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...

2. Aruba

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.)


Edleen said...

Hi Cheryl! i love all those photos of your girls @ the beach! or was there only one??? hehe...

great photos of wonderful beaches!
haven't got a fave but the ones i've been to like Ko Samui(Thailand), Pangkor(Malaysia), they're quite lovely and Sentosa Beach(Singapore, here) isn't too bad either ;)

hope you'll come visit us one day!
have a fun time!!!

Katrin said...

These pictures made me want to go on a holiday RIGHT NOW. But I still have to wait another two months to go...

The Atlantic in France is always cold with high waves, so it's not my favorite. Spain was ok, just very crowded. So, I guess my favorite beaches in Europe are either the Greek islands or Turkey.

Cheeky said...

I learned to swim at Tybee Island beach - that was the only beach we went to as kids - that's because I have family in Savannah!

Monogram Queen said...

Out of all of those i've only been to Tybee but I love it (and Savannah).

My favorite Beach right now is Oak Island,NC because you can rent a house there for so cheap compared to anywhere else nearby (from NC coast down through GA coast) and the shells are fabulous.
I'd love to live on Sullivans Island,SC though if I had my choice.

Maria said...

Wow...Cheryl, these are fabulous! You make me wish I was on the way to the beach right now! Instead, I am on my way to WORK! :(

WONDERFUL pictures!!!

Cheryl Wray said...

Edleen--See,I knew I'd love the comments I get to the post.SO cool that I'm finding out about other beaches around the world. I can dream of coming to visit Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore someday. Wow!

Katrin--And ditto for you!! I've always dreamed of the Greek Islands.I know they must be beautiful.

Cheeky--How cool is that??

Patti--Oak Island sounds fabulous. I'll have to research that and maybe try a trip there someday.

Maria--Thanks!! And since you are the resident photography queen, I will take that as a compliment. :-) Have a great day!!!

Adrienne said...

Ohhhh you want me to go to the beach RIGHT NOW!!! LOL

Anonymous said...



Mississippi Songbird said...

Oh, Those photos are beautiful.. and don't the children grow up so fast. My lil girl is not so lil anymore. She's is taller than I am..lol
Hope you have many more happy summer beach memories.. Bunches of hugs...

Nina Diane said...

Cheryl, you must at some point, try the Outer Banks of NC....by far the best beach ever! Johnny boy and I have been vacationing there for 30 years now....so you know it must be wonderful!!

Lynilu said...

My favorite beach would probably be .... whatever beach I am at! I love the beaches in the Caribbean in general, but one of the nicest I've been on is privately owned by Holland America Cruise Line, called Half Moon Cay. I have no idea where it is! I just shuffled off the ship with the others and was ferried to the little island for a wonderful day!

Stacy said...

i think a trip for the stone family to the beach is in order !!! thanks for the inspo!!

Disney Scrapper said...

Hey Cheryl I posted my two favorite places. Looking forward to seeing the gulf side next year.

~gkw said...

Aruba followed by Gulf Shores! Pink Pony Club is holding a beer for me!!

Greta Adams said...

Gulf Shores is good but oh how i love Navarre Beach in Florida...simply the best!!

Cheryl Wray said...

Adrienne--You ALREADY had a beach trip this summer and I was extremely jealous about it. :-)

Bobby--Ha ha!!!! I'm sure Gary will appreciate that comment.

Songbird--Yep, McKenna towers over me now. She literally has grown about an inch a month for the last three months. It's crazy!

Nina--I absolutely WANT to go to the Outer Banks.We may have to try that next year. I have heard it is beautiful!!

Lynilu--I'm with you. ANY beach is a good beach. But that Half Moon Cay sounds heavenly!

Cheryl Wray said...

Stacy--LOL Glad I inspired you!

DScrapper--Ooh, fun. I will go check it out!

G--Oh yeah. The Pink Pony Club. How can I forget that place? (Or how about the Waffle House? wink wink)

Greta--I have heard that Navarre Beach is beautiful. I definitely want to try it out too.

You guys have got me wanting to go to the beach even worse now!!! {smile}

Wendster said...

Hi Cheryl!

Thank you so much for visiting! I don't know how I got out of the habit of visiting your blog when I love it so much. Thanks for visiting and reminding me you are here ... and my apologies for my absence.

I just got all caught up on your blog and particularly loved the marble story. I happen to have about 1500 marbles in my shoe box. I kinda expected the guy to say he made a special plan for each and every Saturday, and spent each marble on his "admission" to that special event. Like dropping a marble at the beach ... or at the ball game ... and etc. etc. etc.

Made me think of how I want to spend mine.

I loved your newlywed story of going to the back side of the beaches at Aruba. LOL! Adventurous couple. Good for you. and glad you didn't get eaten by sharks. Yikes!

And your beach countdown made me more appreciative of the fact that I am 10 to 15 minutes from the beach. I can go there whenever I like but I rarely go. Of course, our beaches are kinda filthy. Not like the East coast beaches or the Bahamas. My favorite beach is in Maine. Short Sand Beach. I love the little town by it and the lighthouses.

Happy birthday to your daughter and thanks for the castle cake idea. My daughter's b day is Aug 4th ... maybe I'll use that pattern.

Good to see you and I'll be back.


hippochick said...

Hey Cheryl,

I am a beach lover myself. Living where we do, we rarely get to the beach, but my favorite is Panama City Beach. Were it possible, I would be there now.

I'll just have to live vicariously through you.

~hippo hugs~


Oh I love all your pictures..I'm so happy for you. I LOVE THE BEACH TOO!!!

My favorite..would have to be ...on Oahu..well there a a few favorites. We lived in Hawaii for a little over 3 years. Kailua beach...so so clear and the white sand is just powder. Kaneohe Bay MCB , so so private. Many a morning I found myself being the only one there and Bellows AFB..so private as well and you can camp.
Also in Barbate Spain...lived there too...it's not beautiful...but quite, calm and warm...ahh
I hope you have a wonderful time!!!

Gin said...

Just fabulous, Cheryl. The post and the photographs are wonderful. I hope you have a great trip to the beach.

crazy working mom said...

This is an awesome post! :)

I ♥ the first photo the best. What great memories that you guys have made.

Cheryl Wray said...

Wendy--I actually had gone to visit Susie Q's blog and saw you in the comments section and thought, "I haven't visited Wendster in a while," and so I did. It's great to see you back here!!! Come by any time!

Hippo--Panama City is so much fun, and the beaches are so pretty!! Yes, live vicariously through me...fine with me. :-)

Bonbon--Oh Hawaii...I wish!! I love hearing about it through you, though.

Gin--Thanks!! I know we'll have a good time. We are excited!

Crazy--I LOVE that first picture too. It's one of my favorites of McKenna and Sydney.

skrpndiva said...

Seems so funny to me to have to take a trip to the beach when I can just pack up a cooler and be there in 20 minutes. lol

Hope you have a great time!


Cheryl Wray said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jacquie, why don't you just rub it in? :-)

Redhead Editor said...

You have such a wonderful life. And I know you don't take it for granted. Salisbury is an hour away from St. Michael's, Maryland, which is a neat little town to walk around in (and not far from Sailor Boy's slip where he keeps his sailboat across the bay). I envy your trip to the beach with your wonderful family. Can I come along? I'll watch the girls while you and Gary go out for the evening. How 'bout it?