Saturday, July 16, 2011


Four days and three nights on Florida's Gulf Coast. My sister and I had been planning the trip since February. I'd never been to Florida for a vacation, though I've been to a few beaches in my life -- Caribbean beaches on a cruise, the beach at Santa Monica in California last year, another LA beach on a family trip to California when I was a kid.

But when we arrived, the vastness of the ocean (er, Gulf of Mexico) still startled me. I sat on my beach towel on the white sand and just stared for a long time at the constant rush of waves, the whitecaps, the sea birds, the occasional fish jumping out of the water.

Then I had to go up and touch the water. I got in ankle-deep at first. A wave would wash up. As it washed away I could feel the wet sand sliding away under my feet. I got closer and took a look at what the wave was bringing in: groups of small fish, sand, shells, sea weed. Thankfully no trash and no jellyfish.

Eventually I sat back on my towel and started building a sand castle, collecting sea shells, and getting even more tan.

Yes, the beach was as wonderful as I could imagine.

It was also absolutely wonderful to stay at a place where you could fall asleep listening to the waves. The B&B was amazing.

Not so wonderful was the weather -- a rain storm continued for most of the day Monday. The weather finally cleared up in late afternoon and my sister and I ventured down to the inn's beach.

I brought my O magazine and came across a poem appropriate for the occasion: "Exultation is the going / Of an inland soul to sea..."

Yes, something like that. Hard to come back home knowing such a beautiful place is out there. I brought back a few shells, some white sand that lingered in my shoes and about a million photos reminding me there is joy and awe and wonder on the beach.

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