Thursday, June 25, 2009


So my sister is on "vaca" this week with her family, my Mom and Dad, Nana and Aunt and Uncle. She emailed me last week to see if I wouldn’t mind posting as a guest blogger. I am her younger sister and live in SC. As I have been thinking about what to write, the appropriate thought of the "quintessential" family vacation came to mind since this is why my sister is absent in posting this week. I couldn’t help but be nostalgic about vacations past.

In our family we were fortunate enough to have parents that took us for the week at the beach every year. Most years I think we were lucky enough to have 2 weeks at the beach! Usually we went to northern Ocean City, MD - 136th street to be exact.
We always stayed in the same condo every year and it was always oceanfront. Now we didn’t have a lot of money growing up - but our father worked long hours and saved all year long so that we could all look forward to going to the beach each year. And while we were there we lived it up! Ironically though - my dad didn’t and doesn’t even really like the beach. He would only come for long weekends to get us settled in or to help us pack up because he didn’t want to take too much time off of work and he didn’t care for baking in the sun on the beach all day long. The days he was there with us he made huge country breakfasts. In the afternoons he and my grandfather would make an assortment of snacks and a cooler of bloody marys for the adults and bring it down to the beach.

After a long day of sun and sand we’d all come back to the condo and get ready for the night’s festivities. Traditionally we rotated throughout the same things each year: Jolly Roger on 28th street (where one time they had to stop the apple turnover ride and get me off because I was screaming my head off in fear), 45th street village shopping, Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, the all-you-can-eat Phillips Seafood buffet and always, of course the infamous "boardwalk" in OC -- perhaps my favorite of all of the vacation evenings each year. We’d start out with Thrashers french fries loaded with salt and vinegar - always in the tall paper cup. Then we’d hit Fisher’s popcorn for the buttery caramel delight a little later on. Somewhere during the evening we’d stop at the Candy Kitchen for a box of salt water taffy or mints. Then we’d get some tokens and head to the end of the boardwalk for rides and games. We’d always hit the Kite Loft and get a new rainbow colored windsock or kite to fly on the beach the following day. Walking up to the Kite Loft I always remembered the wooden swirly things twirling in the evening breeze outside the store. Later we’d stroll along the rest of the boardwalk and take in the sights and sounds: the smell of Ban De Soleil and Coppertone sunburn spray; the religious sandman carving his sand creations adorned with colorful lights;
The train going up and down and the "clink clink clink" of it going over the boards; the hoards of people talking about what bathing suit they just found in what store, or what they planned on doing the next day; the gossiping old folks out on the rockers in the old hotels fronting the boardwalk; the delicious smells of various restaurants and pubs along the walk; the seagulls; the waves breaking on the sand - the warm breeze blowing through our hair. I also remember the big sand crawler machines with headlights that drove the length of the beach raking the sand and picking up trash from the day. Inevitably we’d always end up losing my grandfather somewhere along the walk. And each time we’d always find him an hour later in the same place - The Ocean Gallery - as he was a self-made artist and always wanted to see what treasures he could find.

As I got older and my family moved towards the quieter Outer Banks, I was a teenager and didn’t want the quiet. I ventured off family schedule for a few years to go with my best to her grandfather’s home on Monroe Bay in Colonial Beach, VA. For those of you unfamiliar with this beach it is an old sleepy town right where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. It was truly a fabulous adventure for a couple of high school girls wanting a little summer adventure. My friend’s grandfather was a generous guy - he bought a jet-ski for us to use before either of us had our driver’s licenses! He also had long dock off the back of his house along with a pontoon boat. My friend’s Uncle would take us out in the evening for midnight boat rides where we’d gaze at the stars and be amazed at all the glittering phosphorescence in the dark water. There was also a private beach within walking distance of the house. We’d often go there in the day and try our best to upgrade our tans. At night we’d meet friends and have bonfires on that same beach and drink Boonsfarm Strawberry Hill wine. Once we had a good tan going we’d take the jet-ski or drive into town (once my friend got her license and a shiny new red convertible - also from her grandfather). One summer we met some "locals" - - handsome tanned lifeguards that were close in age to us. We ended up befriending these guys and ended up making some long lasting friendships. They came up to our homecoming dances, colleges and even visited us after we moved away from home. We all still keep in touch now. I was so enamored with this little town that I even wrote a high school essay about it which I will share with you now. When I found the essay - it was a little worn around the edges - the corners are folded and the ink is bleeding a bit. But it’s a nice treasure after all these years and it seems like only yesterday. It’s perhaps because of these great memories that I made the decision to be on a permanent vacation and move to Hilton Head Island, SC 11 and ½ years ago.

Enjoy your summer everyone!

Essay from English Class, 1993

Our truck smoothly drove down the route at a quickening pace. The desolate road contained no sign of what lay a few miles away. The sun beamed down on the dark red interior and was radiated throughout the cab of the truck. The radio was playing a variety of classic rock songs. Different country produce stands made a break in the endless empty scenery. A little bridge brought a stagnant smell of the marsh grasses that fluttered in the warm summer breeze.

As we turned down the main street of the mysterious river town, signs dotted the telephone polls and street lights. The signs were made largely of luminous yellow and orange colored strips of fabric which reflected the sunlight onto different antique shop windows. A tarnished silver diner on the corner welcomed the tourists and the townsfolk with a florescent flashing "open sign".

The boardwalk was overgrown with grasses and weeds hiding the ruins of a century-old motel. Broken glass and bottle caps filled in the crevices of the cement sidewalk. The air smelled of salt and of a food stand that was at the end of the walk. Various beach novelty shops waited for customers to buy any of the cheap ugly items that were of no use.

Suddenly, a child’s scream caught my attention. I turned to picture a big, yellow water slide that looked as if it may have been there since the beginning of time. The miniature golf course which lay on the opposite end of the boardwalk revealed splintered, weathered wood, cracked plastic figures and statues, and faded signs advertising the price of a game.

Sounds of water lapping a the rocks and sand surrounded the air as I stepped onto the dock. The floorboards and railings and engravings of people who had strolled down the dock years before. Seagulls flew above the rocks searching for the perfect place to land. I approached the edge of the creaky wooden structure and looked below at the less-than-inviting water. Thousands of jelly fish with mile long tentacles painted the surface. A smell of motor oil and gasoline encircled me as an old fishing boat took off from below carrying a large red dog. The dog ran back and forth on the edge of the boat snapping at the waves as they crashed upon the side. In the distance, I could see the lifeguards sitting in their big white chairs and children romping around in the shore in brightly colored bathing suits and towels. Music and splashing were apparent as some children went down the yellow waterslide. A pink and blue jetski zoomed by at full throttle spraying water. A huge man was driving the ski and he periodically screamed to an orange pontoon boat edging close behind him. As I breathed in deeply to taste the salt air, I thought that this would be the beginning of a wonderful week at Colonial Beach.

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