in March, I teared up. Mr. Rick was battling leukemia. He was diagnosed after the brunette twin last saw him in August. He said he was going to try to hold a few lessons this summer for a select group of his long-time students.

We immediately signed up. Mr. Rick was a constant summer presence. Even if he would only be able to hold a few lessons, we were in.

Today we found out that Mr. Rick lost his cancer battle. The brunette twin sobbed uncontrollably. The blond twin kept saying that she wanted to see him. It was heartbreaking. 

Sometimes people come into your life and become extended family. Mr. Rick was more than their golf coach. He was their doting life coach. We are so lucky that he came into our lives and we will miss him terrible. 

Better living through science

Through a scientific miracle, 200 million people in the United States have received a Covid-19 vaccine. All four of us are almost vaccinated + two weeks.

It is such a relief to be vaccinated. After more than a year there are signs on normalcy. I don't ever think that we're going back to February 2020. I do believe that Covid-19 has created some permanent changes.

Still, it is a relief that all four of us are almost vaccinated.