Polar Plunge

December 30 through January 7, 2016

Wilmington is a very attractive city with a beautiful historic district.  Reconnoitering the first day, we saw beautiful homes and buildings in the Historic District.

Nearby, Wrightsville Beach is a small seaside town with charming shops and restaurants; it has a really “beachy” feel with colorful houses, surfers and surf shops, a large marina and active sailing school.  I took a spin around the town ass its only 5 miles from the hotel in Wilmington and got a really good feel from the whole place.

Upon arrival in Wilmington, I heard on the news there was going to be a Polar Plunge into the Atlantic on New Years Day.  Yeh, let’s do that, I told myself.  Never having done such a thing, it appealed to me to run into the waves with a bunch of other crazies, all for a good cause.  The money raised goes to at risk youth. Totally the trip I am on.

The day before (New Year’s Eve) Zuma and I had spent my birthday walking and relaxing in Wilmington so I had plenty of energy after a low-key day.  Doug was back in Thomaston finalizing year-end business.

Waiting in the soft sand for the 11 a.m. call to get wet, the crowd was eager and pumped up by great music (Beach Boys, etc.) there were free drinks and snacks, provided by the associations organizing the event.  It was a feel good win-win event.

On the beach, I met a man about my age (Sam) who was on his own also; we were both newbies to such a sporting event (if one may generously label it that) and encouraged each other to go for it, so we ran in together.  Surprisingly, the water wasn’t very cold.  A few bold leaps into the sea and I saw it coming; a huge wave bowled most of us 250 (approximately) participants over and it felt terrific! A good mouthful of salt water is always invigorating and clears the palate of that nasty first coffee of the morning taste, haha!  It was a moment in time I will never forget and I wanted to go back in for a swim.  An excellent start to 2016!

Our plan was to spend another week in the area, walking and exploring.  I was very impressed that the city welcomed the eviction of Christmas trees from homes to line the dunes as protective barriers.  What a brilliant idea.  No waste and a natural “green” way to support the sand from being washed away in strong currents and winds.

I neglected to mention that we had a bit of an issue at the hotel. The first night I watched a person digging in the dumpster behind the hotel, nearby the designated doggie toilet area.  Initially unnerved, I asked the clerk at the desk to escort us to the area which he willingly did. The lighting was dim (and so was I); the hotel was undergoing renovations and he told me they sometimes have people out in the dumpsters picking for furniture, etc.  The next day I learned from a fellow hotel guest that there are no security cameras behind the hotel.  Then I felt more vulnerable.

We had rain for a couple of days and Zuma was wiggly and excited to get out and prance her 5 – 10 miles a day.  I was getting her things ready one afternoon when she bowled me over and I fell and hit my nose and face; the result was a black eye and very swollen nose.  Doug says it’s not broken but I sure as hell have a bump at the bridge and wearing glasses hurts.  It throbs all the time.

If this had happened to the dog, I would have rushed her to the vet but I toughed it up with ice packs on my nose and right eye and gobbled Advil.  The next day my eye was nearly swollen shut and I felt embarrassed to leave the hotel room, looking like a beaten wife (“I fell over the dog”), so I hunkered down for the next couple of days and only went out to walk Zuma with sunglasses on.
How. Low. Life.  But there was no other solution.  I thought I would just walk Zuma at night in the city.  However, during this time, I met a woman whose family live locally (and have for the past 27 years) and she told me that Wilmington has a high crime rate and advised me not to go into the city at night.  Great.

Within a few days, I was feeling much better and ready to get back on the road.  Then I heard on the news that there was a huge heroin bust (hooray) and 50 people from Wilmington were arrested and charged.  Then, within a day, 2 people were shot just blocks from our hotel and there was a robbery in a parking lot at a nearby hotel. Yikes.  Time to get out of here.  This is a nice area and well-lit but with security holes, I didn’t feel 100% safe.

I expected there would be times I would be fearful but this was out of my league.

Then I got a high fever and realized after a night with my head in the bathroom sink it was the ‘flu.  Man, was I sick for two days. The weather was rainy and it really was all I could do to get up to take Zuma outside.  Something happened to my laptop en route and the keyboard was sticking so I couldn’t write.  TV was my friend. Zuma snuggled beside me on the bed and tolerated the sudden exits I had to make to the bathroom to throw up.  (Sorry, ya’ll).  This went on for two solid days.

Doug called and said he wanted to come down and, although I felt we could continue on our own, I was very glad to have him by my side and he really wanted to be with us.

Doug arrived the next day and we stayed one more night to visit Wrightsville Beach and the area and then drove on to Savannah. Blanca is running really well.  She is a reliable vehicle and we laugh a lot when people drive by and give us the thumbs up sign for driving this 2001 VW van.  Gotta love it.

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