Thursday, September 6, 2007

Nothing could be finer ...

Getting ready to leave the beach
Originally uploaded by stepol

... then to be in Carolina. As long as we're at Sunset Beach, that is! We made our annual Labor Day pilgrimage down to Soft Days, my parents' beach house and now their retirement home from September to May. We're always happy to be there but our happiness was slightly tempered this year by the absence of CollegeGirl who just started at William and Mary and had classes ... even on Saturday! I think this is the first Labor Day weekend in her life that she hasn't been here and her absence was felt.

However, it is Sunset Beach so we did manage to have an excellent time. We had a couple of overcast days but mostly the weather cooperated to provide some quality beach time. The boys covered the four Bs: beach digging, boogie boarding (is that two Bs?), body surfing, and even boating. OlderSon found an inflatable two-man boat in the attic and rigged up a bicycle pump to get it inflated. They gleefully paddled around in the surf, first with a paddle and a shovel and then with two brand new paddles we found up at the new Waves shop just over the bridge.

We thought the parents wouldn't be down until Friday but were pleasantly surprised to see them on Thursday night where they joined us for quiche night. YoungerSon has been asking to have quiche for weeks so we took the opportunity to make it at the beach. We actually had three quiches: a spinach and artichoke quiche that YoungerSon made, a Quiche Lorraine that I threw together, and a single-serve ham & cheese, egg white-only quiche that OlderSon made. We served them up with grapes and some great strawberries we found at the world's most upscale Food Lion.

Dinners are always a big event at the beach and this weekend was no exception. Friday night was our big spaghetti and meatball dinner. Sissy and Peter from next door joined us on Saturday night for gourmet pizzas. We had four to choose from: a BLT pizza, a Margharetta pizza with fresh mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and tomatoes, a taco pizza, and finally a pizza with brie, herbs, onions, and olives. Sunday night finished the weekend up with grilled sirloin and roasted cauliflower. On Saturday night, Peter also brought over his new ice cream maker so the boys could try their hand at homemade ice cream. Unfortunately, we didn't let the chiller chill long enough and we had to settle for (very tasty) milkshakes.

We were particularly pleased to see the old pontoon bridge still in operation. The plans for installing the mammoth 65-foot McDonald's arch bridge that will make Sunset Beach just like EveryOtherBeach are currently on hold because even after two rounds of bidding, the prices quoted are still way too high. NC's transportation department estimate is now at about $26M and the lowest bid came in around $32M and they are bound by law to keep the price no greater than 10% over the estimate. So not only is it back to the drawing board but, because of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the cost of bridge materials is going up and the state is looking at more critical bridges that should take precedent over this one.

On Monday morning we managed to get up early enough to make a final trip to the beach and it turned out to be the best weather we had all weekend. After soaking up those final rays and getting the last breath of sweet salt air we went back up, got lunch and headed home. It's always sad to leave but we'll look forward to returning in the winter.

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