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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Remembering an August Adventure to Ocean City

August 10, 2011

One of the great lines in movie history is typed out by actor Richard Dreyfuss while narrating the adventure story of four adolescents in the 1986 classic Stand By Me.

In the movie, Dreyfuss is writing a short story about the summer adventure – and he is one of the four boys in the narrative which takes place in the 1950s. He makes a brief appearance at the end of the movie and finishes the story, typing these words into his computer:

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12.

Does anyone?”

This reminds me of what an exciting time of the year it is for kids who are about to start their freshman year of college. Many embark on summer adventures with friends such as the one narrated by Dreyfuss.

For me, it was a summer road trip from Washington D.C. to Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 17.

I was soon headed off to the University of Miami in Florida. I had received a full basketball scholarship, and after visiting a bunch of schools in the spring and summer I decided on UM.  I was going to be accompanied by another area basketball star Bob Nylin, who played for a rival school.

While we competed against each other, we weren’t close friends heading into the summer, but we started to pal around after we signed our scholarship letters of intent. I was a shooting guard, and Bob at 6’8 was an inside man although he would play the forward position in college. We also decided to be roommates during our freshman year.

Sometime during August, we talked about spending a few days in Ocean City, some 150 miles away from the D.C. suburbs where we lived. Neither of us had access to a car, but we decided to make the trip anyway.

We were to stay in a docked boat which belonged to the parents of one of my friends. We had directions to the boat, with assurances that it would be available to us when we arrived.

So, we felt good about our chances for a successful trip, and ventured onto the Washington D.C. Capital Beltway, to begin the journey the only way we could, by hitchhiking rides from accommodating motorists.

We felt safe and many different people stopped to give us a lift as we worked our way across the Bay Bridge and toward the Maryland beach resort. For sure, we met interesting people, some bought us food, and others offered to go out of their way to get us further along the journey.

The trip seemed to last for days, and went on without a hitch, but in reality it took us 13 different rides and 5 1/2 hours to make it to Ocean City.

It was near midnight when we finally arrived at the beach, and we quickly found the docked boat where we were to spend the night. Much to our surprise however we found it occupied by an adult couple who we later learned were friends of the parents who owned the boat.

It was now well past midnight, and we were exhausted, had little money and no place to stay. We did the only thing we could do; we found a comfortable spot on the beach and went to sleep in the sand along the resort’s Boardwalk.

I can still recall waking up in the sand to the sound of surf and watching the morning sunrise.

We met up with friends, but then got separated as kids do, and made our way back home a few days later, both of us hitching a ride with our buddies this time.

A few weeks later we boarded a National Airlines flight, designation: Miami International Airport.

We had many great experiences as college roommates and teammates during our time at the University of Miami.

The adventure that stands out though is the one that occurred before we left for school: the August hitchhiking trip to Ocean City, and the excitement and the unknown prospect of doing it.