WORDS & PHOTOS BY BEN DUNGAN
There are two kinds of vacations: there is the go-see-do kind and then you have the don’t-do-jack kind. I appreciate the adventurous discovery of the former, but I do love the latter more. Especially if it involves sand, salt water and an ocean breeze.
Some vacations wear you out, while some can re-energize. A week-long stay at the beach can recharge your batteries, if you allow it.
The beach means different things to different people. That’s the beauty of it all. Gather the whole extended family under one roof and you’ll learn that pretty quick.
There’s always at least one beach lover in the bunch. This is my mother. Maybe it’s because she grew up going to the beach as a little girl. When my family descends upon the grand strand for a week, she’s the one who wins the award for the most time spent on the actual beach.
For me, a beach vacation is a place to relax. It’s one of the few places I know of where you can take a guilt-free nap every single day. I’m in it for the deck-sitting, the porch-chatting and the breeze-catching. I do make an appearance on the beach each day, but I’m only good for a couple of hours.
Some don’t love the beach. Especially when it involves taking little kids out there. My brother falls into this camp.
Sand and diapers and little kids don’t mix well. Before you know it, you find sand in places you didn’t even know your kid had places. For those parents, the beach is hard work. And not relaxing.
So then, why do we do it? Why do we assemble under one roof for an entire week at the beach?
For the memories. To remember yesterday’s memories. To create tomorrow’s memories.
My grandmother, Mom Wiggins, wasn’t there this summer. She left us back in 2004. But her yellow cake with the thick chocolate icing was there.
For the memories.
My late uncle’s friend, Ro Johnson, wasn’t there either. In fact, I’ve never met him before. But it doesn’t matter. His favorite beach treat was there. And we honor him and his love for the Duchess honey bun on every beach trip we take.
For the memories.
No week-long beach trip is complete without the big family photo. It’s not an easy task to assemble everyone to capture the perfect family photo. But it our case, it’s not perfect. There’s beach hair everywhere and we aren’t wearing the matching outfits. But we do we do it anyways.
For the memories.
This summer’s beach trip doesn’t look like past beach trips. And it won’t look like any future beach trips. Life moves on and evolves. The world spins madly on, just like a beach whirligig blowing in the wind.
Sure, we’d love to have everyone around the beach house dinner table again. We’d rather have Mom Wiggins there instead of her yellow cake with the thick chocolate icing. We’d rather have my Uncle Ed there telling the story of Ro Johnson sneaking honey buns in the middle of the night. But that’s not how life works.
Life does move pretty fast, except at the beach. It moves in slow motion. The beach vacation teaches us to slow down and enjoy the people who are there in that moment.
My dad didn’t grow up going to the beach for a summer vacation as a kid. That’s just not what he and his family did.
Don’t get me wrong. He likes the beach, but doesn’t love it, unless he’s surf fishing.
Even that doesn’t seem to have the same excitement as it once did. The fishing isn’t that good anymore, and it’s sometimes not worth the effort to assemble the rods and haul them all the way out there.
Unless a grandkid wants to fish. Then you do it.
Because even if you don’t catch any fish, you are always guaranteed to catch a memory or two.