I've known for many years that the weather forecasters always lie about the weekend forecast. They don't want to tell their readers/viewers that their plans for the weekend are doomed to crappy weather. So they lie. Always. I know this. Which makes me wonder why I chose to believe that yesterday would be another beautiful, sunny, summer day, just like the three days before it. Here's the thing, the forecasters warned, Sunday will not be as nice so if you have outdoor plans, better do them on Saturday. And I wanted to believe that. So I told Ben over dinner Friday night, let's get up early and go to the beach tomorrow.
You see, although we live in Maryland, that doesn't mean getting to the beach is easy for us. It is a three-hour drive to the closest beach. So that is six hours in the car for probably three hours max spent on the beach. Not a good ratio, but when you love the beach as much as we do, it seems worth it to spend a beautiful summer day at the beach. We hadn't been swimming in the ocean yet this year - something we both love to do - and summer is on the wane, let's face it.
Accordingly, Friday night I rummaged around in the basement to find our beach blanket, beach towels, and big beach bag, that had all been tucked away who-know-where when we moved. I found everything we needed (except for my wide-toothed comb. Jules, did I give that to you?) Ben set his alarm for 5:30 a.m., we got up, fed the dogs, and were out of the house a little after 6:00. We were excited and happy as we headed the car east towards the Bay Bridge, but we both noticed that, really, the sun was not shining, and in fact, there was cloud cover as far as we could see. We'll drive out of it, I thought, but instead we drove into - along with the hundreds of other folks who saw the same weather forecasts - a total downpour.
We did drive out of that, but the weather on the other side wasn't very promising, plus we knew we had the rain following behind us. Still, we were on the Eastern Shore by that time, and decided to press on. To add to our discomfort, there was an awful stench of something burning that seemed to travel along with us. Was it our car? Was it the car in front of us? We even smelled it at McDo's in Cambridge, where we made a quick pit stop and bought some breakfast sandwiches. It didn't used to smell like this out here, we thought. Even once we got to the beach, there was a strong burning smell, which we chalked up to damp campfires.
But, hey, we were at the beach! The Atlantic Ocean stretched out in front of us all the way to Africa! I love that! We travel light compared to, really, everyone else we saw on the beach, and the two of us easily carried our blanket and two bags to what looked like a propitious spot on the sparsely-populated beach. It was 9:00 by this time, but the sun was still not shining, although we could see crepuscular rays peeking through the clouds above the water. We knew what the weather looked like at our backs, so it was a quick trip into the water for us - no suntan lotion needed. Wow. Either you love the ocean or you don't, and either way I don't have to describe it for you. We easily got out past where the waves were breaking, and the ocean was like a big bathtub out there. I ducked under some of the big waves and floated over others. I floated on my back, straightened my legs, and wiggled my toes. When it was time to come in, I misjudged a wave and was bowled over by it. Even that was fun.
Pretty soon, we were just watching the sky to see how soon we would have to make a run for the car, so we just packed up and went to the car, as raindrops began to fall. Luckily, we had thrown the newspaper (with its lying forecast!) in the car when we left the house, so we read that. We watched other people straggle in from the beach. We watched the rain on the windshield. We watched other cars pull into the parking lot, and their occupants sat and watched, too. At last we could see blue sky between the clouds and fewer and fewer raindrops fell. So we all headed back out to the beach. The sun came out. I put some suntan lotion on and went in the water. The sun went in, of course, making me feel like I had wasted my time and lotion. (It was not a waste, though. I did find myself slightly burned last night, which would have been really burned without that.)
We stayed in the water as long as we wanted, and decided it was time to go. The beach was filling up at an alarming rate, and I was absolutely amazed by all the stuff that people bring with them to the beach. It was even worse than when we used to bring the kids to the beach twenty years ago. Way worse. Seriously, these people are bringing their entire households with them. No wonder they have to drive those giant gas guzzlers. But, you know, mothers still held their toddlers' hands tightly as they took their first tentative steps into the deep, wide ocean, and little kids still squealed with delight as they ran from (or to!) each approaching wave. I love that.
The trip home was a nightmare, as many others abandoned their plans for a sunny day at the beach and headed home when we did. At 25 miles from the Bay Bridge, the sign said it was a 44-minute drive, but I am sure it took us longer than that. The prevailing stench was still everywhere we drove, and I was fascinated to find out later that the Great Dismal Swamp was burning, and we were smelling it across the entire state of Maryland. That's some smolder.
So this weekend I learned why everyone who lives here says to stay away from the Eastern Shore on the weekend, and I learned that the weather forecasters here - even the avuncular, folksy ones - lie, just like they do in Ohio. I'm looking at you, Marty Bass.