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Wednesday, 15 August 2007 00:00

Hot stuff

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An unplanned trip to Louisiana the first weekend in August sent us to the land of the heat-index factor. Of course, Louisiana in August is supposed to be hot and we weren’t disappointed with temperatures climbing to the high 90s every afternoon.

We returned home from Louisiana just in time to unpack, wash clothes, pack, vacuum cheerios and assorted baby and toddler crumbs out of the truck, load up and head to New Jersey for a planned visit. We had plans to hug the eastern seaboard, allowing the cool ocean breeze to provide respite from the heat. It was a good plan but there was one problem — the hot air that had smothered Louisiana and the Deep South accompanied us up the coast. Heading across Virginia to the Eastern Shore we watched in dread as the outside temperature display danced around the 100-degree mark. A walk out to the end of one of the fishing piers along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnels was more like the Bataan Death March than a walk in the cool ocean breeze. An 8 p.m. dip in the pool at our Chincoteague Island motel was like a tepid bath.

The next morning a scheduled 10:30 a.m. boat ride around Assateague Island turned out to be another test of mettle. The famed wild ponies appeared to be following the Zen mantra of stillness overcoming heat as they stood nearly motionless in the marsh, tails occasionally flagging at flies and mosquitoes. A few cattle egrets stood huddled around their legs. The boat never picked up enough speed to move the heavy 95-degree air that stuck to us like a wet blanket. Even Izzy, my 5-year-old, who would rather be almost anywhere other than strapped into her car seat, didn’t complain when we loaded up for the drive to the Lewes–Cape May ferry.

On the way to the ferry, an antique store with mojo too strong to be ignored, stopped the truck and lured my wife inside. My youngest, Maddy, was asleep in her car seat so I heroically volunteered to stay in the vehicle with the air conditioner running to keep an eye on her. While we were sitting there, still, with the sun beating down on the windshield where the sensor for the outside thermometer is, the display climbed to 123 degrees — a reminder why one should never leave children or animals unattended in a vehicle in the summer.

We arrived at the ferry around 3:30 p.m. and finally — a break.

Clouds came in off the Delaware Bay and dusted us with a cooling shower. The ferry ride was a delight for all of us.

That cool ocean breeze appeared. The kids and I roamed the decks of the ferry looking for dolphins and other critters. We got pretty good looks at a few pods of dolphins and great black backed gulls and laughing gulls soared alongside the boat.

And the cool spell stuck with us. Izzy, Maddy and I stuck away for a quick trip to the beach on Saturday morning. I’m sure the sun worshippers were angry but we reveled in the 60-degree temperatures and cloud cover as we wandered the beach looking for seashells and other treasures.

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