I’m sitting in the airport, waiting for the inbound AirTran plane to arrive so I can leave on time. I’m not sure what the time to turn a flight is with AirTran, but it used to be really fast with Southwest.

This is one of the first times I have flown for business since 9/11. What a total pain. While I realize that this is all in the name of safety, there is no doubt that the cost to fly has increased dramatically mostly due to the increased security. Removing the shoes is probably the biggest pain, and the fact that I had to check my luggage because I had liquids that couldn’t to into a carry 0n bag because of the size. So, I checked the bag through. I really hope that it makes it since I have everything there other than my laptop and items that I carry back and forth to work daily.

Of course, the flight is overbooked (are there any other kinds?), and they are looking for volunteers. If I didn’t have a meeting tonight, I’d take them up on it!

More from Atlanta.

We headed south to Ocracoke Island yesterday to visit with two families that are friends of ours. The word “friends” is an understatement – they are part of our extended family. We have five other couples that we have intertwined our families with – and spend a great bit of time with either as a whole or with the women, the men, or just the kids. The women are my daughter’s “other mothers” – met through girls scouts, school, and the neighborhood. Our lives have been part of each other’s lives ever since. One of the couples moved to Pennsylvania two years ago, but remain an integral part of our circle. The men all get together to fish once each year in the Chesapeake Bay; the women have an “off-site” get together, usually at the beach. The women and boys even took a road trip to PA for last New Years Eve since it was their PA friend’s birthday and a great excuse for the boys to visit their friend and missing comrade.

At dinner last evening, we were sitting on the porch of their Ocracoke rental. We were talking about being family – all of us together. It is a chosen family, rather than a birth family. None of us are close to all members of our birth families – we don’t even live close to many of them. Our group knows that these friends are the ones that we can call, without reservation, to help in any crisis. It’s a great support structure that we have built, and is one that will truly last a lifetime. In most cases, it took a while for everyone to gain the trust in each other, to understand how much they can count on each other. That trust is now in place and won’t easily be broken. These friends are the reason we won’t likely leave the area – they would be the one thing that we simply couldn’t replace.

The oppressive heat wave continues… time to spend on the beach or inside.

We rented the kayaks yesterday from Kitty Hawk Kites. The rental side of their business is apparently not big, but they are competitively priced and don’t nickel and dime you to death with charges for paddles, PFDs or back rests. We rented one shorter open, sit-on kayak and a longer, sit-in one. The girls and I took them onto the sound at a public access area to get a feel for how they worked (both the kayak and the girls). After about 30 minutes of using the kayaks, the girls were bored and just wanted to go swimming. They swam and I farted around with each of the kayaks for about 15 minutes before deciding that I needed to put a shirt on before I got any more burned. The girls are obviously having a great time together – Kara was a good addition to our trip.

Sue and the boys were successful in their half-day fishing trip. Our son caught the first fish for the boat and Sue caught two more. The friend caught tons of sharks, most biting through the lines just before being brought on board. A bit of sea sickness for our son, but he was a trouper like always.

Later in the afternoon, Sue and the boys took the kayaks into the sound from a private dock to which we apparently have access (it’s a resident/renter thing). They were out for a long time, including when Sue went way out / down the shoreline. Our son was very impressed that she was able to go that far and make it back. The water is about 2 – 3 feet deep until you go something like one-half mile out, so if you get stuck, you can just get out and walk back. The footing, however, is filled with oyster shells, so will cut your feet if you don’t have proper waterproof shoes on. Today, we’re heading back to Cape Hatteras to hit the beach. We’re going early because of the heat, and will head back in for a late lunch or a bit of air conditioned shopping.

Overlooking the sound in Avon, NC.

Here is a photo minus yours truly of our extended family on vacation this summer. Taken in Buxton, NC – right in front of the Cape Hatteras Light Station sign. The lighthouse was just behind them.

Avon, North Carolina

Today, we climbed what is inevitably the most famous lighthouse in the US – certainly the most recognizable. The Hatteras Light House is actually the tallest – 267 feet in height if I remember correctly, equivalent to a 12 story building. It was a long climb, but made easier by the strong breeze blowing through the open windows. I took a few pictures and hope to have some of them made into a vertical panorama. I was meticulous to take all of the pictures for each panorama with the same focus, shutter speed, white balance, etc. I set the white balance with my white balance Expo Filter which does a great job of managing the balance. I have looked at the photos on my low-res laptop, but want to probably take another set or two if time and weather allows just to be sure I have one to remember the vacation by.

It has been as hot as ever here thus far with little relief in sight. You know it’s a warm week when the weather forecast includes the words “near record heat all week.” The kids each have a friend with them – both very good friends from school and other social circles. Our son’s friend spends a great deal of time at our home so we know him very well. Our daughter’s friend we only really know from school (they play strings together), but is a really nice young lady who is finally coming out of her shell with us. We have some lively dinner conversations on a regular basis, so have included her and gotten a few laughs.

Today we found a protected beach, right by the Hatteras Light House. This includes a lifeguard, as well as parking and great sand. The water was warm (although not at first), and the waves were manageable. We left our dog here in the crate, so he was happy to see us after a couple of hours. We even saw our son get into the (ocean) water for the first time in years. One thing about Asperger’s is that the huge influx of unknowns that are present in the ocean can be somewhat overwhelming. Last time we were at the beach was before he was diagnosed, so I was far less accepting what I thought was an irrational fear of the ocean. This time, I just sat back and watched him take the whole situation in, and processed it in his own time. I must say, this works much better.

Tomorrow, his mom and friend are going fishing with him – a half day trip into the ocean. I hate to go on boats such as that one, and will need to stay behind with the girls in any case. We are renting kayaks, so will try to not drown for the entire day!

Last night, we had dinner with my brother-in-law (wife’s brother or B-I-L) and his wife. That is always an experience. My B-I-L is fine. He’s fairly laid back, although he’s retired and opinionated at times. I guess when you get to be his age, you can be. His wife, on the other hand, is oblivious to her surroundings. She apparently needs to talk non-stop. We vacationed with them last year and planned a good bit of time apart – there is only so much I can stand and stay relaxed on vacation. My relaxed state changes completely when she enters a room. Therefore, my understanding wife keeps us apart as often as possible during the few and far between vacations.

What I really just don’t understand is that my B-I-L and his wife really don’t seem to get along that well. Okay, I understand that… However, they are going away in a 5th-wheel trailer for several months, including a few months working in a western national park. I personally think that they will drive each other nuts when they are spending that much time in such close quarters. In their current home, they each have their own areas where they can separate from the other one. In a 5th-wheel, they cannot do the same. I believe that the individual spaces that they have carved out in the in their home has allowed each to keep their sanity. It will be interesting to see how this extended vacation works out for them. My B-I-L will be taking lots of nature photographs and documenting their travel. I’m not sure what wifey will be doing during that time in such close quarters.