CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. – Our Family awoke this morning at the KOA. A squirrel spent some time visiting Ethan, most likely because a) Ethan was in the middle of breakfast, and b) breakfast consisted largely of peanut butter.
As you can see, he was quick to send the infiltrator packing.
Soon after breakfast, our group worked their way out of the campground and up through North Carolina’s interior, marveling at the tobacco fields along the way.
“It’s been many years since I’ve seen tobacco fields,” Michelle said. “I remember one farm in particular near Rocheport, Missouri when I worked on the Katy Trail, but that’s it until now…and today we saw a wealth of them.”
Today was barbecue day. After exhaustive research (“Yeah, believe me, it was exhaustive…and exhausting for the rest of us,” Greg remarked), the Family stopped at a renowned North Carolina institution – Skylight Inn – where they go whole hog and roast the full pig over oak, then as they chop the pig up, they incorporate the cracklins right back in.
“It was really something,” said Michelle. “The cracklins are crunchy, which is kind of a strange thing for a Midwesterner, but they were GOOD, and once Laurel was talked into it, she tried the coleslaw and – get this – LIKED IT, despite the number of times she insisted to the contrary. I have told her and told her she should try things again and again because she might find a recipe she liked…”
At this point, Michelle fixed Laurel with a pointed look.
“Sorrrrreeeeee,” said Laurel, and went about her business.
“Anyway, the unleavened cornbread was also a chewy, tasty novelty…” Michelle added.
After that, the Family’s bellies were full (except Ethan’s, who refused to eat his lunch), but they soldiered on to Greenville and B’s Barbecue, where Greg pulled the whole big camper over to the side of the road so Michelle could run in and get barbecue to go.
“It wasn’t air-conditioned in there. It was so hot,” Michelle observed. “Maybe that’s why there were empty tables, because I understand that is a rarity. At any rate, I frankly don’t know how those ladies keep their good humor. The fun part? It really LOOKS like a barbecue shack – that’s how you know it’s good.”
Michelle scurried back to the road with the goods, then after ensuring no traffic would flatten her, unlocked and climbed into the camper to refrigerate the food for later.
The merry misfits wound up at Cape Hatteras National Seashore around 4 p.m. where they dropped their trailer and promptly visited the beach. It was, after all, all of a block away from the camper.
Ethan played with his boat (he was scared of the waves, light though they were), Greg and Laurel played in the water, Michelle and Laurel played in the water….
And then Michelle found this:
Folks, that’s a jellyfish. And after that, Ethan found 4 or 5 more, also washed ashore.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I GOT STUNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Yes, that was Laurel.
And she had been stung.
By a jellyfish.
So back to the camp they went, to find something to help the welts.
“Vinegar. Pickles. Just find something,” Michelle said. Greg offered to pee on Laurel, but she declined. Ethan, too, would have stepped up to the occasion. But instead, Greg and Laurel went to the camp store for mundane meat tenderizer and the even more ho-hum vinegar.
“Laurel should thank me for Googling jellyfish stings,” Michelle said. “And here I was resistant to getting one of those candy-ass fancy-pants phones that can do that kind of thing.”
So Laurel spent quality time in her chair with her meat tenderizer.
And Michelle, so helpful, said, “Gee, Laurel…you know…you smell kinda good. Like tasty meat.”
Granted, it was just before supper, but that was not well-received.
So as consolation, they allowed Laurel (henceforth “The Jellyfish Victim”) to choose dinner for the evening. She chose pizza. “No,” said Greg. “Not at ALL predictable.”
And pizza it was. Good pizza, even! Why? “Because I had researched things to death, of course, and everyone makes fun of me but then they are SO GLAD that they aren’t eating CRAP, and then I get to rub it in their mocking little faces,” Michelle noted. She’s a little tense right now.
Folks, while adventurous with other foods, Michelle is a traditionalist when it comes to pizza and burgers. She doesn’t like pizzas that don’t have, say, pizza sauce on them. No barbecue, no pesto, no ‘white sauce,’ none of that BS. She just likes plain old pizza sauce.
Ethan, on the other hand, had just one thing in mind.
“I want pineapple!!!” he exclaimed.
“Are you sure? Do you want ham and pineapple?” Michelle asked. “That is a pretty popular pizza.”
“NO! Just pineapple,” he said.
So pineapple it was, and pineapple he ate. And ate. And ate. Probably because he didn’t eat much for breakfast, on account of the squirrel, or for lunch, on account of…well, this reporter hasn’t quite figured him out yet.
At any rate, once they returned to the camp, Greg decided to finish off the night right, by taking the kids on a bike ride. Michelle was uninterested, but sidled up to him, whispering, “You know, if you were to come back with chocolate in your hand, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.”
And that is what he did. Coconut M&Ms. Who knew? They’re like Mounds, but in little disc form.
So how is the vacation so far?
“Every day, at the end of the day, when we’ve finally (FINALLY) gotten the kids to settle down, when everyone is reasonably clean and the sun is setting, and I am tired, I wonder if I can handle one more day or if we should just pack it up and go home, to hell with our prepaid reservations,”Michelle observed.
“But then,” she continued, “the next morning I wake up and I can’t wait to see what the next day has in store for us.”
And with that, she headed off to get Ethan into bed. After he played with the campsite toad. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.
*Editor’s Note, 20:43 EDT: It seems Laurel is now wearing her jellyfish stings as a badge of honor. They no longer hurt, she reports, and she cannot wait to tell all her friends that she, SHE, was the first of her group to be stung by a jellyfish. And so it goes.
*Editor’s Note, the Second: Laurel would like me to add that after visiting all those barbecue joints, she ended up with meat tenderizer up to her elbows. A fine ending to a fine day, she believes.