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Buice column: Feeling like summer at the beach

Instead of Christmas in July, this was summer in late October.

Our annual beach trip never happened in the summer of 2020, at least according to the traditional June to August months of the calendar, but a visit to the coast in the middle of fall proved to be a perfect escape.

Actually, fall is always my favorite time to go to the beach with those refreshingly cooler temperatures, so I wasn’t about to complain when the thermometer consistency reached highs around 80 degrees — even with some humidity. Still, it didn’t feel anything like July.

There are few things I enjoy more than watching the sun rise over the ocean from the screened-in porch at the condo, taking long walks on the beach, and sitting in a chair under an umbrella on the soft, white sand watching the people and looking out over the shimmering body of water.

Of course, there’s also the food. We usually stay in the Ocean Drive area in North Myrtle Beach, which means breakfast at the Golden Griddle — famous for its pancakes — and lunch or dinner at Hoskins, a local landmark that has been around since 1948 with lines frequently out on the sidewalk awaiting its flounder, fried chicken and country vegetables.

Then there’s just a short drive to Calabash and all the wonderful seafood places, including the Seafood Hut (my personal favorite), and other top picks such as the classy Boundary House (try the prime rib and crème brulee cheesecake) and a place called Gravy, which has a variety of comfort food choices.

We also enjoyed a trip down U.S. 17 to Barefoot Landing and then on the Tanger Outlets to buy a few things we probably didn’t need.

And we welcomed watching TV and getting a break from the relentless Cal Cunningham/Thom Tillis for U.S. Senate seats in N.C. commercials, which were replaced by a barrage of Lindsey Graham/Jaime Harrison for U.S. Senate seats in S.C. commercials.

I happened to see a report on CNBC the other day that North Carolina was No. 1 in the nation for being the most expensive race with $285 million being spent while South Carolina ranked No. 3 with a price tag $210 million. I believe it … on both counts.

But back to the beach… We couldn’t believe the crowd on our last day, a gorgeous Saturday, when it seemed like every space on the sand — with the proper social distancing — was occupied.

I never dreamed I would think about anything like that on the beach, of all places. However, this is 2020. We’ve never seen a year like it, and I’m sure most of us agree that we hope there’s never another one like it again.

• • • • •

Hope you weathered the most recent storm without too many problems.

It’s not too often we have a hurricane in late October heading in our direction from the Gulf Coast that maintains enough of a forward speed that it remains a tropical storm upon its arrival this far inland.

I couldn’t believe a couple of gusts I saw last Thursday morning when the remnants of Hurricane Zeta came through — bringing those damaging winds, heavy rain and flooding, which resulted in downed trees and widespread power outages.

Although our lights flickered, we were fortunate to not lose our power like so many did. We were without cable/internet for about 36 hours, but that’s nothing like losing power.

Apparently, Forsyth County was one of the hardest hit areas in the state, where more than 400,000 people were without power after the storm roared through here on the quick trip up the East Coast.

I couldn’t help but think back to the Aug. 6 storm when the Clemmons area was swamped with six inches of rain over a three-hour period — a historical event. Yes, it’s 2020.

• • • • •

If you’re a Wake Forest football fan, no doubt you remember the storybook 2006 season when the Deacons surprised everyone by winning the ACC championship and going to the Orange Bowl.

But did you know this is the year of the 50th anniversary of the school’s only other ACC championship in 1970? It was one for the ages.

I was a teenager then and was there in what was then called Groves Stadium (now Truist Field) to see the Deacons, a lovable loser for many years back then, drive the length of the field in the final three minutes to score the winning touchdown in a stunning 14-13 victory over North Carolina.

Quarterback Larry Russell, who was the holder for the deciding extra point, was so excited after the successful kick that he ran over and picked up the referee — and started throwing him up and down in the air during the wild celebration.

Wake also beat N.C. State in another dramatic last-minute victory at home en route to win its last six ACC games to claim its first — and only other — league title.

By the way, Larry Hopkins, a star running back who scored the winning TD against the Tar Heels and was a first-team All-ACC selection that year, lives in Bermuda Run and has served the local community as a physician since the early 1980s and is still delivering babies. By the way, that long list apparently includes Chris Paul.

There was supposed to be a special reunion of the 1970 team during the weekend of the Villanova game on Sept. 19. But that game was canceled, and the schedule got shuffled because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — forcing the 50th anniversary gathering to be sidelined, too.

2020.