Monday, July 10, 2023

I love the concept of beach vacations. It's the execution that presents problems.

As I type this, I'm sitting in the enclosed patio of our rented house in Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Terry is next to me doing some sort of craft that involves creating a picture of Lilo & Stitch from small beads.

Jared is across the table on his laptop writing media notes that are, as he says, of interest only to a very small group of writers and broadcasters covering tonight's Major League Baseball game between his employer, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Seattle Mariners.

Elissa is to my right crocheting a yarn bikini for the plastic goose that sits in the front window of her house (that statement is 100% true).

Jack is reclining on a nearby chair, playing on his phone.

Light music is coming from Jared's laptop. We are all conversing and laughing.

This, to me, is exactly what vacation should be.

Here's the problem, which I know isn't really a problem at all: The Atlantic Ocean is about 400 feet away. Our nephew Chandler is driving up from his home in Newport News, Virginia, and due to arrive in a half hour or so. Once he gets here, we're all going to change into swimsuits and head to the beach.

That is, after all, why we drove 9 hours from Ohio. This is a beach vacation, and beach vacations by definition involve going to the beach.

I love the idea of going to the beach. And I love the first 10 minutes of being at the beach.

Then it all kind of goes south for me.

I'm not a water guy, but I plan to spend some time in the chilly ocean waters because I would hate to leave here in a few days without having done that.

I'm not a sand castle builder, but I'll chip in if everyone else is doing it.

The boys and I will toss a ball around, which is fun but after awhile makes my 53-year-old rotator cuff cry out for mercy.

We were never a beach vacation family until we first came here to Bethany Beach in 2016 and had a really good time. Seven years later we're back, having coordinated the complicated schedules of eight 20-somethings, a teenager, and two parents.

I wanted to recreate that 2016 vacation, though I realize now that what I wanted to recreate was not so much the beach part of it. It's being together that most appeals to me, whether or not we ever get close to the water.

There's also this: As I have often noted, I am not a particularly good relaxer. Or at least I don't relax in the same way other people relax.

I almost always need to be doing something. So far on this trip, that has meant playing several games of cribbage, enduring two disastrous losses in Battleship to Jared, washing and putting away the dishes, making our bed, doing some laundry, carding a brisk round of mini-golf, and taking a walk.

Some of those are vacation-type activities while others are not. All of them give me satisfaction because that's just the way I am. Getting stuff done is what I like, whether I'm at home or traveling. I suppose it's how I maintain some semblance of control over my existence.

I admire real beach people. People who can plop down in a chair, slather themselves in sunscreen and read a book for hours. People who don't mind sand in their shoes. People who never tire of frolicking in salt water.

I am not one of them, nor will I ever be. But I admire them.

At the same time, I almost never feel particularly stressed or uptight. I'm perfectly happy the way I am.

You have your way of relaxing, I have mine.

There are sting rays in the ocean, you know. The only foolproof way of avoiding them is not going to the beach at all.


  1. Our family loves those kind of vacation but we go to the mountains in Georgia (a city called Helen. Thank you for your family updates. Love to you and your family. Cindy Ross

  2. Amen brother. Just finished my own beach vacation. I’m married to one of those beach people you describe 😂