Category Archives: dating

assateague: back-country camping on the beach

When A. and I asked for a back country pass two weekends ago at Assateague along the Maryland shore, the ranger looked at us and raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure?” he asked. “I’m just warning you, since it rained last night, the bugs are going to be terrible.” A female ranger yelled from the back room in agreement. “We’ve had people go out and turn back, upset with us,” he said. A. and I looked at each other, slightly bewildered, but said we still wanted to do it. “Yeah?” A. asked me, to be sure. “Yeah,” I said. “Let’s do it.” The ranger said: “Make sure you get 50 to 60 percent deet.” It was 40 percent chance of thunderstorms — and the skies weren’t promising — but this was an adventure.

After filling up with eggs and bacon at “The Best Breakfast Place In The Country,” and grabbing my much-craved latte, we swung by my cousin’s place in Ocean City. B. had said her husband J. calls Assateague “Assfatigue.” B. and J. smiled and shook their heads that we were going to brave the bugs and rain. “Keep us posted! You can always sleep on the couch!” they said.

By 2 p.m., we were ready for our four-mile hike. The clouds cleared, the sun was high and the beaches were packed. Wild horses grazed in the brush near the parking lot. We lathered up with sunscreen, loaded our packs on our backs, and trekked on the hard-packed sand on the ocean’s shore. After two miles, sweating in the heat, we threw our packs down, ate trail mix, changed into our suits behind scant bushes and literally ran into the warm ocean to play in the waves. The rip tide carried us both down the coast and we joyfully gave into it.

We arrived at the campsite well before dark and went on a hunt for firewood (it wasn’t easy among the burrs, a few of which caught in A.’s foot.) We sprayed bug spray on exposed skin (thank goodness we had repellant).

We set up the tent on the beach, and as the sun went down, A. lit the stove for our dinner of pork and beans, corn, green beans and Lipton noodles. In the far-off distance, the sky lit up with lightning. Above us, the stars shone brilliantly — and I wished I could remember more constellations besides the dippers.

A. made a fire, and we sat on a towel — salty, happily dirty and relaxed — before running back into the dark ocean. But the best part was there were only three other tents. The rangers must have scared everyone away. It was gorgeous, quiet and soul-charging. And all to ourselves.

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thanks for the furlough

Last week, I was scheduled three furlough days — where I had to use vacation or take them unpaid. I ultimately decided not to go anywhere because my brother was staying with me and arriving from Bangalore, India, where he spent the summer. But as the days approached, I couldn’t believe I was taking a “staycation” and not jetting off to a new, exciting place.

But the time was glorious. I slept in and sipped coffee on the couch in the morning. I met girlfriends for mid-afternoon coffees. I bought myself a funky dress and some sandals. I saw a matinee of Funny People by myself and then read my book on the water in Georgetown while sipping an iced chai. I repotted a plant, cleaned my room, did laundry, went on a run, and made myself a dinner of salmon, corn on the cob and salad.

And on Wednesday, A. played hooky and booked a white water kayaking trip to Harpers Ferry, W. Va. He did the work — he found the river guides, mapped it, drove and prepaid. All he asked is that I pack a lunch — I filled a bag of PB&J, peaches, apples, bananas, trail mix and protein bars and coconut water. It was hot and sunny. We put on PFDs (personal floating devices) and helmets and rowed our way down the river through relatively mild rapids (I still have blisters on my lower fingers from the workout). As dusk approached, we split a burger in a restaurant in an old red train car across from the train station in downtown Harpers Ferry. And when we got home — smelling of river water — at 8:30 p.m. on my last day of furlough, I was worn out and happy.

Time off — even if it’s forced and you don’t go anywhere — is an amazing, healthy treat.

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no sleep for the happy

Oh, I’m so behind in my postings. And part of that is because I’ve been traveling — and hanging out with A., who has picked me up from the airport twice.

On Tuesday, A. and I played tennis in Alexandria. He picked me up from the Metro (he’s always early, and was leaning against his red Mazda when I arrived. It’s the little things). We drove to some courts with lights near woods and volleyed the ball back and forth, making each other sprint all over the court. When we were tired of playing, I had so much energy, I wanted to run — so we jogged slowly around a dark soccer field to cool down. When we got in the car, it was 9:30 p.m., and I said, “Oh, it’s so early!”

And then I marveled at myself. Did I really say that on a school night? Maybe it’s because it’s summer and the days are long, or because I’m happy, or because I just want to be awake to enjoy all the little things — but my concept of time in the last month has changed. I haven’t needed or wanted sleep (not nearly as much as I did before). I can get by on 5 hours — and 8 hours is, well, 8 is really satisfying. But not important. I said to A. about a week ago: “You have to know that I LOVE sleep — and I don’t want to sleep when I’m spending time with you.”

But this feeling is so much more than A. — and maybe that’s why it’s so satisfying. I’m happy in general. I love my job, and my coworkers — so many of them make me laugh and bring me joy day-to-day — including last night as we drank Spotted Cow beer from Wisconsin and pomegranate vodka martinis on the roof.

This summer, so far, I’ve also been on several spontaneous trips, including to California for an amazingly fun wedding; Detroit to see my parents; Alabama for the Fourth of JU-lie (as they say down there), where we went water-skiing and ate juicy watermelon and BBQ.

I am headed to Bethany Beach next weekend for four days to see my mom’s side of the family. The following week, J. is visiting from Somiland. On Aug. 1, I’m headed to a N.J. with two of my favorite girlfriends S. and B. to eat pasta, do a mini triathlon and hang out on the Jersey shore. In August, I’m planning another five-day trip to San Francisco to go camping in Yosemite with some of my closest college girlfriends. And over Labor Day, I have tickets to the U.S. Open in New York with R. and K.

Who needs sleep when there is so much to do, see — and feel?

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appalachia and babies

I spent 36 hours with A. this weekend. That’s the most time I’ve spent with anyone in a very long time, and it was easy and relaxed. On Sunday, we drove out to the Appalachian trail near Front Royal, Va. As we walked along, in search of a stream, A. stopped fast and grabbed my arm. Up ahead, a good 100 yards, was a black bear with three cubs. The bear looked to be foraging for food, and it didn’t hear us or see us. As we whispered, I pulled out my camera, but my zoom isn’t strong enough, so I only got black dots between fuzzy trees. We stood and watched, frozen and fascinated.

Of course, we turned around and took a different path, up and away from the bears, chatting and walking through cobwebs. It was clear no one had been on this path in a long time. We crossed over Skyline Drive and went down a different trail, swatting away bugs in the humidity. That’s when we came across the frame of an old car — it looked to be from the 1930s. It didn’t have wheels or an engine or a roof. But it was deep under the dirt and foliage, as if no one had seen it for years, completely suspended in time.

A while later, around 6 p.m., after eating bananas and trail mix and chugging down water, we got back into the car. As we slowly drove along, we saw a deer run to the road, with two fumbling fawns along its legs. They had big floppy ears and were so cute, it made my heart leap. I love being out in nature, exploring and discovering and appreciating the moment. It’s quiet and still and I can hear myself think. I can’t wait to go back.

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