Tag Archives: beach vacation

A Little Beach Getaway

We were not a vacationing family, although we did, on occasion, venture out in the over-packed Vista Cruiser from time to time, a cooler full of pimento cheese and lunch meat, loaves of bread squashed between bickering children.  There were seven of us crammed into a car designed for six, but this was before the days of mandatory seat belts.  It seems impossible to me now that a couple of us rattled around in the very back—the cargo space for luggage and whatnot.

We went to Jekyll Island, one of Georgia’s sea islands,  where the waves were puny and nearby pulp mills freighted the air with their special perfume.  But the sun was hot, there were sea turtles and the abandoned mansions left by Rockafellers, the Cranes, the Vanderbilts and the Morgans.  When we tired of the beach we explored the old cottages—cottages by millionaires’ standards—where we found small openings to crawl through. We spent  happy hours running through the gilded halls with the peeling wallpaper, and no one noticed and we didn’t care anyway.

But the beach, with the heat and the sand fleas, and the blinding sun—the beach of my youth with the mandatory requirement to get as brown as you can as quick as you can—that beach was never my favorite.  There was no moderation to that kind of beach vacation, and no such thing as sun screen.  If you weren’t shivering by early evening with sun poisoning, then you weren’t doing it right.

Thus, my aversion.

But the mature adult beach trip. Now that is something else again.  It involves big hats, and 50+ sunscreen and possibly a caftan or two.  It involves lots of books to be read, read not on the beach but on the balcony overlooking it.  There are bags of organic coffee in the tote bag, and special cheeses and artisanal breads, and a list of fresh fruits to pick up at road side stands along the way. 

There is an unfinished knitting project along for the ride, just in case boredom sets in.  A laptop and camera.  Candles for the balcony, a life-planning journal that will remain untouched, even though the thought is, all that fresh air and ocean breeze and roaring surf will bring clarity and inspiration.

Uh.  No.

All those things just make one sleepy.

Which is to say that a beach vacation can be restorative.

That is why I decided at the last minute to find something on a beach, somewhere, even though it is summer and hot and I hate the heat.  But I have a big hat.  I have books, and all the items mentioned above. 

I am gathering up all my beach gear even as I write this, and trust me, it is pretty sad as beach gear goes. I picked up two beach towels at the grocery.  I scrounged around for some shorts and found a couple of tee shirts that don’t have holes in them.  Flip-flops. Swimsuit. Something to wear to dinner.  And that, dear readers, is just about it. 

I may make some purchases once I am there.  I have already planned my big splurge—a sand chair.  You know the ones. A lawn chair that, at first glance, looks like a second,  because the legs are so very short.  Surely mistakes have been made.

But no!  They are designed that way, so you can sit almost in the sand, but just above it, and if you take it to the water’s edge, you can sit and feel the tide come in, first your toes, and then your ankles,  and when your bottom gets the message, it is  time to move the chair.

And I have already decided, I will get a deluxe model—one with a high back so that when I am dozing it can support my head, which will be rolling around like a melon on a pike.

I will be heading out soon and I have to say I am looking forward to it.  The long but leisurely drive down south.  Peaches at a roadside stand. The imaginary walks on the beach at sunrise.  The even more imaginary walks on the beach with the moon over my shoulder.  Perhaps the Blue Angels will zoom out over the water as they practice.  Perhaps I will finish my knitting project.  Perhaps I will sleep late, nap in the afternoon. 

Perhaps, but it is not required, I will go into the ocean.

Vacation All Week Long

The house is quiet as I write this. My travel mates are somewhere–maybe walking on the beach, maybe still asleep, why, they might have packed up and left me here for all I know. It’s been that kind of week, and wonderful.

We wander around, each in her own little world, and we pass quite companionable hours in the same room without speaking to each other. This one sits on the balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. That one walks through the door shedding sand while checking her Fitbit for accumulated steps. Me, I always seem to be just waking up. From a nap. From a nine hour sleep. From the exhaustion that comes from finishing a book. I’ve read three, by the way, here at the midpoint of the vacation. If I choose wisely I might be able to clock another three before we pull out of the parking lot in the early morning dark as we make our way home.

Here is a synopsis of our conversations in their entirety. “Did you sleep well?” “Should I make more coffee?” “Hand me the sunscreen.” “Where will we eat tonight?” That last one we broach before nine o’clock each morning and serious and complicated discussions ensue throughout the morning and afternoon. We always eat at the first place mentioned, but still, it seems to reassure us that we are intelligent and capable women who deal with complex issues with thoroughness and depth. It’s as close to work as we get.IMG_0135 There is something liberating about being of a certain age and hanging at the beach. In my youth I spent hours, days thinking about and assembling “outfits.” The perfect swimsuit, the cutest shorts, the little tops with spaghetti straps to keep the tan going and to ensure trips to the dermatologist later in life. No one could be more ill-prepared for a trip to the beach than I. My sister provided my beach towels, including a really nice one meaghan at the beachbelonging to Meghan. We don’t know who Meghan is or how my sister’s family came into possession of her towel, but it is very thick and colorful with her name embroidered on it. It has been a favorite all week, and we have fought over it.

My swimsuit, well, lets just say it is an embarrassment and leave it at that. And I only have the one, not multiples as I packed in my youth. Some days I don’t even wear it to the beach, opting instead for baggy shorts and a tee-shirt. As I teen I could imagine nothing worse, more sordid and repulsive than wearing clothes to the beach. It seemed a sacreledge not to expose every inch of skin that was humanly decent to the punishing sun, all in anticipation of lying in bed of an evening, sick with fever and pulsing as the soft sheets pricked my burning skin like needles.

When Nick, the cute boy who rents the chairs, came around to set our umbrella, we made sure he positioned it so that half our bodies would be in shade at any given time of day. He was sweet and accommodating, reassuring us he would be close by to make any changes we requested as the day went on. He all but kissed our cheeks as he might his aging aunties.

I don’t even have a pair of sunglasses. I am wearing my friend, Jackie’s, because she has two pairs. When the sun gets too bright I throw my sarong over my head, or across my legs, and I am pretty sure instead of a those crisp tan lines I worked on as a kid, I will come home with a mosaic of blotches, and I won’t even try to hide them.

There is an art to doing nothing, and while I can do nothing with a vengeance at home, it is usually in the service of the avoidance of doing something. This beach vacation is different. When I counted up the years that have passed since I spent a week at the beach–or anywhere—with nothing at all to do, it was shocking, the lapse of time. I don’t know when I might be back to the beach, but I can tell you this. I won’t wait so long next time. I will be on some beach, with Meghan’s towel, books and tee-shirts and no alarm clock anywhere.

Jackie Rogers
Jackie Rogers