Last One…

When I left for the Outer Banks, I was sitting pretty at 183 pounds. It’s still entirely too fat, but the gym and jogging is certainly helping. I jogged every morning in OBX, but the amount of ridiculously fantastic food was too much to bear.

This morning the scale said 186 pounds, but I’m thinking I’m heavier than that right now.

So why the round face? Well, we can thank Capt’n Frank’s Hot Dogs to start. After a round of miniature golf, we decided to do lunch. Mrs. Earp saw this establishment (at the right) and thought it was a good choice. Boy, was she right! The hot dogs were amazing, the soft drink refills were free, and the upstairs deck had a nice breeze and great views. I ordered a Mad Dog, which was a hot dog with chili and hot peppers. My god, it was phenomenal.

I did notice, however, many of the eateries in Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills had some fairly odd names. To wit…

The story goes like this. The diner is only open for breakfast and lunch, and it’s usually packed. However, the locals would come in and sit drinking coffee for hours, clogging up the tables. The owner, Bob, finally had enough, and apparently told people to eat and get the hell out. Pretty funny.

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More Vacation Tales

Our other big adventure – besides miniature golf; I didn’t win any of the three games we played – was a trip to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head.

The tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast is a premier location for kites, sightseeing and sunsets, with a view arcing from the ocean to Roanoke Sound. A visitor center with museum and 360-foot boardwalk with exhibits explain the dune’s ecology and are a gradual entry to the massive dune field.

The dunes are massive, as you can see above, and what the site doesn’t tell you is visitors can surf the dunes. Take Kyle, for example…

Kyle and Erik had an easier time hitting the slopes, but they were not fond of the return climb. I pulled Kevin and Julia down the dunes by dragging the board’s tether, but after five or six runs, my knee was completely shot. We wanted to stay and watch the sunset, but naturally, a huge storm came in and ruined the opportunity.

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Well, We’re Back From Vacation

It’s a rare occurrence when I return from vacation feeling truly rested and not the least bit annoyed about returning to work. A lot of that may have to due to the fact the Outer Banks is freakin’ epic! Most of today will be posts from vacation, so if that’s not your thing, You can skip past them.

The first big thing we experienced was the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina – the coolest town name evah.

(Oh, click the photos to embigggen.)

Most national parks bore kids to tears, but this was different. The park is not overly large, but it has a lot of history, and some great stories about Orville and Wilbur Wright and the men who helped them fly. The memorial (above) is at the top of the sand dune hill where the brothers launched their planes. Climbing to the top of the hill on the paved walkway was difficult enough in the heat – it became very steep the closer you came to the memorial – so I cannot imagine the men dragging the plane up and down the sand dune time after time.

The view from the top is impressive, however…

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Get Out

So after work on Monday, I made the trip south to our beach vacation. I wanted to flee the city by 4pm, but there were a few snags. I hadn’t packed everything before work, the missus kept sending me updates for things she forgot, oh, and Kevin downloading something which crippled our computer with more viruses than Kim Kardashian.

I finally headed out at 5pm, got to the end of the street, then turned around because I was worried the doors weren’t locked. They were, of course, because the trip wasn’t long enough already.

Now I’m on the road, headed south with some Diet Mountain Dew, a few snacks, and headphones to listen to podcasts when I get out of radio range. Depending upon the city and/or state, I was hitting between 55 mph and 80 mph, so I figured I’d be at our destination by 11:30pm.

Yeah, try 12:45am. Traffic was awful, deer were plentiful, construction was sporadic, and my bladder is smaller than when I was young…

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Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be

Yeah, that’s great advice, Mr. Shakespeare, but some of us have a hundred kids and tuition payments to make.

Yesterday, the missus and I applied for a loan so we could help defray the costs of my oldest son’s college career. While I was semi-aware college is expensive – I’m a dullard when it comes to finances – I assumed we were good to go. Sadly, that’s not the case. We’re basically a one-income household – although Mrs. Earp does get paid for her job – but with three kids in Catholic school and one headed to college, the bills pile up quickly.

The worst part is the department has been cutting court overtime for all employees, and I haven’t seen the inside of a courtroom in six months – well, except as a defendant; lousy peeping tom laws. My base salary is pretty good, but the overtime was more of a benefit.

The loan should go through without a catch, since our credit is good, but I hate borrowing money – from anyone, for anything. Which gets to my point.

After putting things off, well, forever, I’m going to try real writing again.* I don’t have the audience I had a few years ago, but if I can pump out a few books, it may help defray tuition costs. It may interfere with blogging, but I think I can juggle both.

If not, I’ll just rob a store in my division. I heard the detectives there are morons.

*It’s also possible I write for a week and stop.

The Bird Is The Word

Our family is in the midst of The Summer of Kyle, where my oldest is trying to cram as many events as he can before he races off to college. Last month we took in two Philadelphia Union soccer games – the only Philly team we actually like – he’s been to a Phillies game with his friends, and Friday we spent the day watching the Baltimore Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The original plan was to take Kyle, three of his friends, and Erik. At the last minute, Erik was invited to a birthday party, so he chose to do that. Kevin, ever the trooper, decided to take Erik’s seat and we saddled up for the two and a half hour drive*.

*It actually took a little over three hours, because PA and Delaware traffic sucks.

I dropped off Kyle and his friends in front of the stadium – which is still the best stadium in the league, IMO – while Kevin and I found parking. As we were walking to the stadium, Kyle sent a text saying, “These seats are insane!” He wasn’t wrong, as you can see below. (Click the photo to embigggen.)

We were in Section 86, Row 2, which is in left-center field.

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The Graduate

My oldest son has graduated from high school.

Kyle (at left, click the photo to embiggen) celebrated his high school graduation ceremony yesterday, one day after his baccalaureate mass. After four academically successful years at Father Judge High School – Kyle should wind up with a cumulative GPA of about 3.3 – he is excited and relieved to enter the next phase of his life.

The graduation ceremony, however, was not his favorite moment.

The school tinkered with many things – the venue, the seating arrangements, ticket allowances, many times in the last few months. They finally settled on having the ceremony in the gymnasium instead of on the soccer field, allowed only four tickets to every family, and had the students sit in the bleachers with the audience on the floor.

Unfortunately, it was 85 degrees in Philadelphia yesterday, and the gym is not air conditioned. The folding chairs were small and lined against each other, so the chunky woman next me kept warming my leg with her cellulite. Suffice to say, there wasn’t a dry eye shirt in the house.

Other than the sweltering heat, the graduation went fairly well. Sure, there were a few white trash families who screamed when their son’s name was called – immediately after the administration politely asked if everyone could hold their applause – and the event went about a half hour too long, but it was an otherwise nice day.

Oh, while mentioning scholarships and colleges the graduates will be attending in the fall, the University of Dallas got a shout-out, which made Kyle smile.

Kyle is spending today recovering before heading to yet another graduation party. Tomorrow starts Senior Week at the Jersey Shore, and in 77 days, he’ll be in Dallas, setting up his dorm.

Congratulations, Kyle. We’re very proud of you.

Senior Prom 2019

As Kyle closes the book on high school, he had one more social event to take in before he heads southwest: the senior prom. The prom was held at The Water Works, which is on the banks of the Schuylkill River near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

As with the freshman dance and the junior prom, Kyle asked a friend to go with him. We’ll call her “J,” because she’s quiet and reserved. Kyle and J met each other in grade school and remained friends afterward.

J has been to our house often, usually while Kyle’s male friends are over, when she needs to “get away” from her girlfriends. So, she’ll hang out, play air hockey – usually besting Kyle – and watch TV. She is arguably the nicest girl you would ever want to meet. Good kid, good family…

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Committed!

Today is the annual Father Judge High School Student-Athlete Signing Day. It is a chance to recognize those student-athletes who have committed to play a sport in college. Kyle, obviously, will be joining the University of Dallas lacrosse team in the fall.

Of course, there is always a catch. Kyle’s lacrosse “coach” – I place that in parentheses because he is literally the worst coach I have ever seen – received the notification for the event a few weeks ago, and decided to send it to the lacrosse players Sunday afternoon. So anyone who wanted to rush to the school – if it was local – for a t-shirt or hat was out of luck. And while Division I programs usually make a production out of this day, smaller schools don’t have the resources for that.

Mrs. Earp sent an email to UD’s athletic director – a fantastic person, by the way – asking if they had any letters of intent which Kyle could sign. The AD responded immediately and we had a copy printed in a half hour. (It’s amazing what a school can do when they actually care.)…

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Flashdance

After six months of hard work, Julia’s dance recital debuted Friday evening.

As in previous years, Julia’s class performed a dual program of ballet and jazz routines. Thankfully, there were no belly shirts this year, and the ballet ensemble was acceptable to dear old dad. Julia performed brilliantly, and I think her teacher knew that in advance, as Julia was in the front of the group. She never looked offstage for a cue, and danced divinely.

The jazz/modern dance portions highlighted previous decades. While Julia didn’t get the 80’s – the greatest decade of music in planetary history – she was assigned the 90’s, with a twist. While they danced to a medley of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and MC Hammer, they also tossed in Aretha Franklin’s Respect.

As you can see below, Julia took her costume from the Kurt Cobain collection.

Again, Julia performed very well, albeit with an admitted mistake, that thankfully no one noticed. She had a lot of fun with her dance friends, earned a nice (pink) trophy, and received flowers from her grandmother. It was a terrific evening.

P.S. – The only real downside of the night was at the beginning. Julia and Mrs. Earp were already at the high school, and as the kids and I arrived, the terrible thunderstorms we were expecting hit us hard. The second we stepped out of the car, the skies opened up, the wind was pushing us back, and we were struck in the face with sideways rain and hail. By time we entered the auditorium, every one of us were soaked to the bone. Not the most comfortable way to spend a two-hour dance recital.