Friday, July 23, 2010

Life's a Beach

"At the beach, life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun."

I've always loved the beach since I was a little girl. My favorite childhood memories are not of Disney World trips or roller coaster rides. My precious memories were grounded with wood and metal stakes, filled with cots and air mattresses, and edged with canvas.

Mims and Me in the early morning

We camped as a family at the beach for vacations with our friends, The Whitlocks. Some may find this idea tiring and about as fun as pulling weeds, but to us it was magical. We would leave early in the morning, sometimes before the sun. My sister and I would occasionally sleep on a pallet in the back of the van until we reached McDonalds in Monroe. After that, there was no hope of sleeping, for the Wentz and Whitlock girls had met up by then, sausage biscuits had been eaten, and the sun was in full view. Our days were numbered at the beach, with 4 days being equivalent to heaven. This, my fellow readers, is the reason for leaving before the sun appeared.

Wentz and Whitlock Family at Calabash

Once we arrived, the campground at Apache and later Lakewood, was beginning to stir. A slight breeze would stir through the trees, tents would be set up, rafts blown up, and beach bags found. Our bathing suits were already on, and to the beach we would trudge. In order to have a shady spot, sometimes this meant being in the back of the campground. This made the anticipation even greater; we girls would walk briskly, carrying our coconut oil in our cute bags, watching the ocean grow in size as we got closer. Once there, no one was crazy enough to walk back. We were there to stay. Ham sandwhiches were in the coolers, cokes were iced, and we had our walkmans with us.

Setting Up, By Ourselves: Triumph

As we got older, Meghan (the oldest Whitlock girl) and I decided this walking was not cool. We envied the other pre-teens and teenagers who maneuvered their golf carts past the poor walkers. At night, the golf carts would ride around, up and down the main road by the ocean. Meghan and I decided one year that we would save our money for the next beach trip. We saved all year, and we rented a golf cart for 3 of the 4 days, I believe. We would drive our sisters, moms, and sometimes dads if they were up for it to the beach. We drove (aka cruised) up and down the main street by the ocean in the evening, and we talked of dreams, hopes, and girly things.

We slept soundly in the tents and were lulled to sleep by the homey sounds of the campground. When thunder rumbled in the distance, we would pray really hard that it wouldn't rain. Yet, it always seemed to rain. We would huddle in the middle of the tent trying to convince ourselves that the rain was NOT dripping from the top and it was DEFINITELY NOT seeping in from the corners.

Waiting out the rain in the Whitlock pop-up

One such year, we packed up camp early. I think a severe thunderstorm and possible tornadoes were part of the reason. All the girls were older, the moms and dads wiser. We decided that even though camping made memories, we would like to be around to remember them. That was the last year we camped. The next year we joined every other family in the week-long beach house experience.

Yes, I enjoyed walking straight off the deck to the beachfront, or even crossing a street from the 2nd row houses. I enjoyed being able to run back and forth between the house and the glaring sun. I slept soundly at night without fear of torrential downpours, and I didn't have to blow dry my hair in a bathhouse. Despite all this, I have a special place in my heart for the camping days.

Gathering Round the fire..

Jonah's first beach experience was in an air-conditioned house, 1 block from the ocean. There was no fear of rain, weird spiders crawling through opened tent zippers, or dead golf cart batteries. When he gets older and out of diapers, I'd like to think we could carry on the tradition of camping at the beach. It may be only one night, and it may not be exactly like we did it. I'd probably have to upgrade to a pop-op or camper, have my own toilet, and definitely have a golfcart. Yet, he would still experience certain things you never could in a house.

Stay tuned for Jonah's version of his beach experience....


Charbelle said...

Great pictures Anna!!! Beach memories are priceless!!!

Hailey said...

That was so great!! Love the memories! :)