Part 2 of 3. First post is here.
Recapping our first day
After my bathroom rescue, we decided that our first activity would be a bike ride. I noticed droves of vacationers coming in off the beach and the sky to the west looked a bit, um, shall we say…gray? I mentioned it to Todd, who said, and I quote, Oh, that’s off-shore, it’s moving out and away from us.
So we hopped on our bikes and rode about 15 blocks when the first droplets hit my arms. No matter, it was a welcome rain after a hot and humid afternoon. Then it picked up. I noticed little hail balls bouncing off Todd’s backpack. Yes, HAIL. Then it began to rain harder. Todd shouted back to me about pulling off to shelter at the Acme – which, by the way, was nearly 60 blocks from our hotel. I was stuck behind the bus (if you’re not familiar, OCMD has a fleet of busses that run all day and night – fare is $3 – makes getting around fairly easy and reduces drunk-driving) which shares the bike lane, getting soaked to the skin in what would be a tropical rain storm were it not for the toxic bus fumes I was breathing in.
We waited under the roof of the Acme market, along with half a dozen shoppers who had clearly walked to the store for their groceries and were now as stuck as we were. Thunder rolled across the sky. I noticed a few flashes of lightning, and tried not to wonder if it was dangerous to be holding an aluminum bike in a thunderstorm, surrounded by a sea of metal shopping carts, some occupied and a great many others abandoned after shoppers loaded groceries into cars curbside. Really. Just left their empty carts right there. I had a few good laughs watching car after car pull up to, and then hit, the curb.
Forty-five minutes later, the rain began to let up and we decided to venture back to the hotel. I got halfway to the street, and my back tire was flat. Todd carried my bike a few blocks to the nearest gas station and attempted to inflate the tube, which exploded. Short backstory – I’ve owned this bike since 1996 and no one – NO ONE – has touched it until last weekend when we took it to a bike shop to replace the rim after “somebody” rolled over it in the garage. I rode this bike precisely 2.35 miles before my tire blew out. The same one that had to be re-inflated on a new rim. Coincidence?
So we waded walked the bikes all the way back to the hotel in more light rain, hair slicked back, clothing soaked. I’m a consummate puddle jumper, so I took the opportunity to further saturate myself, and my Vans, a few times before cars drove through the mini ponds in the bus/bike lane and sprayed us (I have your license plate #, you jerk).
We ended up having dinner later at Mackey’s, situated on the bay, at a table near the water – not next to it but close enough to see the bay gently lapping at the sandy beach we were seated on. The atmosphere was lovely and almost peaceful. It was only 8:30, but many of the tables were empty. In fact, much of Ocean City seemed oddly quiet – not like the rowdy OCMD I came to love in my 20s – for most of our stay.
Finally, Day 2
We planned to catch the sunrise but I woke up to a 5:30 a.m. alarm and shut that sucker off before it woke Todd, and promptly went back to sleep. We went for breakfast upstairs in the hotel – a top-floor, panoramic-view restaurant with a “roof-top bar” – a buffet, it turned out, and not even a shadow of Grand Hotel Cape May’s buffet at the same cost (upcoming post on that trip). Watery scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries with peppers (what IS it with peppers in buffet-home fries?), Barbie-sized pancakes, fruit salad, assorted cereals, and bagels halved, and then halved again.
No trip to OCMD is complete without a shopping excursion to Sunsations, a chain store covering all things beachy and not where one takes a kid if you don’t want to go broke on knick-knacks from China and hermit crabs painted like SpongeBob. However, they do sell nice beach chairs – and that was our mission.
After, we drove to a bike shop and not only got my tube replaced, but [BONUS!!!] decided to replace both of my 20-year-old tires (I didn’t ride much over the years – don’t judge). I was terribly afraid my tires were old to begin with and, after remembering the dude who replaced the rim back home said “they should be fine” and “see what the salt air does to them,” I realized he was no longer to be trusted and decided I couldn’t risk my laughter turning to homicide.
Now the fun stuff: We took a 4-something-mile ride to the restaurant where my lifelong friend works her summers and as I peered through the window her gaze fell on me and her eyes popped out. It was worth the 6 pounds of sweat I’d lost on the way there. We ate lunch and rode back, making a pit stop at the hotel, and then rode back out on a new mission to collect pint glasses (and a nice buzz) for our bar at home. We rode nearly the whole peninsula, making our final stop on the leg back at Higgins Crab House – a Maryland classic.
We sat at the rooftop bar and drank beers (sadly, no pint glasses), ordered some crab balls and fries, and listened to this aging Ken-doll making casual convo and, apparently, plans to meet up at Mackey’s later with two girls in their early 20s. You’re wondering about this Mackey’s place about now, aren’t you?
Anyway, I didn’t know he was that old until he mentioned Steve Austin in conversation with Todd, and he wasn’t talking about the pro-wrestler. Three beers in, and I had to clarify with Todd that the reference I just heard was really what I heard. Meanwhile, the seat to my left became occupied by a woman who had clearly lived her hey-days before smoking was declared dangerous.
Let’s first set the stage. Picture a perfect square and build a bar on it. Place 3 chairs on each of three sides. If you’ve done your math correctly, that’s 9 seats at the bar. We were seated in the middle, so there were people sitting across to our left, and also to our right. I was blessed to sit between Todd and this woman, and could only hear her voice as I was turned to face Todd. The things coming out of her mouth! What wasn’t lost in slurred speech was peppered with foul language. And she was there alone and chewing the ear off the poor guy on the corner to her left, who was obviously trapped between an urgent need to GTFO and the honorable thing to listen respectfully. And then… I cracked. From my shoulders to my eyeballs, I started sniggling so violently in my vain attempt to contain my hysteria that the only escape was through my tear ducts. And then I glanced up at the two girls across from me, and they were both staring at me and laughing equally as hard.
The woman was declaring (among other indiscernible things) that she was “in the military before they called it the military.” Todd looked at me and said, where’s “—” when you need him? A comical reference to a friend who would have given this lady the whole night, and another light, if she wanted it. It was time to leave, before I embarrassed myself further. The girl across from me said, you can’t leave now! And, admittedly, I considered the prospect of collecting more blog fodder before remembering we still had a long bike ride back to the hotel.
In total, that second day I documented over 24 miles of bike riding, and my nether regions weren’t just flying the white flag by the time we returned to the hotel, they were screaming for an ambulance.