I didn’t grow up going to the beach. Oh, we have beach here in Washington state. Miles and miles of it. Contrary to what some people might think, Seattle is not actually on the coast. I like to think of our state in the shape of a square root sign. Seattle is in the “v” of that sign on Puget Sound. If you want to get to the ocean, you have to drive south and then west across the Olympic peninsula. After about 2 1/2 hours, you reach the Pacific Ocean. It’s beautiful and it’s cold.
The towns out there aren’t all that nice so when we would go to the coast, we would actually head to Oregon. The entire coast line of that gigantic state is public beach and it is absolutely breathtaking. You may have seen photographs of Haystack Rock, a 235 foot monolith sitting just a few feet from the shore – that’s in Cannon Beach and that is where my family usually stayed. We went there for the beauty, we went for long walks on the beach, we didn’t go there to swim.
One year my brother Alex was in a small sailboat that tipped over in Puget Sound. He had on a life jacket and was rescued about 20 minutes after he went in. He got hypothermia. This was in August. If the water in the Sound is that cold, imagine the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. No, we don’t swim out here on this coast.
My mom always says one of the hardest things about leaving New York to move to Seattle was not going to the beach in the summer. Jones Beach was a big part of her childhood. In my childhood, aside from a few trips to Hawaii, most of our warm weather vacations involved a pool. Actually, come to think of it, most of our vacations were spent skiing. Not a lot of beach when you are skiing.
In contrast, Randy and his family would head to the Maryland shore every summer. Almost his entire extended family (and they are Catholic so there are a lot of them) lives in Baltimore and they would all descend on Ocean City for the week around July 4th to rent various houses. Randy’s immediate family didn’t live in the area, so this was a chance for them to all reconnect. Randy doesn’t have much of a memory, but there are lots of things he remembers about going to the beach. He feels strongly that we go every few years so our children can build some of these same memories.
I’m happy to go. I love this large extended family. I love how his uncle Dan goes down early in the morning and stakes out territory with all kinds of umbrellas and fancy folding chairs. This year we were 55 people so that is a lot of space to stake out. I love the warm sun and the sea air. I can’t say I love the sand, but I’m getting used to it. I love the lazy day that involves nothing more than meals and walking to and from the beach. Happy hour starts early and the nights go late. There is always singing and guitar playing involved which creates some anxiety for me, but once I get my first song over with, I’m usually ready to sing more. It’s a really nice vacation. Before we left, we were thinking we would go every third year. Once we got there (we were at Bethany Beach which is actually in Delaware), I told Randy I thought we should make it every other year. I’m already looking forward to next time.
A word about the above photo. My mother-in-law likes to have photos. Not just a snapshot, although she likes those as well. There are lots of photos of Randy and his sisters growing up posed in their Sunday finest. It’s actually very sweet. Somehow I didn’t get the memo that there would be a photo this year so I didn’t pack appropriate clothes for the boys. Actually, I don’t even know if I have appropriate clothes for the boys – we live in Seattle after all. So, while I was out sunning myself, Randy took the boys to a cute shop in town and bought them these super preppy and totally adorable outfits. He never ceases to amaze me.
For those of you who are wondering when-oh-when I will get back to talking about food…soon, I promise. Just need to shake the sand out of my suitcase.