Beachless Winter

Over the past few years, we’ve gotten into the habit of trying to put a little beach into our Midwestern winters.  At least once during the cold months, we’ve gone somewhere that allows us to puts toes in the sand, drink a pina colada or two, listen to some steel drum music, and mostly revel in baking heat and glorious sunshine.

hammock between palm trees on untouched beach in the CaribbeanAnd we’ve done a good job of picking the weeks we’ve gone, too.  One year we missed a crushing ice storm that knocked out power to many homes and left people scrambling for alternative lodging in local hotels until power could be restored.  Another year we missed a freakish spate of ultra cold weather.  In both cases, when we returned from our trips, happy and rested and relaxed, and learned about the crappy weather we’d missed, we felt especially grateful for our beach sojourns and shared a secret smile about it even as we listened sympathetically to our neighbors and friends telling us how bad things had been.

This year, though, we decided not to go with the beach trip.  That was a mistake.   A terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mistake.

As a result, we’ve been exposed to unrelenting months of cold, bleak weather in every form the creative Mother Nature can devise — snow, frigid temperatures for weeks at a time, freezing rain, and blustery, driving showers with temperatures in the 40s.  The last bit of weather might be the worst of all, leaving you feeling raw and red-faced.  Who really likes windy, rainy days in the 40s?  And, because it’s the Midwest, almost all of these forms of weather were delivered with the accompaniment of gray, overcast skies that feel like a funeral shroud has been tossed over the world.

With each passing year, having even brief exposure to bright sunshine, blue skies, and blue water seems more and more important, just to break up the winter months into two manageable chunks and give us some warm weather to eagerly anticipate.  It’s nice to know that we’re now in March, and the nice spring weather is just around the corner, but Kish and I have vowed that we’ve learned our lesson:  next winter, we’re going to hit the beach again.  No excuses.

Advertisements

Sunrise, Sunset

When you go on a beach vacation, oohing and aahing about the sunrises and sunsets is an ironclad requirement.  There’s something about the combination of sun, clouds, water and a distant horizon that just grabs you — especially if you’re a landlocked Midwesterner.

Here at our resort in Belize, the sunrise part is easy.  Our cottage faces east, and when Old Sol peeks over the horizon you notice it immediately.  Step outside the front door, walk out onto the beach, and voila! 

The sunset requires a bit more work.  Just to the west of our resort is a kind of inlet, with small islands and plants dotting the surface.  You have to walk off the resort property, cross a dusty road, and stand and wait.  In some ways, it’s more visually interesting than the ocean.  Quieter, too — without the crashing surfing you can hear the birdsong and the lapping of the rippled water.  It’s a striking setting.

We’ve really enjoyed our trip to Belize, which ends today.

Shell Game

  
I have a bowl in my office, on a table between two chairs.  Every time I take a trip to a beach, I bring back a shell (or three) to add to the bowl.  It’s a little bit of whimsy in an otherwise functional office, and a pleasant, physical reminder of relaxed, carefree times.

I don’t try to bring back perfect shells — that would be frustrating and defeat the purpose — but rather shells that, because of their color or texture or shape, just caught my eye as I walked on the sand.  This trip it’s a coral theme, with a ridged piece of brain coral, a reddish piece that is shot through with holes, and a globby item that somehow reminds me of a ghost.

Toes In The Sand

IMG_2279Every few years, I want to take a warm weather vacation after the weather turns cold in Ohio.  I want to put toes in the sand, hear the crash and thrum of waves on sand, feel the radiating sunshine pulsing on my bleached white brow, and drink a cold beer while the condensation beads up on the bottle.

I want to see turquoise water against yellow brown sand, sit under a brightly colored beach umbrella or covering made of palm fronds, and read a book in bright sunshine.  I want to walk on the gritty sand, look for an interesting sea shell or two, and watch a sailboat scudding across the waves and framed against the far horizon.

In short, I want to get as far away from my normal day-to-day existence as I possibly can.  This year, the destination is a few stops in the Windward Islands.  We’re on our way.

Cocktail Hour

IMG_2523It seems like every hour you are on a beach vacation is cocktail hour, but on Antigua — which is on Atlantic time, and therefore is an hour ahead of our standard Eastern time zone — cocktail hour is actually here.

My drink of choice this vacation has become a pina colada, and tonight I’ll probably order another one, or two.  Kish is astonished that I’ve ordered them, because I almost never drink distilled spirits, particularly in fruity concoctions.  Here at the Cocobay Resort, however, the pina coladas are exceptionally good — well-blended, carefully made, and not knee-buckling in their strength.  They go down easy after a hard day of beach walking, snoozing in the sun, reading, and snapping a few photos.

The Mountains In Summer

When the hot summer months hit — and they’ve definitely hit much of America, which is broiling under a hot sun and a stifling heat wave — our thoughts naturally turn to summer vacation.  For most Americans, that means a trip to a beach, or a lake, or some other water-bound destination where swimming will be a big part of the vacation activities.

It didn’t use to be that way.  Long ago, summer vacations were designed to get away from the heat, rather than seek it out.  For many Americans, that meant going up into the mountains to enjoy the cool air and breathe deep the scent of pine.

Somewhere along the way, however, trips to the mountains were eclipsed by the lure of the sand and the scent of suntan lotion.  That’s too bad.  Speaking as someone who has just returned from a trip to the mountains in Whistler, British Columbia, I would recommend a mountain vacation to anyone.

Our trip to Whistler was beautiful and refreshing.  The temperature during the day was in the 60s, and at night in the high 40s and low 50s.  A morning walk was a brisk experience and chance to gulp down cool, fresh air.  You could sleep at night with the windows open, and walk around during the day without becoming drenched in the sticky, cocoa butter-infused sweat of the beach.

With the emphasis on skin cancer and the aging effects of constant tanning, perhaps the summer trip to the mountains will make a comeback.  The only downside I can see is the shock to the system when you land back home, walk outside, and gasp at your first encounter with the 90-degree wall of heat.