Last year, Chels & Rob & kids shared a tiny bungalow in Newport Beach (CA) with Rob's family for a week. They raved about the adventure and planted the seed for a future trip with the rest of us. Knowing that my own "poor neglected" baby had never seen the ocean in "real life", I promised that we would save our money and join them. It became a sort of graduation gift for J and unique vacation for Dean and I. Without going into all the details and worries of how we were actually going to make this thing work, I'll just say that it was a tummy twister from the beginning. By the time we'd finally paid our part of the week's rent (thank goodness we had a gracious "payment plan"), worked out the logistics of going on vacation just as J's freshman year of college was beginning, and finding a suitable dog-sitter for our pup, I was sure I had developed an ulcer. In fact, I was down-in-bed sick just two days before we were supposed to leave. Thank heaven for answers to prayers.
We took the scenic, cheap, and exhausting mode of travel - we drove our car. The trip TO the coast - not so bad; the trip BACK - excruciating. But the in-between was full of pearls - a whole strand of wonderful made up with individual amazement. In typical (for me) list-making behavior, those little beads of bliss were, as follows:
**reaching our destination by coming to the END of the freeway! Freeways end? Really? Wow...
**staying in the cutest, movie-worthy beach house that became our own secluded island, despite being six feet away from the neighbors on both sides
**walking 50 steps (give or take) from the white picket fence to the crashing waves of the Pacific!
**the sound of waves! the cool sea breeze! the foam! the sand! It actually gave me the same thrill I get when I'd walk through the gates of Disneyland. I just want to sob with joy.
**treasures in the sand - shells of every color and size, feathers from several species of birds, and PENNIES. Yes, my dad was there, watching...
**surfers! My own personal exhibition from bronzed, blonde, fearless SURFER DUDES! They arrived every morning to catch the perfect swell. I quickly learned to watch for the one who came up out of the water and perfectly flipped his hair away from his face with one swoop! I was mesmerized by the kids and girls as well as the young guys - one of my favorites was an older man who daily struggled to pull a pair of plastic flippers onto his feet. He probably started surfing as a kid & now used a boogey board to ride his wave clear to the beach. An old pro, still playing in the sand and the surf!
**the gift of seeing a pod of DOLPHINS one morning, their shiny silver backs gliding up & down out of the water! Spectacular!
**bicycles everywhere... It was rare to see a "mountain" bike; no, these had sturdy tires, wide seats, baskets on the handlebars, and one speed - the speed of pumping legs...
**Californians are PROs at parallel parking! Where parking is at a premium, these people can maneuver a car (or even a truck) into the teensiest spot available. And of course they don't pull into a spot, no, no. They do it exactly like the driver's ed film say to do it! Zip, zip, zip, ...and they're in. I admit I was jealous of their obvious skills.
I'm sure I could go on and on. I told Chels that I truly was "on vacation". There was no drama, no worries, no schedule to keep, nothing to hold me in either the house or on the beach, living comfortable and non-stressed. I didn't care what I looked like, what I was wearing. My skin felt moist & soft, my poor dry nostrils were clear and painless. I ate what I wanted without any problems. I slept all night without waking, the windows open, a small fan whirring softly. I wanted to get to the beach as soon as I woke up, and I wanted to watch the beautiful sun set at the edge of the world every night. Sometimes, the power of the waves pounding against the shore had me whispering, "Oh Lord, my God, how great thou art!"
Sadly, my J-girl remains a mountain fan. She was disappointed with the salt, the sand, the heat and the humidity. She would rather pull on a big sweater and hike trails on a cool Wasatch morning. She may not ever choose to go back. But me? Yes. I miss it. I was recharged. Maybe next time, I'll go solo. I'll sleep under the umbrella...and read more...and write more...and sit, barely breathing, as the surfers catch a wave.