Vacation, Day 3, Part 1 – Souvenir Shops

We all slept in on Thursday morning, so we were more than ready for breakfast by the time we pulled ourselves together. I thought there must be plenty of eateries along Atlantic Avenue, so we herded the Hooligans into the elevator and out onto the streets of Virginia Beach.

We walked one block, then two, then three — there really weren’t many breakfast opportunities. Meanwhile, though, we were passing some enticing souvenir shops. Diamondqueen and I kept the kids moving by promising we’d be stopping in those stores on the way back from wherever we were trying to get to.

Finally I spotted a restaurant a block up and parallel to where we were walking. They even offered a breakfast buffet. J.Hooligan, of course, decided he didn’t like the restaurant on sight, and S.Hooligan spied a Pac-Man machine near the door as we walked in and became obsessed with the idea of getting to play. Diamondqueen filled both their plates with bacon (it’s scary how much those children love bacon) plus a few other tidbits, which got them contented enough for us to scarf down a decent breakfast ourselves. (J. threatened to revolt when I asked him to pass the salt shaker so I could salt my watermelon. The very idea made him ill. I told him to go under the table with S.Hooligan if he didn’t like it. It was wonderful watermelon.)

As promised, we souvenir shop-hopped our way back to the hotel. I LOVE souvenir shops. I adore souvenirs, period. I lived for whatever useless little trinket anyone would bring back for me from anywhere when I was a kid. As a teenager I started compulsively buying souvenir spoons wherever I went, even if I hadn’t left town. I got past that phase. Now I keep on the lookout for silver charms to commemorate my travels. However, quality ones don’t turn up in the really touristy areas (I find the best ones at airport shops), so I amuse myself by buying tacky stuff for other people, especially the kids. There was so much garish, kitschy stuff, I could hardly contain myself: baskets and bins of shells and starfish, bizarre fluid-filled acrylic knick-knacks in which tiny plastic dolphins floated about, bizarre figures assembled of tiny shells, and anything sea-themed you could imagine.

I arrived at the hotel laden with a box of salt water taffy, a scotty-shaped coffee mug for my mother, starfish for the Hooligans, a pair of flip-flops so I wouldn’t ruin my sandals in the sand, various glass novelties as gifts for people back home. I’d already paid for my purchases at one store when I spotted a shark’s tooth necklace. J.Hooligan adores sharks (his mother was buying him a shark-patterned beach towel), so I grabbed a necklace for him. I offered to get one for S.Hooligan as well, but she’d spied a Dora brush and said she’d MUCH rather have that, so I had that in my sack as well. S. brushed and brushed her hair and swore the brush made her hair “longer.” J. put on the necklace immediately and looked like a genuine surfer dude. To my surprise, he wore the necklace constantly the rest of the trip.

In the afternoon, slathered with sunscreen, we made our way back down to the beach for a couple of hours. The waves were still pretty knockabout, although I found I could ride them out just fine once I got a little farther out from shore. (At 4’11”, I get in over my head pretty quickly.) I kept trying to guide J.Hooligan out there with me; but every time he made some progress, a wave would chase him back up to dry sand. After awhile I gave up and just enjoyed bobbing in the rolling water.

S.Hooligan again absorbed herself in the sand, both wet and dry, while Diamondqueen sat so the waves would wash up around her. I joined her off and on, and we both discovered something amazing about our bathing suits when we were back in the hotel room: The hems were crammed with sand. I was wondering why I’d never noticed the micro-beads in the hem of my skirt when I remembered my suit didn’t have a stiff, heavy hem when I bought it. I wound up snipping the hem open with my embroidery scissors so I wouldn’t be weighed down the next time I took a dip.

In addition to her hem, Diamondqueen’s suit in general gathered astonishing quantities of sand in all kinds of secret little places. When she was undressing in the bathroom, several cups worth of brown sand spilled on the floor. I went in to shower and discovered small dunes all along the baseboard. I tried to clean it up, but after that sand seemed to be everywhere. I had gritty sheets for the rest of our visit.


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