Going to the beach is always a nostalgic past time for me. I was born in a city near the ocean, I spent my summers either going to the beach in Maine or the Outer Banks, NC, and my parents even moved to the beach in North Carolina. Sammy and I spent as many weekends basically as we could packing up the Honda with our critters and heading East.
Now that we live in Colorado, and don’t get me wrong, we LOVE Colorado so far, but we may be missing the beach a bit lately.
I can tell because Sammy has mentioned a couple times over the weekend how glorious it was for the dogs to be free and run their hearts out in the sand. If only they wouldn’t also roll in dead animals….
Yep. Dead. CARCASSES.
Aside from the inevitable dog baths, talking about this has prompted me to also have a heart swell about that sandy place that we’ve spent so much of our life. So, I decided to compile a list of some of the things I am missing the most about the Eastern coastal paradise.
1. The Ebb and Flow
Ever noticed how the natural motion of the waves can coincide with many other facets of life? The traffic in and out of a beach town, the rising and setting of the sun, the wind blowing one way or another, our own breaths in and out of our lungs. A lazy yet methodical back and forth that makes each moment, hour, day, seem complete.
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
— Isaac Newton
The sound of the tidal waves is something that I will miss up until the day I am standing right next to the ocean again. Sometimes it’s a quiet purr when the wind is carrying the sound away or the moon’s pull is just a little less. Then other times it can be a deafening roar blowing your hair back with its power and mist.
I can picture sheer white curtains blowing inward with every crash of the ocean waves outside the window, then settling each time the water retreats and the breeze eases. But just for a moment. The settled curtain is a sign of the calm before the next time the sea rumbles forward, reaching it’s foam fingers up toward the soft sand. I can picture this because I know it’s from a room at what used to be my Great-Uncle Spencer’s beach house. All I ever wanted was to sleep next to the waves with my windows open in that room. The first time I finally did lay claim to it, I couldn’t sleep due to the noisy nature of the ocean that night. But I didn’t mind. I laid in bed staring out the window and I decided that this sleepness night was well worth it.
That sound is something that stays with you forever. And I’m not talking about finding it in a conch shell at Big Joe’s Discount Warehouse either. That is one that ingrains itself in the brain and lives comfortably there until the end of one’s days.
2. The Salt
That sticky layer that forms on your skin is actually a good thing! Here are some benefits to salt water:
- Salt water is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal giving it healing properties
- Can treat multiple different skin issues including acne, eczema, minor abrasions, and even dandruff (something that we deal with everyday here in the dry air!)
- It can help clear your nasal passages should you be so (un?)fortunate to get the salt water up in your forehead
- Cleans excess oils and products out of your hair
- That smell is something that conjures up a lot of remembered and revered images of riding through a marsh, road trips to the beach, that first time you roll down the window upon arrival, even the way your stuff smells as you unpack
Take just a moment and close your eyes to think about some of your favorite beach memories! Feel free to smile just remembering the happy times. Hopefully no Jaws-like incidents come to mind, but if they do, you’re still here and kickin’ butt so that seems like a good sign.
3. Flip Flops
I can’t even properly express my love for flip flops of all kinds. There has to be a way to describe foot claustrophobia or the general dislike of having your feet cooped up inside of socks, inside of shoes. Who wants that when there are such glorious creations as flip flops? Last year I got a pair of Sanuk Yoga Sling Flip Flops and they are just amazing! The sole is made out of yoga mat material so they are SUPER comfortable to wear! The Sanuk company also has a pretty good message in supporting laughter and fun, while simultaneously engaging in community outreach and innovation. I can get behind that!
My flip flops will be getting even less action this year since I am hoping to spend a good chunk of my summer outside hiking, but I’ll carry our memories with me.
4. The People-watching
Now, I have found in my experience that there is people-watching to be done in any location, in any city, in any state, in any country on this green Earth. But the beach happens to be home to a really interesting (and varying) species of touron.
Tourist + Moron = TOURON
They don’t wear pants or shoes in the grocery store, pharmacy, or liquor store. They probably by nature don’t wear pants at all unless a business owner tells them they aren’t allowed in unless they comply with this rule. I can’t exactly argue… but I at least know when I should probably have on a pair in public to cover my ass.
These tourons might get really drunk on the beach and end up with epic sunburns, or they could find themselves faceplanted in the sand.
Some might just get drunk and let their kids do the rest for them.
They make really irrational driving movements, drive the wrong way down one way streets, drive too fast, too slow… amidst a season full of other tourons on the road from May to September. They don’t know where to park. They don’t know how to park….
They stand in the middle of the street pointing and yelling, “Look, honey! They have a Margaritaville here!” And they are totally oblivious to the sound of car horns and the general traffic pattern around them as everyone slams on their brakes to avoid them.
Grab another Corona and some popcorn! That’s where the real entertainment is at. Touron watching…. YAS please.
5. The Sand
I know you’re thinking, who in their right mind misses the sand???
But that feeling of your feet in the sand in a really euphoric and underestimated thing!
Also, my friend once told me that she needed to get a pedicure because her “feets be catching on sheets!” I love this quote. It’s gross, but that shit happens. The sand at the beach makes feet catching a non-issue.
It also gives you a nice leg and butt workout as you pick your way through it and avoid the areas or times of day where it feels like you’ve stepped in 400 degrees of hot frying oil. In those instances, you do sprints.
6. Summer Storms
Another one for the people thinking I’m nuts. But just look at that photo! Does this bring back some memories, or what?
I’ve been caught in these storms many times before either by accident or by choice, and there’s always something refreshing about it. You can watch it coming in advance as the sky darkens and you start hearing thunder. Then the rain falls slowly at first, picking up after just a moment, and it rinses off the sand, dirt, pollen, and salt, moving along down the shore. It leaves you and the sun to reconnect as old friends in the end, but it leaves behind that crisp smell that can only be from a fresh rain. The day cools off and you’re left with a breezy and molted beach evening straight out of a movie.
And you don’t even have to water your plants.
Or wash your car, for some of us.
7. Palm Trees
I didn’t even realize it was something you could miss, but I really, really do.
The pines and evergreens and aspens are pretty here, and the smell is pretty fine to boot, but there is something about looking around and admiring the variety of palms in beach towns that fills part of my memory. Short, tall, bushy, spiky — they come in all types and are stuck in all corners in the coastal Southeast. You just have to appreciate their hardiness, versatility and unique looks!
And Christmas lights. They make almost everything better.
8. Setting up THE SPOT
I used to live in Charleston, SC, and gearing up for a day at Folly Beach was always an adventure. I lived there fresh out of college when I was learning oh so many things about who I was, how to make it on my own, and also, how to party. Either by purchase or by other people leaving them, my roomie and I slowly built up an arsenal of beach supplies to include, but not limited to:
- An obligatory rainbow umbrella
- Ladder Golf
- A bright pink boogie board that came with our townhouse, branded the “Hard Slick”
- A clear float complete with cupholders that I used one time ever (good luck battling rip tides on a float!)
- A Velcro paddle ball set
- A Bocce ball set
- A complimentary BOX of promotional koozies representing my friend’s real estate business
- A couple plastic wiffle ball bats that I would like to say were used for actual sports, but in reality were only used for many rounds of Dizzy Bat
- A cooler WITH WHEELS (it was a struggle back then)
We’ve had dance parties, giant kickball games, kegs buried in the sand, and slip n’ slides. There is something that feels very accomplished about being well-prepared for the best day ever. Isn’t it always exciting to unpack your car and set up your beach space for the day? So many things to keep you busy! It may look like the wreckage from the Titanic at the end of the day, but as long as you leave no trash behind, it’s all a success.
9. The Town Personalities
I don’t know about you, but when I hit the beach, I don’t typically head for places like Miami or Myrtle. I love the feel of the smaller beach towns like any of those you might see driving through the Northeast or the Outer Banks, Carolina Beach or Folly Beach. Sullivan’s Island, Ocean Isle or Southport. The places with the personality and pride, not the crowd!
These are the places where people drive golf carts instead of cars. They showcase their local achievements, businesses, artists and native flora and fauna. They have local gatherings and parades around the times of holidays. These are the places that may be a little more untouched and undiscovered by the general populous, leaving more room for the rest of us to take our [island] time and explore at our own pace and in our own direction.
10. The Treasures
In my family, we are seaglassers. We have trained our eyes to find it and our hearts to fully appreciate it.
Seaglass always has a source and usually a history too. Certain colors may have only been made in the 1700’s or the 1950’s, or they could have been part of a collection of antique glasswares.
A few Christmases ago, I got my mom the book Pure Sea Glass by Richard LaMotte which also came with these nifty Sea Glass Identification Cards! We carry these flash cards around in our beach bags to help us out when we find more rare colors. Just match the color to the card and read about the history! Super cool.
I also love using beach finds to decorate with! Glass, shells, coral, sponges, even sand can liven up a room and help bring the beach to you. This doesn’t always fit in at my house in Colorado, but like Sammy said when I pulled my treasures out of the moving boxes and questioned their suitability in my new living room, “they’re part of our story!”
11. Our Story
Sammy was right in that the beach and the coast intertwines in a lot of the chapters of our lives! His family vacationed at the beach, and I spent my summers heading up to Maine. Those were times that we are extremely lucky to have gotten to experience, and I have NEVER in my life felt nostalgia like I did when I returned to Maine recently and set foot on the property that I spent so much time growing up. The friends and the family that we spent our times with. The activities that you can only do at the beach — finding sand dollars and starfish, local outings and whale watching.
We vacationed with good friends over the summer in the Outer Banks and we experienced both the buzz of Nags Head and the calm at Corolla. We drove on the beach and saw the wild horses. We climbed the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge and we explored in the dark, all making memories with people we love.
Sammy and I got engaged on the beach and were married on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC very close to it. My parents met us after the proposal to watch the sunset and to enjoy some celebratory champagne.
I think I am recognizing that I must be some kind a grown up to say all of this. The hubbub and crowd are what draws your attention in childlike eyes, but the natural appeal and serenity is what attracts the adult. I now have the mountains, but the beach lives on in our treasures and memories.
Cue the Terminator!
I’ll be back.
Now I’m curious: what was your favorite beach vacation and why? If it’s in any way possible to narrow it down, I’d love to hear about it 🙂