We just returned from what was going to be a 12-day vacation to the beach in South Carolina. We came home a day early, chased out by Hurricane Ian. We found out later, in Charleston, there was plenty of street flooding and some wind damage, but nothing catastrophic like there was in Florida.

     The way home for us is straight up I95. It’s one of the most heavily traveled roads in America, and we expected heavy traffic, especially since we thought we’d run into people fleeing Florida. In fact, the traffic wasn’t that bad — until we got to Washington, DC, where traffic is always bad. There we had to dodge the speeders and tailgaters who seemed more aggressive the farther north we went. (I’d vote for increasing funds for police to patrol our highways.)

     But despite this build-up, my accident was not on the highway.

     When we go to the beach we rent bicycles. The roads are straight and flat, and as long as you’re at least two or three blocks out of town, traffic is minimal. So it’s pleasant to ride along looking at the beach houses, the gardens, the quirky lawn displays, the intricately designed rock walls.

     I also like to go down to the beach at low tide and ride along the hard sand. The beaches aren’t too crowded — no worries about running into people, as long as you pay attention — and the bikes we rent have relatively thick tires, so it’s easy going. 

     I like to watch the waves come in, and at low tide I can ride around the seaward end of the rock breakwaters. Or at least I thought I could.

The Accident &Raquo; Img 1798%20(2)
The offending breakwater

     One day I took to the beach. The tide was going out. A few of the breakwaters were still being lapped by the waves, but I saw one that was dry, or almost dry. So I headed down to the water, rolled through two or three inches of water, then … bam! I was head over heels into the ocean!

     What I didn’t realize was that as the tide flows out it makes a depression at the end of the breakwater, creating a little sinkhole. Right there, the water was three feet deep.

     My bike was mostly underwater. I stood up and found myself waist deep. I had on a bicycle helmet — but I didn’t hit my head against the rocks anyway. I did jam my thigh into the bike as I fell. I saw my hat, which had been in the bike basket, floating in the undertow. I grabbed it.

     Several people came and asked if I was alright. I thanked them, saying the only thing hurt was my pride. Then …. wait! Where was my phone? I looked down. Was it churning in the sand three feet below me?

     I felt in my pocket. There it was! Luckily, I’d slipped the phone into the pocket of my shorts instead of throwing it into the basket. But it got pretty wet. Would it survive the mishap?

     After I righted the bike and collected myself, I continued on my ride — even riding down below a few of the other breakwaters. But then I thought I’d better cut things short, go home, and see about my cellphone.

     I got back to the beach house, went into the kitchen, and dried it off. Then I googled how to save your phone if it’s been dunked in salt water. I found several videos. Most of them advised taking apart the phone and cleaning specific elements. I wasn’t going to do that. One video suggested placing the phone in rice. The rice would draw out the water. But there was no rice at the beach house.

     So I just wiped off the phone. I tried it out, and it seemed to work. I took off the protective case and washed that in soap and water, then ran a damp cloth over the phone to try to wipe off any salt.

The Accident &Raquo; Img 1789%20(2)
The damage

     Today, almost a week later, my cellphone still works. Kudos to Apple … and to the protective case that seemingly prevented it from getting too wet. 

     So all that was wounded was my pride. Well, I did lose the bike lock that was in my basket and fell to the bottom of the ocean. The rental place charged me $27 for that. And I did suffer a nasty bruise on my leg. It looks pretty ugly. But really, it never hurt all that much.

     What’s the moral of my story? People … be careful out there. Watch where you’re going. Act your age. And don’t be stupid!

Tom Lashnits Writer, Blogger
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