"Yeah," I said, wondering what we were going to do with ourselves over the next several days. "It's great."

I felt like I was in some unwritten book: When Bad Weather Happens to Good Travelers.

Suddenly something inside me, something very crazy, I'll admit, took possession of me.

"Jessica," I called. "C'mon. Let's go to the beach."

"But there's lightning," she responded. "Do you remember what you told him about mini-golf?"

"Yeah, but this is the beach. The beach is different. C'mon."

"Yeah, Mom, c'mon."

We threw on our jackets and zipped them up tight.

Isn't it great to be at the beach?

Some beaches are cold and rainy by design. People don't go to those beaches to swim or sunbathe. They go to them to stroll in sweaters and picture themselves romantically, like couples in TV commercials overcoming the heartbreak of hair loss.

But this wasn't one of those beaches. This was the beach at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one of your standard-issue warm-weather beaches. At such a beach, you have certain expectations. Among them, getting a tan rather than, say, frostbite, and carrying the sort of umbrella you stick in the sand, not the type that makes you look like an Englishman.

Travel, though, doesn't always turn out as planned.

Over the next few days, we didn't do what people typically do in the Outer Banks. We didn't go parasailing or hang gliding. The winds were too strong. Which is a little like saying you can't ride a camel through the Sahara because there is sand everywhere.