After living in East TN my entire life & not really getting far from home, my desires for the bucket list were mostly specific destinations I had always wanted to visit. Here’s an example: Item #1 on the list was a place I really wanted to see! The Beach!
Not just any beach would do. It had to be Virginia Beach! Ah, the mystery of the ARE, the beautiful soft white sandy beaches, and the luxury of knowing someone living there & not having to pay for a hotel!! I was set.
Item #1 see the beach. Item #2walk on the beach. Items #3 and #4 were combined – to watch the sun rise & set at the beach. Item #67 to REALLY see the ocean, not just glance at it.
Last year in September 2010, was an adventure in the making!!
My lovely sister is in the Navy, stationed in Norfolk; staying in Virginia Beach with her husband & a good friend. She was pregnant, past her due date of August 20th, and hurricane Earl was headed straight toward that portion of the US east coast.
I swore a hurricane would not interfere with my trip to VA from TN. I received a lot of advice: “don’t go”, “postpone your trip”, “call it off completely”, & “be careful” from co-workers and family.
I packed the car and went anyway. Because of the potential dangers of the hurricane, I left the boys in TN with one of their older sisters. The trip was suppose to take 8.5 hours according to my GPS & Google maps. It took me 11.5 hours though. I took my video camera with me and chronicled the trip. I stopped every 70-100 miles or so to take a detour & check out some cool old townships along the way. I totally played the role of a tourist & loved it!!
Along the way, I received texts from my sister updating me on the weather, road, bridge, and tunnel conditions. Several times, the main underwater tunnels and bridges were closed to & from VA Beach. I didn’t worry though. I had faith that God would allow me to get there safely. I made it all the way & realized I could cross an item off my bucket list that the boys had added. #81 on the list was to eat lunch underwater. I was eating McDonalds as I drove through the underwater tunnel from Portsmouth to Norfolk!! Ha! I never really thought that item was possible, until I did it 🙂
With hurricane Earl reduced to just a storm, I had made it to VA Beach & was hugging my beautiful sister 🙂 I only had 4 days for this trip & had used 1 day up driving, so we had to make the most of our time together. On day 2, she took me to the Navel base at Norfolk. I got to see two super cool ships (69 & 77) and several marine & naval aircraft, and trucks. I crossed item #55 off my bucket list: tour a naval base!
On day 3, we went to Trashmont and I guess I wore her out walking around. The hospital called and said they were ready for her to come in so they could force her labor to begin.
Poor thing, she was hooked up to machines the rest of that day & on a pit drip. After several hours of this labor getting nowhere, I called her & her husband’s friend to come get me (needed his naval ID to get off the base) and take me to see the beach. My sister had her husband with her & I was pacing and making her nervous anyway.
It’s hard not to cry when someone you love has an oxygen mask on, several IVs hooked to them, and machines beeping alarms every few minutes.
We left the base hospital as the American flag was being taken down. I watched the ceremony. That was cool! It was getting late and the sun was almost done setting. My sister’s friend drove & took me all around the infamous Virginia Beach area. The lights, sounds, & night life were amazing. We made it to the beach around 1:30am.
We got the call after 1am telling us my sister had a C-section and delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy. We were already at the beach though, so we finished our goal…mark the beach off my bucket list 🙂 (My sister wasn’t conscience anyway. She was in recovery where I could not be.)
We parked, searched everywhere for some change to feed a meter. Oops, no change!! So, we swiped a credit card on the meter & headed to the beach. We had just bought 2 hours! It was amazing, even after 1am! The boardwalk was lit & the sand sparkled under the lights. I removed my shoes and walked a few feet out, stopped & squatted down to see the beach. I saw and touched the soft sand, watched the almost see-through tiny sand crabs walking sideways, & took a deep breath. My sister’s friend was kind & patient as I admired God’s creations and marvelled.
We moved on toward the ocean and I saw several naval ships out to sea following hurricane procedures. Earl had left behind some beautiful waves. The ocean rushed toward us and then quickly went back to sea. We walked almost the entire length of the beach and I asked many questions about living in Virginia Beach. In turn, I listened to many stories of how it is easy to overlook this beauty in everyday life.
It was great. I smelled the ocean and even though it was very late, I saw the beach. I touched it, felt it, took it all in and marked several items off my bucket list. I made it back to the hospital by 3am on Labor Day 2010. Yes, my nephew was born on Labor day.
I tried to sleep, but my sister was wide awake, so we talked, played with the baby, took pictures and enjoyed the moment. Around 5:30am, I was too tired to hold my eyes open. I slept till 8:30am, got up, packed my stuff, kissed my sissy & new nephew and drove back home to TN.