I don’t have the bandwidth or time to offer as much as I’d like, but I can offer you this (on reflection, I wrote more than I expected when I started, lol):
Short Honeymoon on the Shore:
When my wife and I were married, we had booked a stay on Chincoteague Island. We were very broke and the short honeymoon was an afterthought at best after the cost of the wedding. I still remember the name of the unit: “The Lover’s Nest.” Yes, it was cornier than you’re imagining right now.
Anyway, we had three days there and then I had to be on a plane in Philly the following morning to go on a 12 week geology field camp that would take me hiking (and mapping, and drilling) across the west, most of it outside of cellphone range.
The best feature of the unit, by far, was the view. It faced west into the bay, and not east out across the Atlantic, but hell, it was still waterfront and it was still the ocean; we were happy to take it.
The bridge you see in the background is the roadbridge connecting the island to the mainland (hey, it was cheap for a reason, lol). There was a private dock attached that we later caught crab from (my wife enjoyed them immensely; I’m allergic) and we deeply enjoyed our sunsets from that dock. But… it was quiet. Very quiet. Chincoteague is a wild pony preserve and isn’t very built up. Even with summer tourism, there weren’t more than a few thousand people. We explored the island in a day. We then spent most of the second day, uh, inside, but by the end of the second night we were both getting bored, but neither one of us wanted to admit it. We were both thinking we’d upset the other as well as the fact that we’d already booked and paid for the unit for the duration.
Finally, as we lay listening to the surf and breathing in the salt air, I tenatively asked if maybe we could ditch the island and do something else entirely. My wife responded immediately with a loud and fervent “Thank f***ing God!!”
The next morning, we ate breakfast, jumped in the car and started driving before we had a plan, cheering as we crossed the roadbridge. We eventually settled on Ocean City, Maryland, and wandered into the first bar on the far end of the boardwalk.
Now, if you haven’t been to a proper East Coast boardwalk, something you need to understand is the name “boardwalk” is a bit of a misnomer. It brings up bucolic images of wooden walkways and expansive white beaches. In reality, the boardway is nothing short of nose to nose packed circus-carnival-party that runs continuously all day and most of the night from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are a bazillion businesses and even more people. Often the “boardwalk” isn’t even wooden, and you’re lucky if you can even spot some of the sand in between the sea of people, coolers, umbrellas, and beach towels.
As we sat there at about 11am enjoying our first beer of the day (is there anything more glorious than the first sip of an icecold beer on a hot day?) reading the hundreds of vanity license plates tacked over every available surface, my wife wondered aloud how many bars were on the Ocean City boardwalk. I said I wasn’t sure, but we could find out! We both laughed and as we finished our beers the bartender asked if we’d like another. I went to say yes, but my wife jumped in and said no thank you. I looked at her in confusion as I settled up with the bartender. She grabbed my hand and pulled me bodily from my seat.
Following her out into the crowd, I asked her over the din, “What are we doing?!”
“We have to find out how many bars there are, goof!”
And so it was that we made our way through every. single. bar. that day, stopping to have a single drink (well, sometimes two, but who’s counting) at each one. At around 11:30pm we made it to what my memory dubbed as “The Frog Bar.” To this day I’m not sure if I have the name to that bar remotely accurate, but when reminiscing, we both still call it that, so that’s what it’ll be. What made the bar significant was it was the last one before the public boardwalk ended in a series of private beachfront resorts. We closed out the bar that night, leaning on each other and giggling and snorting like errant schoolchildren. We found a very sketchy and rundown hotel and paid for a room that night and crashed for the night.
We woke the following morning with a massive hangover and a huge hassle of our own creation. Getting up far too early and both of us feeling fairly ill, unshowered and looking like hell, we walked the length of the boardwalk back to the car and then drove the 90 minutes back to our unit in Chincoteague, packed up all of our stuff (we hadn’t anticipated not coming back the previous night when we left) and then drove the 4 hours back to the Philadelphia airport. I nearly missed my flight. Getting on that flight was one of the more difficult things I had to do. I later found drink tokens from 3 different bars in my pockets when going through security.
I touched down in Salt Lake City late (our flight was delayed because POTUS was using the airport) and missed my connection to Boise. The hotels were full and I tried to sleep in the terminal, but security came by every 20 minutes to make sure that didn’t happen.
The next morning I had a short flight (and nap) to Boise and met the man who was to be my future Grad School adviser, although I didn’t know that at the time, having not showered or changed in over 48 hours at that point, certainly looking worse for the wear. The man, bless him, loaded my pack into his beaten up Suburu and drove me 2 and half hours directly out into the field, do not pass go, do not collect $200. That night I was pitching my bivouac in the Sawtooth range and then slept like the dead in nothing more than a sleeping bag on the ground. 12 weeks, 7 states, and nearly 50 lbs lighter, I met my wife at arrivals in PHL airport and we haven’t been apart for more than a day or two at a time since.
If anyone is curious, and I’m sure it’s changed since, but the answer at the time was 17 and I’ll never forget the day we spent together doing the math.