Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mountains or Beach?

by Jeanne Pickering Adams

You've all heard people say it, I know I have. It's either "I love the beach!" or "Ugh, I hate the beach, let's go to the mountains." It seems that everyone has their favorite and the opposite is to be vilified and despised. I'm a mountain girl, through and through. Alas, I'm currently at the beach.

Among the many reasons I'm not a "beach girl" are that I'm fair skinned and burn easily, and the heat (WHY are we here in late July?) just disables me for days if I stay out too long and, last but not least, I'm a tenderfoot, so walking on the sand littered with crunchy shells and seaweed is pretty much torture.

So you might well ask why the heck I'm at the beach. Well, it's all about love. My husband and sons are beach lovers. So are their cousins and my brother and sister-in-law. Since I love them, I'm steadily, year by year, working on loving the beach experience. :> They are ecstatically surfing/boogie boarding and soaking in the rays. I'm in an Internet cafe talking to you. Trust me, we're all happier that way. Thankfully, the Delaware town in which we're staying, namely Bethany Beach, HAS an Internet cafe. (There's no phone or internet at the newly-renovated house in which we're staying.) This way I'm connected to my writing pals, my friends and family, so despite the heat and the "beachness" of it all, I'm content.

In fact, for all that I really dislike the beach, I can find a lot about which to be happy. This is one of the great times of year where I get to hang out with my husband for extended periods of time. My brother and sister-in-law will watch our boys and let us go for a walk or catch a movie without it costing us $100. (Babysitters and movie tickets are expensive in DC) The boys are in heaven because they get to play with their cousins, act macho, run wild, scream, yell, chase gulls, and eat BBQ from the grill. We grill at home, but somehow, it's just better at the beach, according to my sons. Then there's the ice cream.

It's a family tradition that every night we all walk to a specific ice cream place and eat a variety of weird flavors or sprinkles. Just because. To my joy, my sons are building memories of shared fun, creating relationships with their cousins who live far enough away that we don't see them often, and growing wiser and stronger every day.

My eldest son is learning to boogie board, tutored by his proud and knowing older cousins. My younger son is enthralled with the ability to dig large, messy holes in the sand without getting fussed at for ruining a flower bed or anything else. He's in heaven. My husband doesn't have to do anything but play with his sons, take walks with me, and finish leftover ice cream cones the boys can't manage. No pesky work. He's in heaven too.

So, even though I'm at the (ugh) beach, even though I wilt in the heat and don't leave the house much except after dark, I'm in heaven too. Watching them explore, hearing about their exploits - which they proudly recount in great detail - makes the experience magical.

What are some of your magic moments? Are you a beach or mountain gal/guy? Did you ever vacation with your family and extended family, and if so, where? What did YOU do on your summer vacation?


Donna MacMeans said...


I can't believe you're at Bethany Beach! We used to have family reunions there for years. I have some very good friends there right now, probably playing volleyball on the beach. GO out and shout - "anyone know Donna MacMeans" by the court and see what happens (grin).

My son, who is now 22, has wonderful membories of our times there. He recently metioned that he remembered eating steamed crabs on newspeaper at Bethany. I'm afraid we don't get a lot of crab here in Ohio (sigh). He also has memories of that rinky-dink tourist trap - Frontier Town - down past Ocean City. Things look a whole lot more authentic when viewed through the eyes of a 6 year old. I'm jealous. Wish I was there listening to the sound of the ocean. We don't get that too much in Ohio either.

Anna Campbell said...

Jeanne, you'll groan but I'm absolutely, positively a beach gal. I was such a klutz at any sport in the world (hmm, maybe this should go in Jo's high school post) but strangely I was always incredibly confident in the water. To the point where one of my friends once asked me with real puzzlement how I could be so awkward on dry land and so great in the water. Perhaps I was a walrus in a previous life! Awk! Hmm, this is definitely sounding like it belongs with Jo's post! Mountains? Slopes? Rocks? Fall? Hurties! Water? Floating and fun! All our family holidays were beach holidays so just being near the seaside makes me happy because of those memories. And those beach holidays were when I discovered a lot of my favorite romance novels. Remember getting burnt to a crisp because I couldn't put The Flame and the Flower down, for example! When people say that book was hot, I don't think that's what they mean! Enjoy the rest of your holiday! Love the descriptions of the boys running wild and loving it!

Anna x

Caren Crane said...

As a kid in landlocked Tennessee, my family vacationed at both the beach (panhandle of Florida) and in the mountains (much closer to home). Of course, we were poor, so we camped at the beach and in the mountains. For a week at a time. With 5 stair-stepped children. My poor mother, I don't know how she survived!

I am fair, like Jeanne, and cannot abide the sun for more than ten minutes at a time wearing 50 SPF sunblock. So, I'm a mountain girl. My favorite thing is hiking and just sitting in the woods. I love the woods in fall and the smell of ripe persimmons is a wonderful olfactory memory for me. Bring on autumn!

I, too, take pleasure in my family's enjoyment of the beach. My husband and kids adore it! So, we go for them, not for me. Be strong, Jeanne. Maybe they will return the favor, Jeanne, and you can drag them to the mountains. Nice long hike, anyone? *g*

Cassondra said...


So that's where you are! I'd begun to wonder. And I'm SO envious. Okay, maybe not the beach in July--well, although it IS up north, so that'd be better.

I am BOTH. I crave the mountains, and I crave the beach, especially around October, I start to NEED it. And the funny thing is, my farm family never took a vacation--not once while I was growing up. Summer was busy with farm work, and I never missed it. Never longed to leave the country where I lived. But now, with adult responsibilities, the crunch of feeling always, always behind, plus the slight clinical depression that overtakes me when the days grow short..yeah, I admit it. I DREAM of the beach. A week or two in fall or late winter, walking barefoot in swishy skirts pulled over nothing but a swimsuit--open air restaurants where there is no sign that says "no shoes, no service" FRESH seafood, oh yes, and key lime pie with meringue three times as tall as the pie.

The mountains in summer. I am first a farm girl, second a mountain woman for certain.

But in winter...I have a palm tree in my soul. Ahhhh.

Have fun--and explore writing on the balcony at night when everyone else is asleep and you can hear the waves crashing in. It's a surefire cure for busting through a block.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Personally, I'm a Disney World girl. We lived less than 2 hours from there for about 6 years as the kids were growing up. We took them once or twice a year and had great fun.

Growing up in Ohio, we visited my grandparents in the Blue Ridge of Tennessee every year, some times twice. I love the smell of the Smokey mountains, and watching the rain come over the mountain toward the house while sitting on the front porch. We climbed mountains, fished in the Nolichucky River, milked cows, fed chickens and had great fun.

Then after I got married, my husband and I spent some glorious summer vacations at beach houses on Duck Island, NC and the Atlantic coast of Florida. I love walking on the beach, collecting shells, playing surf tag with the little kids, and helping the older ones learn to body surf. I tan so easily, I have to remember to put on sun screen.

I guess I just LOVE vacations!

Christie Kelley said...

Ahh, Bethany Beach. I kind of miss the place. We used to take summer vacations there with my sisters and their kids. About 18 of us all together. I do like the beach but in small amounts. I much prefer a 3 day weekend there than an entire week.

After spending a week in Yellowstone and the Grand Titons this year, I do think I'm more a mountain girl. My husband and I used to live in Virginia Beach and I love the beach from late fall through early spring. But I hate the crowds in the summer.

What my husband and I both enjoy is doing something different each year. We really got burned out going to the beach every year. Next year we are thinking about doing the Grand Canyon.

Donna, I can crab off the pier in my community and bring them up to the house and steam them right up. You'll have to make a trip to MD sometime. We'll go crabbing.

Joan said...

I'm with Suz. Vacations in general are for me!

I adore DisneyWorld too and have visited about 9 times in the past 8 years. The only beaches there are faux ones but coupled with the Florida sun (and my Irish SPF lathered skin) worked out fine.

But this past May, I went to my goddaughter's wedding at St. George Island, FL. Nothing there but rental houses (luxurious rental houses) and the beach. In the four days I was there I did nothing but lounge on the beach or by the pool. Throw on some clothes and go eat fresh fish and drink by the ocean and hang out with my extended "family". It was great.

Until the sand fleas had a smorgsbord on my legs. (scratch, scratch)

And the mountains. I went to Gatlinburg in the Smokies and loved the green, lush beauty. We stayed in a hotel next to a rushing mountain stream and I was determined to see a bear.

I looked and looked and no bears.

My friend and I drove up along the mountain trails and had to stop at a campsite for directions. Mind you, I'm still on the look out for Yogi. She came back looking a bit pale and told me the office had a display of "what happens when bears and humans interact" which included four fang holes in a super large tin of baked beans.

She wouldn't go bear looking with me anymore :-(

Trish Milburn said...

I too love both. In the summer, it's great to go up to the Smoky Mountains or even out west to the Rockies or Cascades. Simply stunning and I can handle the temps in the mountains then. The opposite in the winter -- love going to the beach down in Florida where it's warm when it's cold here. If I were like stinking rich, I'd have a place in Montana or Wyoming around Yellowstone National Park and then a beach-front house in Florida for winters.

Trish Milburn said...

And, btw, I like the desert Southwest a great deal too -- again when the temperature isn't such that it's a health hazard.

Aunty Cindy said...

I'm with you Suz, I LOVE VACATIONS! I guess, technically I'm into "foreign locales" whether beach, mountains, or something in between! You all know I've been on a cruise kick lately, so quite a few beaches are involved in that. And yes, I burn even with SPF 45 slathered all over. And no, I don't really swim, especially in the ocean (there are CREEPY THINGS in there!). But I still LOVE the beach!

Luckily I live an equal distance from the ocean and the mountains, so I can get to either within two hours WHEN the roads are open (snow or fog can close them either direction).

Camping is TOTALLY NOT my thing, Aunty MUST HAVE her electricity and flush toilet! But like you, Caren, we were poor when I was growing up so it was camping or nothing. :-( I don't have any particularly "fond" memories of early vacations. All my really GREAT memories are the travel the DH and I have done in the past decade or so...Europe, Hawaii, Australia, Asia... They are ALL WONDERFUL!

Hang in there Jeanne and soak up that R&R no matter WHERE you are!


jo lewis-robertson said...

Jeanne, I love your sons!!! I'm so a beach-bunny. Nothing's better to me than lying on the beach with a good book, falling asleep with the sun beating on my face or back.

The beaches here in Northern California are NOT true beaches, in my opinion, but I love them anyway. I grew up on Virginia beaches with the fine white sand.

Alas, I've given up the beach because my poor skin can't take the damage and I don't want to look like a saddle bag by the time I'm 70.

Kate Carlisle said...

Definitely a beach girl here! I live a few blocks from the beach in SoCal and we try to walk there every weekend. For me, it's not about the heat or the sand or the crowds, it's all about watching the waves and feeling the breeze. It's so rejuvenating -- which is why I look so young. *snort!*

But I'm totally with you on the heat issue, Jeanne. I go absolutely nuts in the heat. I could never live in the desert!

Donna MacMeans said...

Christie -

Steamed Crabs (yum!) I might have to take you up on your offer. You know I'm a Maryland girl, born and bred (and crab-deprived here in Ohio.)

Caren Crane said...

Aunty C, you're back! We have missed you dreadfully in the Bandits Lair. It's so very quiet when you're off cruising!

I must say that my idea of "going to the beach" is staying in a condo on Hilton Head island. Really, you have to ride a bike or drive a mile from our place to the beach and it's in a privated golf course community.

We call it "Cary By The Sea", because it's just like an upscale suburb with a beach. Great shopping, great restaurants, fast food, drug stores, outlet stores, malls. Just like home! But with huge live oaks draped in Spanish Moss. Gawgeous!

That Aunty C, is how Caren goes to the beach these days. No more camping with the sand fleas for me!

Helen said...

Beach girl here but I love any holiday and visiting new places most of my memories of holidays as a child were at the beach with cousins grandparents aunty's and uncle's and my hubby and I used to take our children on holidays at the beach fishing swimming walking on the beach collecting shells and having heaps of fun great place to relax in the shade with a good book.
Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Another holiday gal here!

One of the great things about our posting here in the US is our ability to travel around and see so much of your beautiful country. Adding trips onto writing conferences has been a neat way to kill two birds etc etc. And see places we perhaps might have missed. The only problem is fitting it all in before we have to go home (Thank goodness Nationals is in SF next year!)

Aside from that, I'm a complete beach bunny. Love those rays! Love warm, clear water. Luckily hubby is as happy lying on a beach, reading a book as I am. *grin* We're off to Bermuda on Thursday for my birthday!

Enjoy your holiday, Jeanne.

Christine Wells said...

I'm a beach girl, all the way, Jeanne! I love the heat, surf and sand. LOVE it! Can't wait until my boys are the ages yours are and we can spend lots of time swimming and doing all those other cool beach activities.

You'll laugh when you hear the name of the beach we go to for summer holidays. Dicky Beach! It was named after a ship that was wrecked there--very unfortunate. To me, it's the best place in the world.

MaryF said...

Sounds wonderful - I'm a beach gal. My son is a beach guy. My dh, not so much.