Back To The Beach

“If we decide to go somewhere on your fall break, where would you choose?”

My kids stopped what they were doing. A Corn Pop dangling from his upper-lip, Trey was speechless for a full 9 seconds. “I’ll give you a choice” I said, “Gatlinburg or the beach”.

Now that’s quite a decision for my kids. The beach is a place we skipped out on this past summer because we (or I) didn’t want to spend a lot of money only to be close to a black oily mess.  My children associate Gatlinburg with shopping, mini-golf, go-carts and eating candy as we watch it being made.

So this was no easy decision.

First, some perspective: my children have never been to the beaches on the Florida panhandle.

I know, I know…but before you pick up the phone to call child protective services, let me explain. When we go to “the beach” we go to Southwest Florida. Every year or so we hop on a plane and fly to Fort Myers, then rent a car to drive to south to Marco Island. My wife grew up there, has family there, and in the summer months it’s off-season there.

My kids do love it but Marco Island has spoiled their idea of what a beach is like. The sand in Marco is hard and with lots of shell-fragments. Nothing like the mounds of snow-white sand I grew up visiting in Alabama and Northwest Florida.

Last year after leaving Marco Island, we had a serious discussion about shaking things up and going to Gulf Shores or Destin. I told them stories about vacations when I was their age and how different the sand and beaches are there. We talked about how much fun it might be to drive instead of fly, take the dog, talk their grandparents into going with us.

I sold them. June 2010 would be our first family vacation on the white beaches that I grew up visiting.

Then the oil.

We kept holding off on going anywhere. We waited to see what would happen, how far the oil would spread. And before we knew it, vacation was over and school started. We could have gone of course, I know that now.

“Gatlinburg or the beach?”

They both said Gatlinburg.

But remember, their idea of ‘the beach’ is limited to about a 200 yard span of sand in south Florida. Mom placed her vote for the ‘beach’ (she always chooses the beach by the way) so the final vote was mine.

I went to Destin, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, or Fort Walton every year as a kid. Some summers we’d go 2 or 3 times. Once I remember sitting around with a couple of buddies and someone said “Let’s go to the beach” and we went.

I thought every beach was as white and sandy as those beaches. My children think every beach is like the ones they’ve seen in Marco Island. This morning as I write this, my 12 year old looked at the picture and asked “Is that sand real?”

Yes it is and for the first time my kids are going to feel it between their toes.

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Oh, I wrote this because we’re pretty excited about going to the beach in a few weeks, but I also write this as part of a contest and I need to include the following sentence.

“This post is part of the TravelingMamas.com Tripapalooza Contest.”

Which, by the way, I found this morning while looking for vacation deals. If you love the beaches of Alabama and NW Florida, you’ll enjoy their website.


2 thoughts on “Back To The Beach

  1. The beaches are so different from place to place. They have always fascinated me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I think we all decided the panhandle beaches are our favorite. This trip may have spoiled my kids from wanting to go back to South Florida again.

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