Tonight, I downloaded all of the photos from our trip to Nantucket and I had the difficult task of sorting through the nearly 1,000 pictures to select a few that most aptly tell the story of our week vacation in paradise. But then I decided that I couldn't possibly capture the whole story in one blog post, so this adventure will need to be broken in to installments.
Today's installment is about the day we took my 14-year-old nephew, Michael, fishing at Surf Side. Now what I might not have mentioned is that my nephew, who has earned more than 90 Merit Badges in Boy Scouts and is a Service Project away from becoming an Eagle Scout, has a passion for fishing. He took our kids fishing at a local lake before we left for Nantucket, just to whet everyone's appetite for what lay in store.
On the trip to Nantucket, Michael lugged along more fishing gear than I think he did clothes. He had expressed a dire interest in fishing at Surf Side Beach, but because that was an approximately 10-mile bike ride from our house, past the center of town, it was ruled out because the logistics of our family riding 10 miles in one direction and then, after a day of playing at the beach - riding 10 miles home again, seemed a bit ... how do you say? ... ambitious.
But last Monday night, we took the five children in to town for pizza, which we ate on top of cardboard boxes, perched on our laps, as we looked over the harbor and talked about the kind of boat we'd like to own one day. At the end of our pizza eating, it was dark and instead of riding our bikes the nearly seven miles back home, we decided to lock them up, take the shuttle back, and retrieve our bikes the next day. The next day, I told Michael, because we'd be more than half the way to Surf Side, maybe we could just ride the additional three miles - he could fish - and then we'd all ride the 10 miles home again.
My nephew was absolutely thrilled and told me I was the best Aunt in the world.
So Tuesday rolls around and we wake up and take the shuttle in to town. Michael jumps on his bike and takes off for the live bait store; we jump on our bikes and take off on the three mile ride to Surf Side Beach. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, everyone is happy. Michael catches up to us before we reach the beach and the seven of us ride the last 1/2 mile, together.
We no sooner get to the beach and a thick fog settles in. We also notice that the surf is huge, because Hurricane Bertha (or something...) is traveling up the eastern seaboard and kicking up the wave action. Within less than an hour, we cannot see more than 20 feet in front of us.
But despite that, the kids are having the absolute time of their lives. Michael is fishing with his live bait (eels, squid, octopus) and his little cousins are jumping around in the tide and building castles.
After an hour, Michael throws in the towel on fishing because he hasn't hooked anything. He instead jumps in the water and plays with his little cousins.
A few hours later - maybe three or four - Charlie and I decide it's time to go home. Remember, we still have a 10-mile bike ride in front of us and we want to be sure that the kids have the energy to get there without a melt down at or around Mile Zero Point Five.
It was at that point Michael gives me a very concerned look and says, "Aunt Jenny, I don't think I can ride my bike home."
Um, what? I asked.
Then I laughed because surely he was kidding.
He continued, "Well, you see. I don't know if you remember but a few years ago, when I visited you in California, I was playing in the waves and afterwards, I had some really serious chaffing. I'm afraid I can't ride my bike home now because I'm totally covered in salt and sand from the beach and the chaffing would be really bad. Like really, really, really bad."
He gave me a look with raised eye brows and a downturned chin to express just how bad the chaffing would be. Still thinking that he was kidding - just a little bit - I continued to chuckle, "Yes, but Michael. We have four children and our options for getting home NOT ON A BIKE are very limited. We don't have a car, and the shuttle bus - which runs every hour - only holds two bicycles. Seeing as there are seven of us, five of us would have to leave our bikes here, and we'd have to come back again tomorrow. I'd rather not lose half a day shuttling across the island to get bikes."
I continued, "Also, it'll be four dollars per person home - and four dollars a person back again tomorrow, and I'd rather not spend $40.00 shuttling when we're strong able people that can easily ride these bikes home. Am I Right or Am I RIGHT?!"
He shook his head and again said, "Seriously, Aunt Jenny, the chaffing would be AWFUL."
Realizing that my rationalization wasn't having the intended effect, I added, "Yes, but that's why there are SHOWERS at the top of the hill. We can all shower off the salt and sand and then ride home in salt and sand-free pleasure. By the way, I'd like to point out that if YOU ride the shuttle, our four kids will also want to ride the shuttle and because they will be riding their bikes home, it will be a meltdown of epic proportions. My ears will chafe."
I then added for final measure, "I'd also like to remind you that we came out here today, because you wanted to come to this beach, 10-miles from our cottage, so that you could fish. If you hadn't wanted to fish in this exact location, we would have gone to the beach a stone's throw from our house and would not now be discussing the challenges of chaffing."
My nephew looked at me solemnly and asked, "Are you trying to guilt trip me? Is this a guilt trip? If so - wow - you can do it even better than my Mom and I thought she was the best!" He paused for a moment and then said, "Fine. I'll ride my bike. Even though I'll be totally chaffed and unable to walk for the rest of the week. I can do it."
And my husband, who is a lot nicer than me, that had remained quiet all this time spoke up and said, "Michael, if you want to take the shuttle back - take the shuttle back. Screw chaffing! It's no problem, we'll be just fine. You take care of yourself!"
The words no sooner left my husband's mouth, that my nephew bolted like a flash of lightening to the shuttle buses where he threw his bike on the front and was gone in a blur. I'd turned my back for a moment to help the kids get their shoes on, and didn't even know that he'd left until I turned back around and asked, "Where's Michael? Where did he go?"
And so it is, we took our four very sad children who wanted to also ride the shuttle bus, up to the public showers to rinse off the salt and sand before we rode 10-miles home. The showers were hooked up to a garden hose - which means the only temperature was COLD. Our kids had so much sand in their bathing suits, the crotches came down to nearly their knees, so I brought them in to the bathroom one at a time and had them take off their suits.
Carolyn was the most covered in sand, and I wrapped her in a towel and after I washed all the sand from her suit, walked her to the outside public shower.
While Charlie and I held the towel around her for privacy, she turned on the water to full blast and did her best to scrub the sand off every inch of her body. We called the crazy moves that she was making under the frigidly cold water, The Naked Nantucket Boogie and we all laughed like a bunch of crazy mad sandy people that were stuck on a beach.
We then hopped on our bikes and our kids - the little troopers that they are (doesn't Elizabeth look thrilled?) - rode the 10 miles back to our cottage. Everything was fine and the whole ordeal was and always will be ... fantastically funny.
Michael is a really awesome kid and we were so lucky to have him with us on the trip. He's helpful, he's smart, and he's so kind with others.
But as I told my nephew, I'm going to remember this day forever and if he decides to one day get married, and invite me to his wedding, I promise that I will stand up and recount the story of the time our (almost) Eagle Scout left his four little cousins on a beach 10-miles from home, because he was afraid of chaffing.