Author: Amy Dollahite
. Strolling casually along the warm water’s edge, the gritty sand gently grabs my feet. Reflecting off the waves rolling onto the shoreline, the sun illuminates shells in the shallow surf. Delivering a whiff of a dead fish, the constant breeze fills the depths of my lungs. Hearing the distant caw of seagulls over the crash of the waves, my ears forget the sounds of sibling squabbles. Hanging in the humid air, the salt leaves a distinct taste on my taste buds.
I awaken to another four hours of travel time before we reach Navarre Beach, Florida. As we have for the past several summers, my family travels across three states to our favorite vacation spot. In an SUV full of four growing, hormonal teenagers and one precocious preteen, arguments arise over which movie to watch. Boys demand bloody war films. Girls yearn for romantic, unrealistic chick flicks. A voice yells from the back, “It’s too hot!” Almost simultaneously, someone from a middle seat shouts, “Turn off the air conditioner!” The shrill sound of whining activates our parent’s recorded reply, “Get a blanket; the temperature is not changing!” In addition to the rampant disagreements, the aggravating question, “How much longer before we get there?” pops out of each sibling’s mouth along the ride. Once again, an automatic reply of, “five more minutes” shoots back, whether eleven hours and fifty-nine minutes or literally five minutes remain. Although the long road trip includes unfavorable aspects, arriving at the beach pushes them out of our minds.
After negotiating who gets which room in our temporary home for the week, we kids drop our bags, burst through the sliding back door, race down the steep porch stairs, and climb over the sugary sand dune. Eager to reach the beach, our moods instantly change: soothing peace, happiness, and joy replace frustration. As the week continues, we spend our days resting on colorful beach towels, basking in the warm rays of the bright summer sun.
Visiting the local souvenir shops, my siblings and I noticed a new trend: henna tattoos. We come up with the grand idea of each getting a temporary henna tattoo in hopes of tricking our parents. We put our scheme into action, and laughing the whole time, we grow eager to see our parents’ reactions. Knocking on the front door while bursting with excitement, we jump into our house, surprising our parents. Unfortunately, they did not fall for the trick but instead gave us a typical rolling of the eyes.
The sounds of crystal clear waves, tumbling onto the shore, replay in our minds as we drift to sleep each night. As dusk falls, and the moon and stars in the night sky begin to twinkle, we hastily grab our plastic buckets and cheap flashlights to go crab hunting. Nervously squealing and giggling, we spend hours jumping around trying to catch the speedy ghost crabs. Other nights we go out to eat at local fresh seafood restaurants. Upon entering the Sailor’s Grill, my nose collides with a captivating aroma, making my mouth water. Live music reverberates throughout the scene and I catch myself swaying to the reggae beat.
Going on this trip created an opportunity to experience and learn about a different type of community, a chance to take advantage of quality time with my family, and a way to live for a week with very few worries. Renting this homey, white beach house enabled our family to grasp and hold tight to valuable time spent together through fun activities, relaxation, and many adventures, creating memories along the way.