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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Unforgettable Adventure to Ocean City

July 22, 2013

One of the great lines in movie history is typed out by actor Richard Dreyfuss at the conclusion of his narration in the 1986 classic adventure story Stand By Me.

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

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

Does anyone?”

Summer is a great time of the year for kids and adventures are a big part of the excitement. One such experience for me took place during a summer road trip from Washington D.C. to Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 17.

In a few weeks, I would be headed off to the University of Miami (Fla) on a full basketball scholarship. After visiting a few schools I'd decided on UM. My freshman roommate was going to be another local area basketball star named Bob Nylin who also choose Miami.

We competed against each other in high school but weren’t close friends yet. However, we started to hang out together that summer. I was a shooting guard and Bob at 6’8 was an inside man although he played forward position in college.

Before fall term started, we decided to spend a weekend in Ocean City, Maryland 150 miles away from the D.C. suburbs where we lived. Each of us had friends we were to meet there, but neither of us had access to a car, so we decided to make the trip by hitchhiking.

We were to stay the first night inside a boat which was docked and belonged to the parents of a friend of mine. We had directions, with assurances that the boat would be vacant and available to us.

It was rush hour on a Friday and we ventured onto the Washington D.C. Capital Beltway, to begin the journey the only way we could, "thumbing" for rides from motorists. It wasn't unusual in those days and it wasn't illegal either. We began the trip standing along the Capital Beltway with our thumbs out looking for rides.

Many people stopped to give us a lift as we worked our way across the Bay Bridge and toward the Maryland resort. We met interesting people, some bought us food, and others went out of their way to get us further along the journey.

The trip seemed to last for days, and went without a hitch. In all, it took us 13 different rides and 5 1/2 hours to make it to Ocean City. Not too bad for a trip that would normally take 3 1/2 hours non-stop.

It was near midnight when we arrived, and found the boat where we were to spend the night. However the boat was being occupied by an adult couple who had permission from my friends' parents to be there, as we did not.

We were exhausted and had little money and no place to stay. We did the only thing we could; we found a comfortable spot on the beach and went to sleep in the sand along the resort’s Boardwalk near where we thought our friends were staying.

We woke up in the sand to the sound of surf and the sight of a morning sunrise over the ocean.

Hungry and dirty we each looked to meet-up with our friends. We separated and made our way back home a few days later. I do not remember much about the weekend, but I recall the adventure of getting there.

A few weeks later, we boarded a National Airlines flight, designation: Miami International Airport. We would later have many great experiences as teammates and roommates at the University of Miami.

But the one adventure that stands out is the August hitchhiking trip to Ocean City; the excitement of how we got there, and what happened once we did.

The experience of traveling and the unknown made it unforgettable.