So, twenty-six years ago, Chrissy and I were in full swing with wedding planning. Actually, it was mostly Chrissy’s mom with some input from Chrissy. Anyway, at some point we thought, we need to plan a honeymoon.
We thought of amazing destinations where we could go. We dreamed of white sandy beaches in a tropical paradise. We would be in an adult only all-inclusive resort. You know the kind that has all the food you can eat and cabanas on the beach. The beach would have big palm trees, and there would definitely be a hammock strung between them. So, we thought Cancun would be great!
Then, we looked at the price, and thought well, that would be a nice dream vacation someday, but my full-time job as walk-off rug cleaner and part-time job as a stocker at Giant grocery store, plus running a professional photo studio on the side just didn’t cut it– even with adding Chrissy’s almost full-time job at Giant, it just wasn’t going to be enough. This was a dream.
So, we dreamed smaller and closer to a what-we-thought-we-might-get-in-wedding- gifts kind of budget. We thought and thought, and then a friend of mine at work, Mike Linn, told me of a place he took his family for vacation. This sounded like it might work. It was on a beach by the ocean. It was an island. We would be going in August, so somewhat tropical. And check this out, it had wild horse roaming the island freely! It was about 6 hours away from home, so we would definitely be getting away. Perfect, I thought.
Side Note: I am from the mountains of Pennsylvania. I grew up hiking, fishing and camping… you know, your all around outdoors kind of stuff. I didn’t see any issues with doing whatever I had to, to make thing work.
So I took the idea of this tropical paradise to Chrissy. I told her it wasn’t Cancun, but it was like an adventure island paradise. The only thing was that there were no hotels. Thinking quickly, I said “It will be like our own little cabana on the beach, but it will just look more like a small dome tent.”
Side Note: I really don’t think I said that, but I wish I had– that would have been good!
So I told her about us camping on the beach, having a campfire with wild horses all around. I said, “It will be great, we’ll be able to go to sleep listening to the crashing waves of the ocean. I then told her the best part– it was a national park, so it was inexpensive! So cheap that we might be able to spend one night on the way back home in a hotel! I really think the horses got her, because she said yes!
How cool was this going to be! Honeymooning on the beach! I was so excited.
Our big day came, and our first night being newlyweds we spent locally. Our wedding party went together and got us a room at a local fancy hotel. I think it was the new Sheriton Hotel in downtown Williamsport. Our plans were to open our wedding gifts the next day, and then head out on our adventure. I had the Subaru all packed and ready to go, we were off!
We had the tunes cranked, the sun in our faces, and the wind blowing through our hair, life was good! We pulled in to the park late that afternoon. We hiked our gear over a sand dune and picked a spot where we could see and hear the ocean, and that’s where we pitched our cozy bungalow for two. I remember it being hot! Not just a little warm, but humid, hot. The kind of hot that made you so sticky and nasty that you just didn’t want anyone to touch you. That is great for a honeymoon. Not really.
Sometime after we decided to go here, my parents reminded me that I had been here before when I was little. They also said something about watching out for the state bird, it was a real blood sucker? Yup– mosquitos! So, I being full of ingenuity, thought we just need a screen tent to go over our dome tent. That would keep the bugs at bay.
I also may have forgotten to mention that the park had showers, but no hot water, only cold. Not bad when you’re hot and toasty, but in the cooler morning air, it was a bit of a shock. Another thing that we didn’t anticipate was all the sand. That sounds really stupid, beach, sand… that’s what a beach is, it’s sand. Duh! So, we spent our honeymoon nights in our hot tent with sweaty bodies that were covered with sand that we just couldn’t seem to get off, and we tried to not touch each other. Because of the heat and dryness we couldn’t have a fire either. So much for a romantic paradise on this honeymoon.
As the days went by, we did create great memories together and had fun exploring the island by day and swimming in the ocean. We even went to the Ocean City Boardwalk. This is where Chrissy begged me to get one of those old fashion type pictures done. I had always dreamed of going there and getting t-shirts that said “I’m hers” and “He’s mine”. I know I’m corny that way, but instead of t-shirts, we got this dorky photo of us looking like we got married in the civil war era. If you look close at the photo you can see the sweat rolling down our faces. But we had fun doing it, and that’s all that matters.
Wednesday, we had a visit from a park ranger. He wanted to let us know that there was a chance of a storm that night, and we should be careful. I thought, oh I have camped in bad weather before, no big del. I remember laying in my family’s old canvas tent listening to the thunder and watching the lightning illuminate the top of the tent. Mom and Dad would say, stay away from the sides of the tent, because if you touch them, it will leak. Ah, those were the days. Storms– no problem.
I reassured Chrissy that it would be fine, and we would be perfectly safe. Well, that night the temperature dropped, and it was cold. As we were brushing off as much sand as we could before getting into the tent, the unthinkable happened. I helped Chrissy into the tent and swung my arm back and I felt something leave my hand. That’s right– it was my wedding band. It was like slow motion, I stood there saying, “nooooo!” Then I thought, don’t move. Just get a light, and you will find it. My fingers had shrunk because of the cold weather, and the ring was just loose enough to fly off. Chrissy asked “What’s wrong?” I said, “I lost my ring, it flew off my finger.”
At that moment I remembered thinking about all the times my mom told me not to were rings in the ocean because she had lost a diamond ring in the ocean one time. Then I was brought back to reality by the sound of our little honeymoon bungalow being zipped up. Then I heard my wife say, “You’re not coming in here until you find that ring!”
I frantically looked through the sand for my ring. Nothing. I said, “Look I’m cold, I’ll find it in the morning.” Chrissy said, “No, you will find that ring now!” I think there was some exchange between us about how much our Wes Freedmen wedding rings cost us, and about how we didn’t have that kind of money to get another one. I think my ring was like $60. So, I continued to look, shivering all the while, knowing that even if I found the ring, she was not going to cuddle with me to get me warm. Honestly, I don’t blame her at all. We had sand everywhere, and it just wouldn’t leave.
Finally, I shined the light down, and saw a glimmer of gold. I reached down, and sure enough, it was my ring. I snatched it up, and pumped my arms in the air victoriously while shouting, “I got it, now let me in!”
The storms never came that night, but the next morning we had anther visit from Ranger Rick. He told us that we would have to cut our stay short because the storms that were coming in were now upgraded to a tropical storm. I guess there was a hurricane somewhere out on the ocean, and now it was coming towards our tropical paradise.
So, we packed our tents and gear back into the Subaru and headed back north. We decided to stop in Baltimore for the rest of our time. We visited Inner Harbor and a few other places, but the best part was the Red Roof Inn. We got hot showers and washed all (and I mean ALL) the sand off. We even had a nice bed to sleep in.
It was a good thing that we did pack it in and leave. The island was hit with a strong tropical storm that I’m sure our bungalow would not have survived.
We have always lived the adventure. We don’t look for it, but it always seems to find us. I try to never complain that life is boring. If I did, who knows what stories would come from that.