Bethany Beach

August 7, 2006 at 9:43 pm 8 comments

This past weekend, I spent a few days at Bethany Beach.  At one point my cousin Jordan asked my Uncle Jonathan, “Why Bethany Beach?”

“The Sawyers have a strong family history here,” Jonathan said.  He went on to explain how this was where his parents (my grandparents) took all seven of their children for a two week vacation each summer.

This kept on for the next generation.  When I was a child, different branches of the family convened on the very same beach.  Here is a picture from my childhood days.  Three branches are represented here.  From left to right:

Jennifer (JULIE), Vicky (LOWELL), Adam (MARK), Louise (MARK), Carolyn (LOWELL), Jordan (MARK), Jay (LOWELL)

Now that we are grown and the fleet of great-grandchildren increases each year, the Sawyers continue their way each summer to Bethany Beach. 

I only made it for a couple of days this year.  Here is a recap:

Journey There
Keeping with my whirlwind week, I left work at 5 PM on Wednesday evening.  It gave me an ETA at the beach around 12 AM.  Such a long journey would have been a bit of tedious for me alone at the late hour.  Luckily, I had a companion!  Christina Geyer, still visiting from Germany, agreed to brave a household of Sawyers for an extended weekend!  I picked her up in Herndon and drove the remaining 3 hours captivated by great conversation and memories of our high school days.  The trip whizzed by.

We did have a little bit of a hiccup.  We arrived at 2nd Street at Bethany Beach and lo and behold the lowest house number was 97.  That made our address of “5” a little bit of a quandary.  I tried calling every cell phone number I had.  Uncle Jonny, Uncle Mark, Mom, Jay, Carolyn, Dad, Cousin Sam.  The only phone that was answered was Dad’s and that was answered by a complete stranger.  It turns out my father lent his phone to a friend who was still in the Occoquan area.  The stranger asked if he could take a message.  Somehow that didn’t seem like it would help me find a bed for the evening, so I declined his offer.

After another iteration through all the family cell phones, we reconsulted the email and saw the address was South Bethany Beach.  No biggie, we drove down there where we found two different 2nd Streets.  Of course the first 2nd Street we tried hosted a house number 5– but no familiar vehicles.  So finally on our third 2nd Street– we found our home for the next few days.

Sleeping Arrangements and the Turtle
Christina and I got to relive one particular high school experience– the sleepover.  We shared a room in the beach house.  She slept in a day bed and I slept on a mattress on the floor.  Christina reported my snoring was not that bad– but she did note something peculiar.  She described me sleeping all curled up in a ball with my legs and arms underneath my body.

“Oh no!” I gasped, “That’s the turtle– you’re supposed to wake me when I do that!”

I told her what she couldn’t possibly know— that when I slept like that, all my extremities fell asleep.  Waking up with one asleep limb is painful (and unnerving) enough.  Two arms and two legs at the same time were unbearable.  Sean was trained to wake me when he saw me sleeping like that.

So I thought…..

Later during the trip, I was telling Sean that Christina spotted the turtle.

“Yeah, you’ve been doing that a lot lately,” Sean said.

“I have?  How come you didn’t wake me up?!?” I said.

Sean’s response?


First Day at the Beach – Dad
Thursday brought quite a surprise— my FATHER, yes, Lowell Sawyer, actually went to the beach.  Even as a child, I recall my father’s visits to the actual shoreline to be fleeting.  Everyone was surprised.

“Does Dad even have a bathing suit?!?!” I had asked.

It turns out (despite my mother’s original answer) that my father did not in fact have a bathing suit.  He did, however, have burgundy underwear.

Anyway, I rushed out to document such an event, but I was too late.  The biting flies had already scared my father away.  Hopefully this is proof enough– my father retreating from the beach with his chair:

First Day at the Beach – Nail Color
My cousin Samantha and I enjoy coloring our nails at the beach.  This year my mother brought some new supplies– Instant Manicure by Avon.  It’s a weird product.  It comes in premade strips where you can rub on color and it is instantly dry.

It seemed to take longer to apply than regular nail polish and it left quite a bit of trash, but it turns out the color was pretty persistent.  I made numerous trips to the ocean and went kayaking and the color still seems to be going strong.

First Day at the Beach – Swimming Challenge
While we were in the ocean the first day, my Uncle Jonny made jokes about swimming a half mile out in the ocean and then a half mile back.  My mother compromised and pointed to an umbrella down the shore and told us to see if we could swim parallel along the shore to that umbrella and back.  Little did my relatives know– I swim laps at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center!  I can almost do a mile in 40 minutes.  Of course, it would be a lot rougher in the tides, but the distance was significantly shorter, so it turned out to not be a problem.  My mom was so convinced I wouldn’t make it, when I was almost back, I passed my brother swimming towards me.

“Mom sent me after you,” he said, interrupted by a wave, “She was worried.”

It’s nice to surprise your kin once in a while.

First Day at the Beach – Controversial Place Setting
For dinner, Mark and Denise made homemade sauce and pasta.  As the hour of the meal arrived, Uncle Stephen and Aunt Kathy joined the beach house for a quick visit.  When they entered, they explained immediately their company would be short lived.

“We’re supposed to be buying rolls,” Aunt Kathy said.  They further explained that their dinner was almost ready and they would have to hurry home.  That was an important fact that my grandmother missed.

Shortly afterwards Mark announced that dinner was almost ready and asked for someone to set the table.  Christina and I, anxious to earn our keep, went ahead and set the table.  A little while later, Steve and Kathy departed to return to their casserole and their immediate family.

Dinner came along and we all held hands and said the blessing and sat down at our various tables to eat.

“Boys and Girls,” Grandma said, “I have something to say.”

I smiled and leaned in, expecting to hear my grandmother talk sentimentally about how nice it was to see so many family members gathered at the shore.


Grandma reprimanded us for setting the table in front of our “guests”.  She thought it was rude.  I think she even used the word “appalled”.  I believe she thought our act accelerated Steve’s departure.  She had no idea that he was invited for dinner but declined the invitation.  She had no idea he established an exit plan the moment he set foot in the house.

I apologized afterwards and she told me to never let it happen again.

I took the wrap for my Uncle Steve that night.  I doubt he or my grandmother will ever know.

First Day at the Beach – Jay and Vicky Bike
When my siblings were young, we biked excessively– especially at the beach.  For the first time in at least 15 years, my brother and I biked together.  We went from our beach house in South Bethany Beach to the Dickie’s Frozen Yogurt in downtown Bethany and back.  My bike was a little rustic.  I had dry rot on back tire and it liked to shift gears without my consent.  Nonetheless, I loved the ride.  It was invigorating and our return had us riding at dusk– my favorite time of the day.

First Day at the Beach – Nostalgic Second Wind
That evening, a number of people went to go see the new Superman movie.  Christina and I were deterred by the 10:10 PM start time.  We both believed we would fall asleep and lamented how old we were now.

Turns out we aren’t as old as we thought.  We ended up sitting in our respective beds and chatting….until 3 AM! 

Second Day at the Beach – Different Generations, Different Perspectives
The next morning, I spent some brief time on the beach.  I sat with my grandmother a while and chatted under the newly purchased beach umbrellas. 

At one point Grandma shook her head and said, “I can’t believe the swimsuits nowadays.”

Right on cue, a wet Uncle Jonny returned to the beach blanket.

“I need to get my sunglasses,” he said, “So I can admire these bikinis!”  🙂

Second Day at the Beach – Kayaking and Glasses Lost
Finally we got to do my favorite beach activity– Kayaking in Assawoman Bay!!!  This year it was Cousin Sam, Cousin Frank, Cousin Jordan, Uncle Timmy and I on the adventure!  It was a wonderful outing.  I got to chat with Sam.  I got to watch Frank and Jordan joust, capsize and wrestle in the bay.  And I got to have a secluded lap through a salt marsh.  The most predominant sounds were the rhythmic strokes of my paddle and the calls of various sea birds.  Then, periodically, off in the distance, I can hear Jordan and Frank yelling, talking smack! 🙂

Earlier in the week I discovered I left my old glasses (with transitional lenses) at home– which meant I didn’t have viable sunglasses.  Then later I made the chilling discovery that I also left my contacts at home.  The only thing I had with me was my brand new, week old, pink glasses.  Glasses with the most expensive, thinnest, clearest lenses money could buy (pictured below with my brother Jay).

“If I lose these glasses,” I told my family, “I’ll be screwed.”

This is what Sean would call an “Of course” moment:

Of course, I would lose those glasses!  I was very cautious kayaking.  In fact, I kept my distance from the rambunctious Jordan and Frank to ensure they wouldn’t flip me during their horseplay.  The journey was almost over– we were nearing the return spot when I got some sunscreen in my eye.  I went to rub the stinging eye and WHOOSH– my glasses flew off and directly into the bay.  Immediately I jumped into the water and started to fish around.  Soon all my relatives joined in the search, but to no avail.

My brand new glasses were long gone…. and I was left blind.

The scenario turned out to not be as bad as I had originally thought.  I was able to get a Lenscrafters in Salisbury, Maryland to fill my contact lenses prescription.  Not without its frustrations however– the whole ordeal took 6 hours and I was less than impressed with my eye doctor here in Christiansburg, Virginia.

I owe Christina Geyer and Stacy McMahon a big thank you for putting their plans on hold and chauffeuring me around to regain my sight.

This incident is making me think twice about two products:

  • Sweatproof sunscreen
  • Lasix Surgery

Second Day at the Beach – Walk and Story Telling
When we returned to the beach house, me the proud owner of new contacts, I decided to go for an evening walk on the beach.  It was a nice walk.  All over the waterline, I could see the silhouettes of little birds digging in the wet sand for food.  Every time a wave would arrive, they would run away and when the wave retreated they would run back towards the sea.  As a result, I had a living border to show me where the waves were.

When I returned to the house, I rotated between visiting with Christina and Stacy in the bedroom and visiting with my relatives in the kitchen.  My timing could be improved upon.  Christina reported that one two occasions, Stacy was in the middle of a story and I got up and left the room without a word.  Poor Stacy! 🙂

One surprising highlight was hearing K’naan playing from the house CD player.  My brother had borrowed it and liked it enough to play it twice!

Third Day – Departure
On the third day, we scrambled to finish up leftovers and reclaim everyone’s sheets.  All the Sawyers met in the road to say our goodbyes and get one last group picture.  My cousin Melanie walked around and hugged everyone goodbye.  I watched her as she made the rounds.

“Goodbye, Frankie!” she’d say and give him a hug.

“Goodbye, Sam!” she’d say and give her a hug.

She came to me and embraced me, “Goodbye……….Person.”

Apparently, I’ll have to make more of an impression on my youngest cousin! 🙂

Other Recaps
Christina Geyer’s Recap

Entry filed under: Bethany Beach, Carolyn L, Christina G, Dad, Frank, Grandma, J Gerard Sawyer, Jay, Jonny Sawyer, K'naan, Kathy Sawyer, Mark Sawyer, Mom, Samantha Sawyer, Sean, Stacy McMahon, Steve Sawyer, Timmy Sawyer.

Hair Color Flip Flop How to Endear Yourself to Neighbors

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melanie  |  August 8, 2006 at 8:32 am

    Sounds like you had a great time at Bethany. I love that beach. Did you get a chance to see the dolphins swimming in the morning? Maybe I’ll take Ty up to Bethany Beach next year. Of course, he’ll probably just eat the sand. Thanks for sharing the stories of your trip. Talk to you soon!

  • 2. tgaw  |  August 8, 2006 at 10:43 am

    I didn’t see any dolphins at Bethany– but I did see some at Assateague on Saturday. I’m hoping to re-type those adventures this evening. My Assateague entry was tragically lost last night when I didn’t follow my own time-tested copy and paste policy! 🙂

  • 3. Clint  |  August 8, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    hahahaha, sometimes you need to lose a big textarea to re-learn the lesson of “always copy to clipboard before submitting”. I, too, need to have this reinforced every year or so.

    The craziest is copying your textarea to clipboard AFTER clicking submit. You have to do it really fast (or have a slow firewall at work).

  • 4. Carolyn  |  August 9, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    i saw dolphins or porpoises or something at bethany around noonish or before with mom. i kept pointing them out and mom would be like “I need 20/15 vision”

  • 5. TGAW » How to Endear Yourself to Neighbors - Part II  |  August 14, 2006 at 9:11 am

    […] Last night I was chatting with one of my neighbors and he asked if Sean and I had gone on a vacation.  I excitedly told him tales from Bethany Beach and Assateague Island. […]

  • 7. Cara Fletcher  |  April 8, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    I can say you have great time from what I’ve read.It’s great you have tried ocean kayaking with your family and after all the time spended with the family is unvaluable.

  • 8. 2002 cbr f4i honda  |  May 8, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    2002 cbr f4i honda

    ha-rd-po-rn-fu-ck 2228560 Very actual information about 2002 cbr f4i honda.


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