By Bruce Stambaugh
I’m not a sun worshipper. I prefer an exhilarating hike in the cool, refreshing mountain summer air where the views are spectacular and the flora and fauna inspirational.
How did we end up vacationing on a North Carolina beach? When our daughter asked my wife and I to join her family on their beach vacation, we didn’t hesitate. It’s what grandparents are supposed to do. It’s what grandparents live to do.
Watching our grandchildren’s initial reaction to being on the beach was alone worth the eight-hour drive from their Virginia home. After getting things settled for the week in our rental home, we walked to the beach with the intention of simply taking a look. The three grandkids, ages eight, five and two, had other ideas.
At low tide, the impressive sandy beach served as a gradual launching ramp into the soft, rolling tide. With their parents’ approval, all three grandkids dived right in fully clothed sans shoes, laughing and giggling away.
The adults kicked off their shoes and waded in as well. The water was unusually warm for mid-June.
For a week, save for one rainy day, the weather was absolutely perfect. The morning air warmed enough that we could hit the beach before 10 each day. Steady ocean breezes kept down the humidity and the sweating while we played with the grandchildren both in the gentle, silvery surf and on the sandy shore.
Arriving early at the beach had another advantage. We nearly had the expansive seascape to ourselves. At that time of day, beach walkers and runners easily outnumbered the swimmers.
The kids enjoyed the boogie boards they had borrowed and brought along. The two boys ventured out into waist high water to await waves sufficient enough to carry them gently onto the moist sand. Of course they didn’t always make it that far, which made it all the more enjoyable. Either way they jumped and shouted and repeated the playful process.
Their sister, the two-year-old, took a more delicate approach. She marched to where the water lapped the shore and laid down atop a little boogie board facing the ocean. Apparently she reasoned that with the tide coming in why not simply let the waves come to her. That way she didn’t have to face the force of the rolling water head on.
Her plan worked. Once the water reached her, she raised her head, pushed back her blond locks and enjoyed the gentle saltwater buffeting.
Between interplays with the sun, sand and the waves, the children and their parents enjoyed bicycle forays around the small island. The two-year old rode in the bicycle trailer. The combination of the bumpy roads and the arduous times at the beach took their toll. She returned to the beach house sound asleep.
Toward the end of our stay, the kids turned more toward plying their sandcastle construction skills than they did dips in the ocean. The relentless waves served as an excellent cleanser for their sand-plastered skin.
The last full day of the vacation, the two-year-old already had on her swimsuit before breakfast. With arms stretched wide, her excited “Ta Da” entrance and her big smile summed up the entire week.
We may have been at the beach, but we all had mountains and mountains of fun.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012