Busy in Bristow: The Joys of Being a Beach Bum Family

| August 24, 2014 | 0 Comments | Busy in Bristow

Each summer, we dig through the back shed in search of the boogy boards and the sand toys. We lock the Turtle in place on the van top, we sit in hours of traffic, and somewhere on our journey, famished and tired of the car snacks we packed, we buy overpriced fast food. Why do we do it?

Once we arrive, we make up beds and go the local Food Lion for what we hope is a week’s worth of groceries but never is. We may pause to sniff the salt air, but it usually takes awhile before we get to stick our toes in the sand. There’s something exciting about setting up house in a rental … the everyday chore that we avoided at home holds some magic here even if it is just putting a new roll of toilet paper on the holder.

If you’re there with another family, you’ll play Bedroom Bingo and discuss the pros/cons of each choice. Together, you’ll raid the bookshelf and cabinets to see what dime store novels and family board games there are. Finally, you’ll put on bathing suits, spray on sun block, and hit the beach.

It takes a lot of effort to get to the beach, but it only takes one crash of waves and the panoramic expanse of blue water to remember why you come back each year. 

We have yet to take another kind of vacation that relaxes us as much as our annual affair with the beach. This year, we waited all summer just to get a glimpse. While other families went down to the Outer Banks in June and spent July in Ocean City, we looked at the August calendar with dismay. We both yearned for our beach trip and wished it would never come — since with it, came summer’s end.

Our first year at Sunset Beach (the southernmost tip of North Carolina), the neighborhood was practically deserted, and only a handful of umbrellas dotted the coast. We figured it was because the causeway was still new, and it was later in August when students in schools down South were already starting school. We loved the seclusion, our beach shack with its bare essentials minus a washer/dryer, and the spontaneity with which we took the trip. The house was a cheery pink with white shutters and a front porch with Granny rockers.

Our kids, at first, did not like the beach. Oldest Son was excited by the waves but bored by the rest of it. Our twins used to walk on the outside edges of their feet in a futile effort to avoid the sand, and one of us spent half our time in the rental where they could either nap or watch cartoons. Youngest Daughter didn’t mind it actually – she crawled through the sand as if it were grass, but we didn’t like that because we were constantly hauling her into the water (which she didn’t like) washing her off.

Now, they spend the entire day, every day on the beach with us. We explain to them that we do not come to the beach to visit the pool. They shovel sand and dig deep holes, collect and compare shells, body surf and boogy board, and dive head first into waves. We are happily raising the next generation of beach bums.

Three reasons beach going is easier now than it was a few years ago? Our kids are also old enough to help carry things on and off the beach. And because they are older, we rarely have to make rogue bathroom breaks to the house. Plus, no one’s napped for years (unless it’s one of us falling asleep to the sound of the waves), so there’s no more rock, paper, scissors about who has to make the trek back to the house.

None of us are early risers, and I take my coffee on the screened in front porch, so we usually make a sleeve of sandwiches, leisurely get our suits off the line, and lather on sunscreen around 11:00am. We stay on the beach for 6-7 hours until the sun is low in the sky and the air is cooler (or at least not that hot).

Before we take down the tent/umbrella, I move – with my chair and book – closer to the sea so that by the end of the day, I am no longer avoiding the tide but becoming one with it. By now, the kids too have become sea creatures, sitting in tidal pools or laying down by the edge of the water making drip castles out of sand that slides out of their fingers. Husband snoozes by the dune. We each know our part in this sacred ritual.

In spite of the efforts and cost that go into making this annual holiday, we return to the beach each year because the ocean transfixes and transforms. The shore is more than a place to unwind and relax, more than a place to play and be silly. The beach strips us of all pretense and brings us back to our essential selves.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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