But wait, let me back up. One of the Wives had planned this trip a year ago. I've never planned that far ahead for anything. Not my wedding, not college, certainly not a vacation. So marking something on the calendar that far in advance...It was just too responsible of me, you know? I'm more of a last-minute kind of a girl.
BUT THEN. Hurricane Irene struck. And Hatteras Island, where we had rented that beach house a year in advance, was inaccessible.
No, really. Look.
(Photo from a Chain Email sent by My Father)
Thank goodness Jamie made us pay for renter's insurance. So Kurt and I, and the other 7 families, were able to get a reimbursement, and find another house that same week, in Duck- 57 miles away, but also on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Always get the insurance.
One morning, Kurt came running back from the beach. It was incredibly early, and I was still sleeping (we're talking 9, maybe 10am). In his hand was a large shell. And in that shell was a baby turtle.
"Do you think he is ok? I thought he might be a sea turtle. How can we tell? What should we do?"
He had been searching for shells in some seaweed along the shore, and he saw a really pretty one. But when he picked it up, he realized it was a tiny, tiny baby turtle. Not even 2 inches big. He filled a shell with salt water, stuck the little guy inside, and ran back up to the house.
"Google," I said. "Google will know what to do."
And I found this: Hurricane Irene Brought Me a Visitor. What kind of turtle is it? What do I do with it?
Turns out this little one is a Diamondback Terrapin hatchling. Not a sea turtle, but a semi-aquatic little guy who is found on Cape Hatteras (they are found all over the coast, but this particular kind is found there). Irene had taken him for a ride.
Funny, right? Without the hurricane, we might have found him anyway, only in his original home.
We called the number, and asked what we should do. When they determined he wasn't a sea turtle, they said "Oh. Then it really doesn't matter."
We loved our little guy. And he loved digging in the pillows, riding around in our hands, swimming in a pyrex bowl, and jumping off big cliffs- like the edge of the bed (we became very good at base-jumping-interventions).
The only thing he wouldn't do was eat.
In the end, we had to let him go. Because if we got all the way back to Pittsburgh, and he still wouldn't eat, it's not like we could say "Oh well, let's just take him back." (it was an 8-hour car ride)
It was really hard, though. We loved him a lot.
We did more research, and found out his ideal habitat- marshy, brackish water, with plenty of snails, worms, crabs, etc (he's a vicious little carnivore). He likes mud. And sunshine.
On the last day, we drove him back to where he had come from. We stopped and checked out lots of places, but none of them felt right.
And then we found it. A perfect, marshy embankment. With an adult terrapin swimming by.
We knew this was it.
So we knelt down, and stick him in the water. He swam back, and started digging happily in the mud.
He loved being all dirty.
We picked him back up before he could disappear, and said goodbye.
Then we set him down, and he started digging a little cave. In minutes, we couldn't see him anymore.
We sat there for a long time.
"I miss him."
"We did the right thing."
And then we cried.
His name was Higgins.