So before I tell the story let me share some photos to set the mood:
You get the idea: when Columbus Day rolls around, more often than not the Dillows are thinking snow. Even when we know there will be no snow, sections of our brains have been wired to associate October with winter. This is the price one pays when living in the western U.S. for so many years: sometimes it's 75 degrees and golden on one day, and 24 degrees and blindingly white the next. Which is why we were so aghast when we arrived on the beaches of Dauphin Island this past weekend (we were in Mobile for gymnastics the day before) to find that actually, October means swimming weather in Alabama.
This is not the first time we've been burned (and not the sunburned kind) by packing incorrectly for the beach. This time, of course, we misjudged the other way around. We thought we would be walking on the beach, collecting some shells, breathing in some fresh ocean air...
We enjoyed ourselves very much as we sweltered, watching other (smarter) people enjoy themselves in the water. We watched fish jump, a paraglider do his thing, a stingray swim way too close to the shore for my taste, and inspected the marsh for marshy aquatic creatures. But we knew we could not let the opportunity to swim slip through our fingers.
So yes, it was us at the tourist trap beach shop on Sunday night in Orange Beach (it's a long story how we got from Dauphin Island to Orange Beach) buying swimsuits, a few towels, and some sunscreen. We didn't make much eye contact with people there buying t-shirts and keychains and whatnot, because who buys swimsuits at the tourist trap beach shop? We just hoped they noticed the Wyoming plates in the parking lot. Because to us, Columbus Day means snowmen, not sand castles.