Many things I was looking forward to have been cancelled due to the pandemic and I’ve dealt with it pretty well. Not getting to go to the beach this summer will probably hit me the hardest though. The trip hasn’t been entirely cancelled yet, but I’m trying to prepare myself for the fact that in order to keep my family healthy it might be best to forego the tradition this year. So please, dear reader, bear with me as I wax nostalgic about beach trips of summers past.
I have loved the beach since I was a small child. I remember the excitement of what I thought of as “getting up in the middle of the night” to leave for the beach. It was actually 5 a.m., but it was still dark and my Dad would practically carry me to the car where Mamma had spread out a beach towel across the seat for a makeshift bed. I would sleep at least halfway until we stopped for breakfast. We went to the Garden City area of South Carolina every summer. As a young child I would often make friends with other children staying at the same group of condos. What fun we would have playing together in the sand and the swimming pool. I would come home with suntanned skin, buckets of shells and trinkets won at the arcade.
There were a few years when I was in college that we didn’t go on a summer beach trip. I guess my parents thought I wouldn’t want to go on a family vacation since I wasn’t a kid anymore. Boy, were they wrong! Finally one summer I asked why we didn’t go to the beach anymore and a new vacation plan was hatched. After college my family started traveling to the Atlantic Beach area in North Carolina. While I loved Garden City and Myrtle Beach as a kid and a teen, as an adult I much prefer the less crowded beaches.
Its funny the little things you remember about vacations of the past. As a kid we not only left at 5 a.m. to go to the beach, we often left nearly that early to go back home. What a bummer! One year at Atlantic Beach, Mamma surprised me by saying we should spend a few more hours at the coast before heading home. We went into Beaufort and shopped and ate lunch before we departed for Yadkin County. That was one of my favorite beach trips.
My honeymoon in Key West ranks up there as probably my favorite vacation. While the beaches on Key West aren’t what I’m used to on the North Carolina coast, it is such a fun town. My husband and I began every morning with cafe con leche and pan Cubano from a place called the Cuban Coffee Queen. At lunch time we’d wash down fresh mahi or conch fritters with rum runners, because hey, in the words of Jimmy Buffet, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
At the Key West Aquarium we got to feed stingrays. My husband joked that I looked more excited about feeding the stingrays than I had a few days prior at our wedding! We petted the six-toed cats at the former home of Ernest Hemingway. Our excursion to the Dry Tortugas was another of our favorite parts of the trip. We talk about returning to Key West often, but day drinking and caring for a toddler don’t mix so that trip will definitely have to wait!
Vacations aren’t quite as relaxing as they once were now that I have a baby. I don’t get to read and stare at the ocean all day anymore. Now I have to make sure my toddler doesn’t toddle off towards the ocean. Watching my son play in the ocean and build sandcastles is pretty amazing though. He loves the beach as much as I do.
Here’s hoping we get a chance to dip our toes in the ocean someday soon!
Kitsey Burns Harrison is a reporter for The Yadkin Ripple. Here she shares her musings on food, life, love and motherhood. She may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.