Ocean City, Maryland Chronicle, Day 1: July 4, 2014

Miles across the New Jersey Turnpike bring us to the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the rural state highways of America’s first state. We wonder if the Tom-Tom has it right. Mira even says, with excitement, “I see ocean!”

Only what she sees isn’t the ocean. It’s an aqua-green roof on one of many farmhouses.

Independence Day
a Yukon eclipses
Our lagoon view

We finally see the canal that gives us hope. Crab houses bustle with tourists, testifying that we’re close. One turn, and we’re on coastal highway one. We soon cross into Maryland!

Ocean-view hotels twenty stories high flank us on our left. Strip-malls and restaurants pinch us on our right. Signs reading Higgins Crab house, Blue Ox Tavern, and Grotto’s Pizza fly by, along with the more familiar names of Dairy Queen and Duncan Donuts. All opportunities for us to part with our money.

crab aroma
Hurricane Arthur’s last clouds
pass away

Erroneous directions. A small check-in controversy. We survive them to settle into our one-bedroom condo. A white galley kitchen with a low breakfast bar opens to a living room, a quasi-open concept. The bedroom has a double-door entrance and a ceiling fan. A bathroom connects to the kitchen and the bedroom. Not Smuggs. But more than comfortable for a beach vacation.

clear sky
so many guests inside
the indoor pool

We take a self-guided walking tour of the surrounding restaurants, ending up at my first choice, The Crabcake Factory on the corner of 120th and Coastal Highway. It’s so close to our condo that it’s on our way to the beach.

The flavor of my crab cake overwhelms me with its vibrant and luscious flavor. Buttery-rich, with that perfect Maryland crab texture.

The only spoiler to the evening was our older, white waitress’ treatment of the black couple from Philadelphia seated next to us. When he left his credit card out, she asked to see his identification.

crowded house
still room for
Jim Crow

We step onto the boardwalk at 26th street—a block from its northernmost end. It’s quiet. Ocean-view condos and mom-and-pop hotels line the boardwalk here. High tide, powered by Arthur’s passage, surges high and far up the beach.

wind and water
the rippling light
of sunset

The first sign of commerce: The stowaway ice cream shop. We buy the summer-mandatory cones. Further ahead, more tourists window-shop the ever-growing number of Neon-signed souvenir shops. Pizzerias, bar-restaurants, tattoo/piercing parlors, sunglass huts, fry joints, and commercial hotels like Marriot, Holiday and Comfort Inn join the fray. Tram cars filled with tourist maneuver through the thickening throngs. By the time we reach the Jolly Rogers at the Pier, Mira can’t breathe. She’s too drained. We retreat up the boardwalk in a tram headed for 27th street.

Independence night
launching from the beach
fireworks

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Frank J. Tassone

Frank J. Tassone lives in New York City's "back yard" with his wife and son. He fell in love with writing after he wrote his first short story at age 12 and his first poem in high school. He began writing haiku and haibun seriously in the 2000s. His haikai poetry has appeared in Failed Haiku, Cattails, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, Contemporary Haibun, The Haiku Foundation and Haiku Society of America member anthologies. He is a contributing poet for the online literary journal Image Curve, and a performance poet with Rockland Poets. When he's not writing, Frank works as a special education high school teacher in the Bronx. When he's not working or writing, he enjoys time with his family, meditation, hiking, practicing tai chi and geeking out to Star Wars, Marvel Cinema and any other Sci-Fi/Fantasy film and TV worth seeing.

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