The summer of 2011 was drawing to a close. I had been living in rural Missouri for five years and was truly missing the beach. My mother, who is somewhat of a free spirit, is a teacher and was facing the end of her long vacation from teaching. Not knowing how she would react, I approached her with the request that we take our last three days of vacation and head for the beach. It was like spontaneous combustion! BOOM! Our bags were packed and we were on the road for an adventure of a lifetime.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
We printed a mapquest map leading us from our house to Gulfport, Mississippi. Our only planned activity was to drive to the beach and see what we found there. We would find a place to stay and figure out what we would do when we arrived. Then my mom handed me the keys. My heart skipped a beat! Was she really going to let a fifteen-year old kid who had just obtained his learner’s permit drive to the beach? I saw the smirk on her face and the twinkle in her eye and I knew that she was.
When we arrived in Gulfport, I saw the perfect place to stay, a Holiday Inn that was located next-door to Hooters’ Restaurant. Immediately I had a new interpretation for the term “room with a view.” To my surprise, my mother agreed to stay there. She was even a good sport and took me to dinner at Hooters that evening. So far this had been a trip that seemed like a dream-come-true. That evening we cruised Gulfport Beach and Biloxi Beach and took in the sights and the smells of the beaches.
The next morning we set out on a mission to find a boiled peanut stand. That was a sight I had not seen since I moved from Georgia. We purchased a huge tub of hot, fresh peanuts and took them to the beach. Sitting on the beach, eating boiled peanuts seemed so close to Heaven that I could almost hear the angels sing.
While we were at the beach, we saw an advertisement for Ship Island. The island hosts an old fort there. Suddenly it seemed that my heavenly trip could take a wicked turn. Surely we would not head out for an educational adventure the last day there! In a couple of days I would be starting another school year and was not planning to start my education any earlier than that. My mother said that she had gone to Hooters with me and that I could go to the island with her. It did not seem like a fair deal to me, but I agreed to it.
The barrier island turned out to be one of the most awesome parts of the trip. The sandy beach was terrific and the water was great for a boogie board. The remnants of Fort Massachusetts turned out to be interesting and the tour guide was entertaining. Most of the fort was still in tact and I enjoyed touring through it.
Normally, traveling home is the worst part of a trip. But once again, getting to drive for hours when you have just received your permit, is a thrill. Our spur-of-the-moment trip was just a matter of hours from being over, but it would remain in my heart and in my memory forever.
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