The perfect vacation
By MIMI BECKER
Coffee with Mimi
As cold weather has returned just about on schedule, new commercials appear on TV and pop up on internet pages. The ads feature images of white sand, colorful bathing suits, festive restaurant tables with smiling servers. Filmy curtains gently blown by tropical breezes frame balconies and patios overlooking a blue ocean. It’s time to plan your bad-weather escape.
Unless you are a ski enthusiast, you surely will want to go where there is ample sunshine and warm waters. The dream is clear: warmth, blue skies, white sand, balmy breezes.
I love vacations, who doesn’t? Thanks to the thoughtful planning of a family member for several years now, our large Thanksgiving gathering is held at some time other than the fourth Thursday in November. October or September are generally the time for turkey and the important ravioli, along with other family favorites at the homestead table. Since most of the American population observes more conventionally, this opens up the Thanksgiving week to possibilities without abandoning family time or much rearrangement of work commitments.
It’s the beach for us. This tradition is not that old, as it only became possible when I retired and thus had the full week of Thanksgiving free and clear. Coincidentally, my daughter-in-law, a teacher, actually has the week of Thanksgiving off due to the hunting habits of bus drivers in her home state. The administration of the educational system recognizes the reality of deer season, at least that’s their story and they are sticking to it.
Should you think we head for warm waters, you are wrong. Our chosen spot is barely south of our home. Generally, jackets are required a good bit of the day and rarely is it warm enough to dip a toe in the surf washing up on the beach. We go to this spot because it is where we went when we had to vacation in the summer.
Now, we go because we love it.
The island has, like similar island locations, developed as a vacation spot over the years. It is favored by many from the Northeast as it is an easy drive down the coast. “Easy” is a relative term for northerners. In the summer, traffic to get on to the island is beastly. For us, waiting through a change at a stop light is rush hour. For them, it is normal to be parked for extended periods, affording time to surf internet devices while sitting long periods on four-lane highways which feed into a single two-lane road.
In November, getting on the island is like driving across town for us.
Beach vacationing began the year after we closed our catering business and the first summer we had a grandchild. Let’s get a house big enough to accommodate the whole family. Budget reality set in, and a house two rows back was rented for two weeks. Family were invited to come and go as they pleased within the time frame.
If you leaned way out on the balcony on your tippy toes, you could see the ocean. But, you could hear it and the walk to the beach was not more than a couple minutes, even when hauling all the baby paraphernalia.
Everyone cooked. The grocery was quite a drive, as it is located halfway down the island. We weren’t very organized that first year, resulting in a considerable amount of time managing the production of meals, but that added to the adventure as we explored along the way.
We returned to that same house the second summer. Eventually, the fun of driving wore off and we relocated to the town with the grocery. If there were no trees, you could practically see the grocery from the house. Some people make vacation decisions based on night life opportunities. For us, it is access to food options and a house with a well stocked kitchen.
When we changed gears and opted for a Thanksgiving vacation, there was no hesitation. We will go to the beach, the same beach. Preferably close to the same grocery. At the risk of giving away our secrets, you can get a house right on the beach for a whole lot less money in November than in June. You can lie in your bed and watch the ocean. Since lots of people do know the secret, the grocery is well stocked, restaurants are open and there is plenty to do if you so desire. We go to a holiday craft market at the local school every year and visit the local bookstore at least once.
We consider ourselves seasoned beach vacationers. We pack only a duffel bag sized suitcase each. Beach houses come equipped with laundry facilities. There is a dollar store in the same shopping area as the grocery, thus no need to pack common household products. We take a stack of books to read and fishing equipment, dog food and the coffee bean grinder.
Vacation shouldn’t be complicated. Detailed planning and predetermined expectations are like work in a different location. We have an oceanfront house, family are welcome to come and go.