Dad’s Beach Vacation

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While growing up, my three brothers, The Sister and I went on a beach vacation almost every year. I say “almost” because the first year we moved into our new house at 110 Flamingo Street, we didn’t go anywhere. The next year (and every year after) was different because of our mom.

The summer I turned seven years old, Mom wanted us all to go on a family beach vacation. By then it had almost been two years since we had gone anywhere. I knew this because I’d heard my parents talking about the subject for weeks even before we got out of school for the summer.

Dad’s argument was logical. He said we didn’t have the money and he had to work. Mom’s counterargument was equally reasonable. We all needed to get away and have some family fun. When we got out of school at the end of May, we didn’t go on vacation. All of June we stayed home and most of July too. With summer ending, our mom had had enough

It was the last week of summer, and early Saturday morning, Dad went to work as usual. Mom started to pack. When he got home for lunch, he found the car packed and all of us sitting in it. Mom told him he could keep working, but the rest of us were going on a vacation.

Dad got into the car and drove us all to the beach for the very first time. This was a wise choice because as we drove out of our driveway, Mom told him so.

For the next six years we spent living on Flamingo, I remember Dad driving us to the beach each summer. Strangely, I have only one memory of him actually spending time “at” the beach with the rest of us. I’ve always thought this was odd because I can remember most everything about growing up. Why I can remember Dad being at the beach only once, I never understood. Last week that question was finally answered when The Wife and I packed up the Girly Girls and drove to our very own beach vacation.

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived on Jekyll Island, and our two granddaughters wanted to go straight to the beach. Still too early for hotel check-in, we parked at one of the many beach accesses, and under a clear blue sky with the sound of waves crashing just ahead, The Wife and I walked slowly across the elevated walkway over sandy dunes. After all, we’d been up early packing, and it had been a long six-hour drive.

By the time we reached the beach, the Girly Girls were already playing in a large tidal pool, giggling, chasing crabs, and splashing water everywhere and getting the clothes they promised not to get wet, wet. The Wife said, “Looks like we need to get towels from the car,” and by we, I knew she meant me.

Up twelve steps, across the boardwalk above the dunes I went. Fighting off a swarm of “no-see-ums” along the way, I retrieved two towels and returned to the beach to find the girls trying to dig a moat with a stick.

After an hour of digging, sandcastle building, and crab hunting, snack and drinks were in order. Unfortunately, the drinks and snacks we had brought with us were all gone. So back up what seemed like much steeper steps, I went. Again, fighting off the waiting swarms of no-see-ums, I finally found my way back to the car and drove to the small island market.

Returning with snacks and drinks, the girls were reinvigorated and played another hour before reluctantly saying goodbye and leaving the beach to their newly found crab playmates. I thought it was a perfect beach day, but I was proven wrong in the morning.

The next day the weather, ocean, and beach were even better. A constant breeze kept the ever-growing swarms of no-see-ums at bay, and we stayed on the beach all day. With hours on the beach come with many trips throughout the day to the car and island market store.

First, we needed a cooler for drinks, a new beach umbrella, then beach chairs, more drinks, more snacks, digging tools along with buckets and a crab net. The local pizza place wouldn’t deliver to the beach, so a lunch trip was also made.

During our five days, The Wife made as many trips up the steps and to the island store as I did. We finally left the beach with a few shells in our car and so many no-see-ums that the girly girls were entertained for hours trying to swat them.

Now I know why the one memory I have of my dad being on the beach with us was him asleep in a lounge chair under an umbrella. He was worn out from driving to the beach for eight hours, then going to the store, back to the hotel and to the beach supply hut for everything us five kids wanted. Once back home, The Wife and I felt the same way. It had been one of the nicest but most exhausting times we’d ever had.

We waved to the girls as their mom drove off with them after they’d been with us for eight days. Walking back inside we fell into comfy chairs and put our feet up. We looked over at the suitcases with dirty laundry inside still needing to be washed and put away. At that moment, The Wife and I agreed. We both needed a vacation from our vacation.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]