“No one ever finds life worth living—one has to make it worth living.” ~~Author Unknown
Pier at Surf City, NC – July 4, 2012
Life has dealt MoonPie and I many challenges since the last time I blogged. The biggest two were losing my Dad in December and then losing our furbaby, Woof, two days later. I followed up the “losing streak” by bidding farewell to my gallbladder in February. Getting out with our cameras had been placed at the very end of our objectives. Life was just a blur of loss and health issues. After many months of holding down jobs by day and retreating to our den to lick our wounds at night, MoonPie and I realized how much we missed getting on the road with an emphasis on the trip rather than a destination. So on July 4th with no set time schedule or agenda we headed in the general direction of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Per MoonPie’s request I rummaged into the back of my coat closet, dusted off my “real” camera, and off we went.
The most daring objective we set was to eat every meal at locally-owned restaurants instead of the usual chain places listed on our Find Me Gluten-Free apps. That may sound like a little thing to those who can eat gluten, but trust me when I say it was a HUGE leap for me. One small cross-contaminated bite would have sent us immediately back home for some more “wound licking”. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time..kind of like riding the roller coaster at New York New York in Las Vegas. It was also the first trip we’ve taken since finding out I am gluten-intolerant where I didn’t meticulously plan out every place to eat prior to leaving.
Our first stop was for lunch in Wilmington, NC. I remembered reading a good review on the K-38 Baja Grill on Oleander Drive, Wilmington, NC, so after passing it we turned the truck around decided to give it a try. It was our first and ultimately best meal of the entire trip. Wow! Not only was it the only Mexican food that I’ve ever eaten that I could eat every day, but it was also the best gluten-free service I’ve ever had. They don’t have a gluten-free menu, but they know their ingredients which are all fresh and handed me a printed list of foods that don’t contain gluten. The best discovery was that they also know how to avoid cross-contamination. I asked the usual questions and to my surprise our waitress followed up with the right questions and said she needed to to talk to the chef. The chef came over to ask a few more questions. I knew we were truly in good hands when our waitress brought out a basket of corn tortilla chips and then held them up and asked if both of us were gluten-free. MoonPie said he could eat anything (I won’t go there..) and she set them on the other side of the table next to him, looked at me sadly, and said “You can’t have these, but you can have the salsa.” I didn’t tell her that I couldn’t taste the salsa because MoonPie had already dipped a chip in it or that I wasn’t inclined to eat salsa with my fingers. Then almost on cue the chef arrived at the table with a second bowl of salsa for me and a bowl of celery sticks to scoop it up. Be still my gluten-free heart!
I had a veggie taco that was prepared using a fresh homemade soft corn tortilla, salsa fresca, red pepper, avocado, roasted corn, spinach, mushrooms, and black bean puree with a side of Mexican rice. My only regret was that I only got one of them. Having lived much of his life in San Diego I’ve found that MoonPie is the harshest Mexican food critic on the planet. He pronounced his meal as being as good, if not better, than any Mexican food that he’s ever eaten in San Diego. Now that is an endorsement!! This is not a food blog (evident in that I didn’t even think to take a picture of the food) so I don’t usually rave about what I have eaten, but the food and concerned service were so good that we are considering planning another trip up the East Coast via Wilmington just to have another meal there. It set the tone for the entire vacation.
On our odyssey we saw interesting tattoos, posed with some really big fish, bought a sled which is always useful in South Carolina, and finally completed our quest to see the Cape Hatteras Light House. We also watched an awesome Fourth of July Fireworks display in New Bern, NC, on the night of the 4th. (If you watch it, please excuse MoonPie’s “Holy Shit!” comment at the end. I think it is mostly drowned out by the little boy next to us who kept yelling “AWESOME!!!”.
This past year has taught me that good health is relative thing. What is not so great today may seem like the best of times later in life. Sometimes you just have to get out, take risks, and grab life while you can. If you wait for your life circumstances or your health or your finances or whatever is holding you back to improve before you get out and live, you just may find yourself staying home and licking your wounds forever. We still have a few holes left in our lives from those we lost. I also have a few holes in my abdomen from losing an organ. But the holes heal, leave a scar, and life goes on. How you live that life moving forward is up to you.
We miss you Daddy..
6.7.27 – 12.13.11
We miss you, too, Woof…
7.27.98 – 12.15.11
…but MoonPie and I are moving on with life. Until next time…