Tag Archives: siesta key beach

Like it or not, beach vacations rule

atthebeachbybrucestambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

If I had to choose between vacationing in the mountains and spending a week on the beach, I would always head to the mountains. But you don’t always get your way in life, especially when consistently out-voted three to one in a democratic family.

I thought about that recently while relaxing, you guessed it, on a beach. A towheaded little girl jumped in glee as the next lapping froth of a broken wave tickled her toes. The roar of the crashing surf drowned out her joyous squeals.

challengingthewavesbybrucestambaugh

Our four-year-old granddaughter was fearless at the beach.

Sandy-haired young boys, already tanned from summer baseball games, challenged the powerful surf head-on and lost. Deposited several feet down shore, the pair still celebrated in the foamy residue. The gamey boys shook their heads like wet dogs, and went back for more.

The excited little girl and the rollicking boys were our grandchildren. Watching them soak up the benefits of a beach vacation scarcely differed from the memories of our own daughter and son savoring the seashore when they were young. The infectious laughter and shrieks of oceanic ecstasy displayed by the grandkids perfectly mimicked those of our son and daughter.

Clearly, the family beach vacation tradition continues. The seashore in the summer is always mesmerizing. Senses are invigorated.

capehatteraslighthousebybrucestambaugh

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is an iconic symbol for vacationers on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

The sight of whitecaps frosting the rolling water, the sound of wave after wave pounding the beach, whiffs of salty sea air, the texture of gritty sand beneath your bare feet, incredible sunrises and awesome sunsets, animated shorebirds, and picturesque lighthouses soothe even the harshest of souls.

Growing up, our children certainly had plenty of opportunities to catch ocean fever. Once the kids were old enough to enjoy extended trips, the beach seemed to be the destination of choice, no matter what dad suggested. We fitted in informative historical spots and intriguing geographical venues in route to the shore. The beach, however, was the main allure.

Our family beach escapes could actually serve as a partial chronology of our life together.

The first such jaunt was to Ocean City, New Jersey. The kids were hooked, on the beachy benefits, not the historic landmarks of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that we visited on the way. Intriguingly, our son-in-law and his family had vacationed there, too.

siestakeybeachbybrucestambaugh

Sarasota, Florida’s Siesta Key Beach is rated one the world’s finest.

After that we did Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Cocoa Beach and Siesta Key Beach in Florida. Each year the kids upped the ante in where they wanted to plop their beach blankets. Eventually, it was California here we come.

I was all for visiting the left coast of the country. It truly would be a family vacation since both my wife and I had relatives and friends in the Golden State.

Besides, this would provide an excellent opportunity to get the family into some real mountains, Yosemite National Park being the main destination. Though they wouldn’t admit it then, our son and daughter loved Yosemite as I had hoped they would.

summersolsticesunrisebybrucestambaugh

The Summer Solstice sunrise on the Outer Banks was a beauty.

Still, it was being on the beach with their cousins that drew them. Our children were pleased until they hit the water at Huntington Beach. Even though we were in southern California, the ocean was a bit too chilly for swimming. Nevertheless, they soaked up the Orange County suntan time and the lively interacting with their kin.

Another crashing breaker swamped the grandsons. Their fair-haired sister kept building her Outer Banks sand castle. I continued to snap the camera’s shutter capturing the unfolding fun while I mentally recalled the many pleasant scenes on the beaches of our family life.

buriedinthesandbybrucestambaugh

Being buried in the sand is a part of every beach vacation.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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The best thing about vacations

Leaving the harbor by Bruce Stambaugh

Fishermen leave the harbor at Fernandina Beach, FL.


By Bruce Stambaugh

Vacation is one of my favorite words. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of those duplicitous words in the English language that can be used as either a noun or a verb.

I love to go on vacation. We will vacation at the beach. Either way, the end result is still the same. Vacation is vacation.

My wife and I are fortunate to be at a point in our lives where we can get away, if only for a few days, without much hassle. When friends invited us to share a house with them in sunny Florida for a week, we cleared our schedules and confirmed our reservations.

When you live in northern Ohio and it’s wintertime, there’s only one direction to go on vacation, and that is south. Clearly, I’m not a snow skier. At my age, I prefer the warmth to cold, and so do my old bones.

Siesta sunset by Bruce Stambaugh

Sunset at Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, FL.

It’s more than climate that draws us away from our familiar digs, Holmes Co., Ohio, where up to four million visit annually. Most visitors to our area, however, choose spring, summer and especially fall to roam the bucolic Holmes County hills.

Our curiosity and desire for adventure draw us away from our own congenial vistas as much as anything. We love to explore new places as well as revisit familiar ones.

Our gracious Florida hosts planned plenty of interesting activities for us during our weeklong stay. Fortunately, we enjoy many similar activities as our friends. Like us, they prefer to pace themselves. It was vacation after all. No reason to rush.

I could bore you with a verbal slideshow of our trip. I’ll just say we had a great time, whether we were on the most beautiful beach in the country, which we were, or enjoying an enlightening and informative historical tour, which we did.

Florida House by Bruce Stambaugh

The Florida House, Fernandina Beach, FL, is the oldest operating hotel in Florida.


Instead, I want to tell you about some of the people we encountered along the way. It happens wherever we go. I am fascinated and appreciate the kindness of pure strangers we encounter on our travels. Meeting new people is one of the vacation perks.

Sure, there are a few goofballs almost everywhere. But for the most part, we have found people to be absolutely engaging, matching the gorgeous scenery that surrounds them.

It is hard to single out any one person in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Everyone we met seemed like a familiar character from Mayberry.

Captain Dave by Bruce Stambaugh

Captain Pajama Dave piloted our Beach Creek tour at Fernandina Beach, FL.

The young and enthusiastic park ranger near Mt. Mitchell on the Blue Ridge Parkway was most helpful. He directed us to Asheville when we found the road unexpectedly closed.

The kind lady at the Venice Rookery who encouraged us to return at dusk to watch the hundreds of nesting egrets, herons and ibises settle in for the night was a pure gem. Even a non-birder would marvel at that experience.

Another amazing individual was our tour boat captain at Fernandina Beach, Florida. Captain Dave was as cordial and passionate about his lovely habitat as the history of the area was interesting. His trademark bright red Elmo pajama pants fit his personality and his passion for nature’s handiwork that he so eloquently pointed out.

Juniper by Bruce Stambaugh

The precocious Juniper.


Finally, there was 2-year-old Juniper, the petite and perky daughter of some friends in Charlotte. We had never met her. Yet by evening’s end, she wanted “Pruce” to read her one more book.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, Oh the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met. Together they make vacation a charmed word in our household.

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