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Virginia Beach Boardwalk, before all hell broke loose


So today’s blog is late because I woke up this morning in Virginia Beach. After a week of fun in the sun and an eight hour car ride, I’m back at my desk in Pittsburgh.

When you’re spending the week at the beach, you expect certain hiccups—sunscreen in your eyes, lost sunglasses, even a bit of sunburn.

What you don’t expect is to get caught in a hailstorm.

Let me set the scene.

Mom, Dad, and I are camped out right at the water’s edge. We’ve got the full setup—beach bags, towels, cooler, three beach chairs, and two big umbrellas.  There’s a beach packed with people, and we’re all minding our business and working on our tans.  (Well, not me.  I don’t tan.  I cover every inch of my body with SPF 100 sunscreen.  I’m the only person on the planet who returns from the beach paler than when I left.  But sunburns are seriously not my thing.)

But I digress. The whole lot of us are hanging around when a dark cloud materializes in the distance.  It moves in quickly and a few drops of rain fall.  There’s some stirring on the beach, but we’re not amateurs—the three of us know how quickly these summer storms come and go.  We decide to ride it out.


When the rain picks up, I offer to take our beach bags back to the hotel—that’ll protect our paperback novels, newspapers, and cash. Still thinking the storm is going to blow over, I leave Mom and Dad with the chairs, umbrellas, cooler, and most of the towels.  I dump the bags in the hotel room and head back out.

In the five minutes I was inside, all hell had broken loose.

I stepped out into driving wind and nearly horizontal rain. I wanted to jump back inside the hotel room, but I made my way back to the beach, knowing Mom and Dad couldn’t carry all our gear themselves.

I saw them both on the boardwalk, loaded down. The wind got hold of the umbrella Mom was holding and nearly lifted her off her feet. Dad’s hat flew into the sand.

“We left two chairs!” he shouted.

By this time, the rain was pelting me in the side of the head. My glasses were covered in raindrops and I was all but blind.  The rain grew harder until it started pinging off the side of my head.  It was then I realized that it wasn’t just rain, but hail!

I stumbled onto the beach, determined to find our chairs. Everyone else was rushing past me.  A beach umbrella flew by and nearly impaled me.  I felt like I was storming the beaches of Normandy in the wrong direction.

It was impossible to find our pervious spot, with everyone running around, hail pelting me, and wind blowing chairs and bags everywhere.

It was the closest to a hurricane I ever hope to get.

Just when I was about to give up, I saw the chairs, folded up and stacked on the sand. When I picked them up, the wind caught them and nearly pulled me off my feet.

One laboring step after another, I made my way back to the beach. Just as I was about to step onto the boardwalk, I caught a flash of blue in my eye.  I reached over and picked up my Dad’s hat.  I probably couldn’t have found that hat for a billion dollars if I’d been trying to find it, but there it was.

I stumbled into our hotel room. Mom and Dad were there—we were soaked to the skin, covered in sand, dripping all over the carpet and exhausted.

But we returned from that beach with every last piece of our equipment.

By the time we’d showered up and done our best to clean up the room, the hail was gone, the sun was out and the lifeguards were back at their posts.

It was like nothing had ever happened.

Such is life at the beach.