Tuesday, July 15, 2008
(Just look at those cuties! McKenna holding Sydney when she was just over a year old. We have some wonderful beach memories!)
The Official Cheryl Wray Countdown to the Beach!
And we are officially at Six Days and Counting!!
(Gary, Delaney, Sydney, and McKenna will actually be putting their sweet little toesies into the Atlantic Ocean sand in five days, but I won't be there until a day afterwards...so, since this is the Cheryl countdown it's staying at six for me. LOL)
I actually have a fun post planned for everyday for the rest of this week that fits in with this "Countdown to the Beach" theme because, well, I'm just a TAD bit excited about getting there. I love the beach...the sand, the breeze, the sun, the music, the food, the pina coladas, the everything about it.
We are heading to a new beach--at least to us. Because we are going to the World Series in Maryland (the games will actually be held in Salisbury), we decided to combine it with a trip to the beach. So, we will be staying for an entire week in Ocean City, Maryland, and from the looks of what I have researched online, OC seems like a pretty cool place. It's got miles of sand, and a boardwalk, and some good looking food, and our hotel actually has waitress service on the beach ("Maam, can you bring me another pina colada please?" Awww, I can imagine it already!).
Anticipating this trip, though, made me think of some of the other beaches I love. So, here for your Random Tuesday enjoyment, is a countdown of my 5 Favorite Beaches (or Beach Trips).
5. Panama City Beach, Florida
If you live anywhere in or near the southern United States, this is probably the beach you visit the most. And for good reason. It has beautiful white beaches, clear water, and the most fun you can have on a stretch of land than you can imagine (bungee jumping, putt-putt golfing, go-karting, shopping, eating).
It's a great beach to go to with friends, and we've done that several times over the years. (You might remember all the fun we had in PC last Summer when Delaney's World Series was held there.)
And if the sand works great for building sand castles, it gets high marks in our family...
(look at how little Sydney is there. If you look close enough, you can see her sucking away on her pacifier. She wouldn't even let go of it on the beach!)
4. Acapulco, Mexico
Acapulco makes the list primarily because it was my first visit to an "exotic" beach (before it, I had only been to the Texas and the Florida gulf coast). I went there as part of a trip with my high school Spanish club when I was only fifteen-years-old and I thought I was something else. We didn't even spend a lot of time on the beach, but I certainly remember how gorgeous it was from our hotel room. (The hotel was the Copacabana, and I remember giggling and laughing and traipsing around to the Barry Manilow song of the same name.)
That trip gave me a glimpse into the real joys of travel... seeing something completely new to you, experiencing a different culture, realizing how very big the world is and how much there is out there to see. I also remember some things that weren't so deep, but were still eye-opening: that Hispanics have a thing for blondes (I was "proposed" to numerous times), that I could actually have a semi-conversation in another language, and that there are people idiotic enough to jump from cliffs...
3. Tybee Island, Georgia
This, surprisingly, has become one of our very favorite family destinations. We simply "happened" upon this beach one summer when we had a trip planned to Plains and Savannah, Georgia. Instead of staying in Savannah, we decided to also have a beach trip and booked a room in the unknown Tybee Island. At first we were a little slow to adjust to it. As opposed to the beaches we knew better in Florida and Alabama, there were very few modern condominiums, no amusement parks or putt-putt golf courses, and just two or three good-sized restaurants. Instead, there were small little cafes, and a neighborhood IGA grocery store, and a hotel that was a little more "rustic" than we were used to.
But do you know what? Pretty soon, we discovered that we loved the town for all of those things that we thought we might dislike it for. The small-town feel, the unpretentious local spots, and the relaxing "I have nothing to do today except hang out at the beach" attitude became instantly contagious. (And when I asked McKenna and Delaney last night what their favorite beaches were, Tybee Island was their instant answer.)
When we first visited Tybee Island, we were taken aback by the beach. No sandy, white beaches; and the beach was much wider than we'd ever seen...
But the girls quickly decided that they loved the big waves you got there. They were much bigger than they'd ever seen on the Gulf...
If you can imagine this...
being your own personal backyard, then I guess you can imagine why Aruba is almost my #1 beach in the world (that I've visited, at least!). Gary and I went to Aruba on our honeymoon and this was the view from our "backyard" at our all-inclusive resort. I've never seen water anything like it there. You could see forever in it; blue as the sky; just unbelievable!
It didn't hurt, of course, that we were thin and tan, energetic and adventurous, and massively in-love. The drinks were sweeter, the pineapple was juicier, and the nights were longer. And, therefore, Aruba has a very special place in my (and our) heart/s.
Aruba is also high on my list because of the variety of shoreline beauty you find on the island. On one side of the island you find the white sandy beaches like in the first picture. On the other side of the island, you find rustic, rough, rocky beaches like this one...
The contrast made it all the more beautiful.
(And a fun story about this "other" side of the island: One afternoon, we rented a little Jeep to go exploring around the island. We found ourselves on the rocky side of the island and were enthralled by the beach and the water. We walked on the beach, and frolicked in the water for a while. We were quite proud of our adventurous spirit...until we came back to the hotel and were told that sharks infest all the waters on the opposite side of the island. Apparently, we were lucky to not have been attacked. We laughed about the possible headlines: "Skinny Dipping Newlyweds Found Mauled by Sharks.")
1. Gulf Shores, Alabama.
It's a bit ironic that my favorite beach is also the closest to my home. People from other parts of the world (or even the United States) are usually surprised when they hear that some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere are on the Gulf coast of Alabama. Just down the road is Florida, and some of its more famous beaches, but in Alabama are some more laid-back beaches (Orange Beach, Gulf Shores) that are absolutely beautiful.
And Gulf Shores is my personal favorite. Great walking beaches, quiet streets, romantic spots (Gary and I have done of our share of kissing in that town!), great clubs (the Florbama is a classic club/dive that you have to experience at least once), and great food (including our favorite gumbo anywhere at Sea & Sand right there at the pier) The beach is white as snow (in fact, of all the beaches I've been to--and I can add Jamaica to the list as well, even though it wasn't a favorite!--it's the whitest I've seen!), and the atmosphere is one that combines the personality of a laid-back beach bum with a genteel, hospitable Southern belle.
I love to try new places...explore in a town I've never visited before...go somewhere unexpected...but Gary would be happy going to Gulf Shores every year. Maybe someday soon we'll be able to again!
In the meantime, here are two pictures that show you the glorious sand you find in Gulf Shores (and look at how young those cutie patooties are. And, yes, I'm including Gary in that description!)...
[And, for the record...I asked everyone in the family the question, "What's your favorite beach?" I already mentioned that McKenna and Delaney both said Tybee Island was their favorite. But Sydney? She answered, "Visionland" (this is a water park three miles from our house, and it has a beach and wave pool). How about that for an answer? I tried to ask Gary, but he was asleep on the couch. I can't blame him, since it was 1:00 am by the time I got this written. So, if he reads this sometime today he can add his comment and I will edit this section to add his favorite. LOL]
I have loved all of these beaches, and dream of the beaches I've yet to see. I want to go to Hawaii someday (a bit predictable, yes, but I've heard it's beautiful); I'd love to see the Australian seashore; and anything in Europe is all right with me.
But for now...we are looking forward to experiencing a new American beach for ourselves. It's an adventure I can hardly wait for...in fact, if I strain hard enough right now, I can hear the breeze blowing over the sand and smell the salt in the air. Six more days, Cheryl, six more days.
(And if you want to go ahead and make this post a Random Tuesday post...go ahead and get involved by sharing with us all: What is your favorite beach? I'd love to know. It will give me more balmy winds and sugarwhite beaches to daydream about today and dream about tonight.)