Tag Archives: Puget Sound

It’s Magic!

Sunset on Pamlico Sound, Outer Banks, NC
Sunset on Pamlico Sound, Outer Banks, NC

With one last stab at having a warm, beach break on the east coast after a cool, wet summer we slipped down the narrow peninsula in Virginia that is isolated from the rest of the state by Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. We leapt across the mouth of the bay on the 23 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel – one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World – and on to the barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks of North Carolina (this is back in 2009 in our time machine).

In Cape Hatteras we received free full body exfoliation courtesy of sand blasting at the beach. Wrapping ourselves in our beach towel to stand with wind and sand stinging our legs, we admired the spectacular surf. A high tide with huge rollers was being pushed back by an offshore wind.

Brave souls testing the surf
Brave souls testing the surf

Breaking, crashing and frothing, the surf created spray rainbows. After watching several brollies turn themselves inside out and cartwheel down the beach, we abandoned the beach and sank into the dunes for protection from the wind. With no view of the ocean we persevered long enough to eat our gritty sandwiches.

We should have stayed in Puget Sound in Washington State on the west coast with their good view of Mt. Rainier. They had a wonderful summer.

This was prefaced by an evening of country music and line dancing in Rockyhock, North Carolina, after which we set off on an obscure route of roads so feint looking on the map that I knew an appointment with the optician was needed. I had pegged with my finger the junction where I should start looking – after a millimeter, maybe a mile – for a bridge. Jimmy drove and drove and drove. The bridge looked to be about three miles long on the map. Even I couldn’t miss that. But it didn’t materialize.

I was presented with a dilemma. Do I say something and set the scene for a possible “lost again!” scenario or just keep quiet and hope things will right themselves by magic. They sometimes do. I decided to voice my concerns without making it look like my fault.

“This doesn’t seem right. We should have come to a bridge by now.”

“You should have studied the map before we set off, shouldn’t you?”

Well that didn’t work did it?

“We can’t turn around here” he said, voicing his annoyance. We were on a narrow country road with deep ditches, possibly full of alligators, on either side.

Helloooo, my preciousssss
Helloooo, my preciousssss

I started to squirm and my sweaty palm wrinkled up the road atlas. As is usual in these circumstances we passed the next five minutes in silence.

“Oh, look. Route 94.”


“Nothing,” I replied hastily. I could see my mistake. How stupid. I held my breath and willed the bridge to appear. By magic. And it did.

About halfway along the lengthy stretch of bridge over the Albemarle Sound, a poor pancaked rabbit appeared on the roadway. “How did he get out here?” himself asked.

“He probably had someone like me navigating for him,” I retorted without contrition.

No thanks to me, but we hadn’t taken any wrong turns after all.

Sunset on Pamlico Sound, Outer Banks, NC - my reward for navigating badly.
Sunset on Pamlico Sound, Outer Banks, NC – my reward for navigating badly.

The “Wrong” Side

Homesick for my adopted country, England, I spent two weeks basking in glorious sunshine having left himself behind in his adopted country to contend with yet more torrential downpours. A daily occurrence on the Puget Sound he told me on the phone. Oh golly.

I was not allowed to pick up a rental car from Heathrow Airport on arrival after a night flight as my minder/usual travelling companion feared I would either circle London endlessly on the M25 or fall asleep at the wheel. Unable to defend myself I hopped on the tube.

After a day’s R & R from jet lag, I collected a teeny rental car and was completely flummoxed by a) a manual gearbox, b) a clutch, c) having to drive on the left again, d) sitting my bum so close to the road and e) an empty gas tank. I hadn’t touched a petrol/gas/diesel pump in over two years and the hand I usually had spare from not having to change gears had become accustomed to holding a cup of coffee.

Firing up disused neural pathways along with the engine, I successfully exited the rental car parking lot using an eleven point turn while pumping the clutch as though inflating an air bed. Had I been a fool to refuse the collision damage waiver to save a few pennies?

With intense concentration, I avoided all the other road users without a blast from their horns or angry hand gestures, sidled into a nearby petrol station on the correct side of the pump (ha!), filled the tank and drove up to the kiosk to pay. I felt I had achieved a major feat. Smiling triumphantly, debit card in hand, I was asked “Which pump?”


“Pump number?”

“Oh. I don’t know.” Deflated and much to the chagrin of the drivers in the queue of cars behind me, I squeezed out of the car having neatly pulled up an arm’s length from the kiosk so I could reach the window. I winced at the looks of pure hostility of the DRIVERS IN A HURRY. Three was my number and I slunk back to the car.

It’s shocking how I’d allowed myself to coast into blond tag-along mode. Having slowly and happily let my independence slip away over the years, I had to give myself a mental slap and take responsibility for myself for at least two weeks. Once that was accomplished, I enjoyed being responsible only for myself. Meals when I was hungry instead of at mealtime, trashy TV at full volume, junk food with no looks of disapproval, shopping more than was good for my wallet and a curious feeling of liberation when stepping out of the door without telling anyone where I was going or when I’d be back.

Driving on the wrong side soon became the right side even though it was the left side. And driving on the right when I returned to the States would then feel wrong even though it was right.

Not me but this is how I felt. I fell down into the rental car and climbed up out it, more used to climbing up into our SUV and falling out of it!