Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: Postcards from the Past
By Cheri Hardaway
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Raised in a family that did not vacation regularly, my husband’s love for the annual family pilgrimage was as exciting for me as it was for our kids. God created a wonderful world full of awesome places and things to see, and I finally had the chance! Together we traveled the California coastline from Ventura to Monterey Bay, marveling at the breathtaking sights of the Pacific Ocean and giggling at the antics of the sea lions. We visited Chicago, San Francisco, and Nashville, taking in museums, Pier 39, and The Grand Ole Opry. We went snow skiing in New Mexico, testing our ability to remain upright on ice. We saw the Lost Sea in Tennessee, and underground caverns in Texas – and don’t forget the Alamo! We rode horses and went off-roading in the Rocky Mountains. We visited Lookout Mountain, Rock City, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo while in the Smoky Mountains. We took a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. In all our travels, I had never met a place I didn’t like.
One year we couldn’t afford a vacation, so we got season passes for Six Flags. This whet our appetite for the theme park scene. The next year, we drove to Orlando, Florida, and visited Disney World. Our return trip included a stay on the white sandy beaches of the Florida panhandle; the kids were as excited about that as they were about the trip to Disney. In the wee morning hours, we bade Mickey and Minnie good-bye, piled our things into the van, and hit the highway, hoping our early start would insure some extra hours in Florida’s sandbox. The sun was still high in the sky when we arrived. We quickly unpacked, slathered on sunscreen and hit the beach.
For a time, we frolicked in the surf. It was quite enjoyable until a rowdy wave bowled me over, washed my sunglasses away, and knocked my swimsuit top askew, turning me into a spluttering peep show. As I flailed around trying to regain my balance, my husband discreetly tucked me back into my swimsuit, trying hard to stifle his laughter.
I sat near a sand castle trying to remove the burning salt from my eyes and recover from my watery attacker, while the kids became captivated by the giant floating Big Wheels being rented on the beach. In hopes of regaining a small measure of dignity, I encouraged my husband to rent one for the kids and me. As we played innocently, the ‘sea monster’ attacked me once again. The Big Wheel’s paddles were unresponsive and the kids were drifting too far from shore, so I towed them back in, lifeguard style. While doing so, I scraped my leg on an old sunken, slimy concrete pier. As I shrieked and kicked away from it, its seaweed cover wound its tentacles around my ankle, which completely freaked me out. So much for recovering dignity! Thankfully, it was time to go in for the night, leaving us with only one more day to enjoy the beach.
While showering that night, I doctored my concrete ‘bite’ and marveled over the unexpected sand deposits I found on my body. Wounded, sanded, humiliated – I decided to avoid the water completely the following day. Instead, I basked in the sun, gathered sand dollars and sea shells, watched as clouds danced across the sky, and enjoyed the delicious breeze coming off the water. It was a much better day for me, and I imagined I had made peace with the beach.
We were homeward bound when the beach delivered its final blow. Though I had avoided getting burned while having fun in the sun, I brought home a much more unusual souvenir from our trip. It was a red, bumpy rash which caused my forearms to itch unbearably all the way home and into the next week. Desperate to end the insane itching, I saw a doctor who informed me I had sun poisoning.
Though it was fifteen years ago, I still sport ugly brown blotches where that rash formerly existed. The skin on my forearms feels like shoe leather. And from time to time, like a postcard from the past, I will again experience that insufferable itching. The only cure I have found is ice cubes, applied liberally until my nerve endings go numb. I finally found a place I do not like! The beach. Sun, sand, salt and sea. Fun for all – but not for me!
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