Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘Beach’

The Scent of the Ocean

Each morning I awake and visit my old friend the coffee pot. After creating the juice of joy, I venture outside to smell the day. Immediately my senses are activated as I take that first deep breath of the outdoors. For the last 5 months, that deep breath has been a salty sort.

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The air breathed at the Oceanside is sweet when you come to love it. It grows on you. It is mixed with salt, natural musk, sand, and a hint of marine life. The breeze is constant from the sea. There’s peace, tranquility, and grace.

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To visit a beach is an experience, but to live here is different. There’s a unique oneness that develops as you give your senses over to something larger than yourself. Being no stranger to beach side vacations, I used to think I understood the Sea. Only recently have I truly tuned in though.

Almost everyone I’ve ever known who’s been to the ocean declares, “I want to live here!” Some people even begin to look at real-estate as they dream of one day moving. They have in their minds that living here would be full of relaxation and everyday spent on the beach. Smiling, watching kids play & bury each other in sand, and applying sunscreen again while chilling with a Sangria.

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Reality of living here though is much different. We seek out the places few tourist go and avoid the downtown tourist traps like the plaque. It’s not possible to go to the beach everyday. Some days the beaches are closed due to the massive rip currents that tear away at the beach line, other days it is too cold. (Yes, even Florida is somewhat affected by the weather.) On extremely windy days, which come often, it’s painful to walk on the beach as there’s sand in that wind. If you ever get beach side sand blasted, it goes a few degrees beyond exfoliation. But, even with these things being considered, I love it here.

The sun is different here (compared to the Smoky Mountains where I’m from). It hugs your skin from every angle even when you’re fully clothed. It penetrates your bones and brings back life. Sunscreen is a definite must as this sun is unforgiving on the skin. The elevation is very low, so there’s very little pressure bearing down against your joints. The low pressure also helps hearing as it is gentle on the ears. The air is always salty and every breath is healing and savory sea flavored. The sweet smell of the sea life is present in every breathe. Vision changes here as well. It’s bright most days, but the eyes adjust acutely and vision improves.

Homeownership is a bit more expensive here with the local, county, and state fees/taxes. Home maintenance is a regular necessity. The salty air eats away at all things man-made. So setting aside a maintenance fund (at least 1\2 your home’s value) will be an absolute requirement unless you are filthy rich. In that case, enjoy yourself freely!

I don’t know if they really can, but it seems as though the island birds begin to know and recognise you. We have a dove that feels very at home with us and receive frequent visits from various cranes looking to eat our endless millions of earthworms. They come regularly, with no fear, perching atop cars and freely walk our neighborhood streets.

Time slows to a crawl. Each palm waves in the wind in slow motion and the locals move in the same rhythm. Annuals become perennials, fruit is harvested in the winter, and palmetto bushes bring medicinally juicy berries.

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The sounds of the ocean are loud & ever present. The waves crash in and out creating their own unique song. It is the sole sound of the night. There are no crickets. The toads & frogs are silent. For they cannot compete with the mighty ocean. There are no morning song birds with their gentle morning wake up call. They live on the main land or bayside possibly, but definitely not seaside. The ocean is jealous of all other sounds and pushes them away with its mighty strength & winds.

Life on the Oceanside is beautiful, peaceful, and calming when you understand the Sea – its power, jealousy, and fickleness. It’s unpredictably majestic and magical…and it smell grows on you over time.

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Hilton Head, SC Sunrise

Here is the beautiful sunrise on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

 

With Love,

Chrissy

Scenic Chincoteague Island

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Assateague National Shore, VA

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2013

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Finding Serenity

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Chincoteague island Bay-side

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Peace on the bay

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Brother’s Love (a PTSD check-in)

A brother’s love is a strong, sensitive, and unfailing.

While we were on vacation earlier this week, I saw so much evidence of my boys’ healing.  I noticed some changes in their interactions with one another over the last few weeks as we took in a new family addition. It is nice to see them bonding once more instead of being arch enemies with each other 🙂
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On vacation, we went to a small non-commercialized island where we had the beach practically to ourselves. This of course meant we also had the ocean to ourselves for the most part as well. Before the trip, both boys had concerns about safety. Neither could swim and were worried that I may not be able to save them.  They worried about the heat, the sand, the frogs,…practically everything. I think they were afraid of a new experience, but knew I was not going to leave them home – they were going to see the ocean, like it or not!
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On day 1 we drove all day and each of us crashed on our prospective beds at the hotel late at night.

On day 2 we drove the short distance to the beach and they faced their fears. Nick coaxed them out into the water as he laid down a few ocean rules. He showed them how to get past the breaks, not to worry about the sand, what brushed against their feet, and showed them the tranquility of body surfing the gentle waves. I was truly amazed. They did it – with no reservations. They went straight into the water, conquered that fear. Later that day, I watched my oldest son write in the sand to his daddy. I guess he was showing dad that he hadn’t forgotten him. Then, he wrote to his girlfriend (his name and hers in a heart) multiple times! It was sweet. I had a few minor concerns about their PTSD flaring up on this trip and wondered if they would reach out to my deceased husband. My concerns were confirmed, but not anything to worry about yet. image

On day 3 they experienced the beach again, this time with stronger waves. We drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Ocean City Maryland. We went to the beach and the boys were awarded the opportunity to witness commercialization. They experienced mass traffic, city culture, saw what they thought were hot bodies (very little bathing suits and a lot of skin), odd people, live musicians, men and women flirting among the masses, and much more turbulent waters of the ocean.  We spent about three hours on the beach and in the ocean before we toured the boardwalk. The waves were crashing into the beach, the wind was stronger and people were elbow to elbow. The boys approached the water apprehensively. Nick went with them, but warned them about the undertow currents and told them how to make it back to shore if sucked out to sea. image

I could see the fear written on their faces and I knew that I would run out there and save them if I could. They feared losing each other as much as they had feared losing their daddy. They feared losing me and were relieved that I stayed on the shore line this day. I stayed with the towels and our belongings. The honesty factor flew out the window when we left our favorite island on Chincoteague. This was wild, crazy, and chaotic. image

I didn’t interfere as they bonded together, encouraged each other “they could do it” and reassured each other that they’d be okay. I can’t express how hard it was as a mother to watch and not jump in there and erase all of their fears.image

They went into the ocean. Holding hands. Forming a chain of protection as they had vowed to save each other if the need arose. They stayed close to Nick in the water for comfort. Before long, my oldest was waaaaay out in the ocean on his boogie board. He was a natural. He took to the waves like a dolphin. My youngest was not far out though as he stood aside and watched his big brother adventure out into the deep. image

They had learned to swim and hadn’t realized it!! They had conquered a fear and were not aware. They were out there swimming with fish, crabs, jelly fish, sting rays, sand sharks, and lord only knows what else 🙂 image

From the side lines, I watched. From the side lines I was proud of them and couldn’t tell them. They’ve told me that they are fine if I just help them and not actually say “PTSD” or “Are you okay”. My Momdar (mom radar) is supposed to go off at just the right time in their minds to save them from their own thoughts. image

On day 4  we were back on Chincoteague Island and we went to the beach at Assateague Island. They were beginning to wear thin, tire down – like a tire going flat.  The hot sun, wind, and ocean water was beginning to take a toll of them. Irritable and grumpy, we promised them a break on day 5.  I saw more sand writing on day 4 to their daddy and they brought him up a time or two in conversation. No one cried, no one withdrew. They were healing nicely. image

On day 5  Nick rented a bike for my youngest son and Josh to ride around town. My youngest conquered another fear. He learned how to ride a bike! He rode that bike all over the town while Nick and I went to the beach. He conquered a fear of independence and being alone also. He was rather happy with himself that he rode as long and as far as he did on the Island. By car, the entire island can be crossed in less than 10 mins if you obey the speed limit of 25mph. It was very small. My oldest also conquered a fear of being alone in a new place. He didn’t tell me he was afraid with words, I read it on his face. He talked to his girlfriend all day (I’m guessing) as he walked around the island.  Both boys are still healing and growing on day 5 🙂
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On day 6 the boys didn’t want to go to the beach, they wanted bikes again. Nick rented bikes for them and they rode all day through the town. It was day 2 of a new-found freedom and they loved it! On this day all three boys had an argument blow out and they resolved it mostly on their own. Nick and I only had to intervene slightly. They were growing, bonding, learning each other and developing a new brotherly love (whether they realized it or not). image

On day 7 we went back to the beach one last time for shell collecting. They had all formed a new bond and were unaware of it. Each of them I saw talk to each other, interact with each other, and show concern in a new way. image

This vacation was a healing experience for them. Therapy could not have provided what this trip did.

Praise you Jesus for your Love, Grace, Peace, and Healing!!  🙂

Adventure in the Chincoteague Bay

While on the Island, a popular question asked by tourists is “what is there to do on this small island?”  The answer to this question literally cracked me up: Catch crabs! What? The good news is antibiotics or other medications are not needed if you catch crabs here. 🙂

On the bay side of the Island there are docks available for public use & a fishing license is not needed. Many forms of life thrive in the bay. There are crabs, birds, frogs, turtles, fish, billions of variations of snails, and much more.
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A couple of mornings/evenings Nick & I watched the fiddler crabs perform their mating dance rituals. These dances are composed of the male, with his one oversized claw, waving it wildly in the air. He pranced back & forth waving this club claw to show his manhood for the females delight. Once he’s caught the eye of that special female, he hopes she’ll pick him over the hundreds of other males dancing. Childish delight swallowed me & I asked playfully, “Could I take one home?”
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In Memorial Park on Chincoteague Island, fishing is bountiful and no license is required also. We bought a net, some raw chicken, a crab line and off to the park we went 🙂 This is where we went crabbing. While there, a boy came to us and asked us if we were trying to catch crabs just before the sun began to set. Nick answered him that we were & this young man wished us luck. He said he’d been trying to crab there for years & had not done well. He took his fishing pole and walked away from us along the small dock.
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Within 30 minutes, the dock began to clear out. The other fishers began to leave and take their catches with them. Some people were drinking beer, some people were sharing a moment with each other, and other people were teaching their kids how to crab or fish. Steadily, they all left the dock except the boy we met and his 2 friends.
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After dangling our chicken leg in the bay for a few minutes, the crabs started to swim by us. Even though daylight was leaving us, we could still see the crabs skimming the water nearby. We caught a few small crabs here and there.  It was peaceful and quiet. (Our boys did not go with us. They had other agendas for the evening. I think they were looking the island for girls.) There was one blue crab that we caught over and over again. We would admire him, take pictures, then send him back home to the ocean water in the bay. This little booger kept coming back to us. He was like an attention needy child wanting to be admired. Perhaps we flattered him? 🙂
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After all daylight had disappeared, the moonlight brought out the more unique and larger sea life. We saw a beautiful blue/green light in the water.  several times when bringing our net in, we had caught cute little jellyfish. They had no color when out of the water, but when the net was submerged again, the jellyfish began to light up. They were small and graceful. I was thankful I had not seen any of them while in the ocean. I knew they were out there, but not seeing them made the ocean water more enjoyable. I decided Jellyfish are show-offs. They wanted to be admired. The way they lit up for us, danced, and would not leave our area said it all…either that or they like chicken 🙂 image

Nick called to me, “Chrissy!  You have to come see this!!” He was standing over near teenage boys. They had caught something very large. Through teamwork, they managed to bring the large thing across the water line of the dock and they were coming straight at me. I looked over. It was a gorgeous sting ray! Her underside was white and her top was a deep brown color. Her tail whipped and swung from side to side. The boy’s rod was bent under the weight of such a large creature. They handed the pole from one boy to another as they made their way across the dock to the boat landing. She was too heavy to pull straight up out of the water.  Once she was docked, one boy stood on her tail/barb while the other boy gently removed the fishing hook from her back. They turned her over, checking to make sure she was okay and poured water from the bay into her breathing holes. We snapped some pictures and touched her. Then the sweet boy petted her and encouraged her back into the water safely.  I asked the boy his name: Jess.
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“Jess, you did a great job with  that beautiful sting ray!!”, I bragged.
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Shortly after the stingray had been released, the boys were all calling out to me. “Hey, Hey lady. Wanna see?” They brought me an eel to admire that they caught on their line. It looked like a huge slimy earthworm snake thingy.  I took pictures and gave them another pat on the back. We ended our crabbing adventure not long after that. image

It was a wonderful bay adventure!

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Island Bliss

We began our vacation travel by crossing over the Tennessee Valley, up the Appalachian Mountains, down & across the Chesapeake Bay, arriving on the most beautiful, un-commercialized, friendly, and natural Island.

This vacation was a learning experience for many reasons & I praise God for It. This is where we crossed several items off our bucket list, including:

1. See a beach on the east coast of the US
2. Walk on sand barefoot
4. See a sun set at a beach on the east coast
74. Swim in the ocean.
81. Drive underwater while having lunch in a car
83. Have a picnic on a grassy green medium in the middle of 2 roads.
88. Travel to & spend the night on an island
117. See a lighthouse up close, touch it, climb it
118. Wear a bathing suit in public

As on any island or shore line, Assateague Island has a Lighthouse. It’s the pretty red spiral one I kept pictures of for many years. I never would’ve dreamed that I would travel & really see it 🙂 Seeing wasn’t enough, I touched it too. 🙂 On the climb up, there are wide spaces made passable for 2-way traffic. Windows adorned those platform areas, each holding a piece of history & an independently gorgeous view. We paid a very small fee & climbed 198 steps to reach the top. Nick & Josh conquered a nervous fear of heights on that day as they made it to the top proudly. We received a sticker for our bravery & were awarded a lovely view of both islands. Wild ponies frolliced in the marsh pastures below and the birds shared their air space with us in the sky. Peace-tranquility-faith-honor-happiness flooded my being.

90% of the people we met were “Back home” friendly. It was as though our southern hospitality followed us, yet the people were much nicer than back home in Tennessee. Every islander had a smile to share & was genuinely happy to see the new visitors in their home town (even on a holiday weekend). Amazing!!

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The ocean was gentle and the beach was clean. Even the vast array of crabs were friendly, each one politely moving aside to allow sun seekers a place to lay their towel or step their foot where they trod. I had been warned about the sea gulls & how they would swoop down and borrow any sandwich in sight. But, even they were gentle & polite. They flew overhead & landed several feet away, watching for dropped food or discarded leftovers. From time to time they would get tired of food staring and take flight again, proclaiming “mine, mine, mine”! I was experiencing heaven on earth 🙂
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It seemed as though everyone had an Attitude of Gratitude for the serene setting on these two islands and I was very impressed by the honesty all over. Families of all sizes, back grounds, and states were present. Even though the beach seemed to fill up, there was still at least 25ft of space per family available each day & some days even more!

I absolutely loved Chincoteague & Assateague Islands!

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Virginia’s only Island Resort

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Our first family vacation was taken on Virginia’s only Island Resort. It’s a beautiful township where the citizens take pride in their community. This island is small, yet has something to offer everyone (especially adventures). I will break up the resort descriptions into a couple (or more) post, because let’s face it…no one likes to read an article a mile long 🙂

The name of my two favorite Islands are Chincoteague and Assateague Island. A connector bridge takes would be sun-seekers from one Island to the other. image

On the way to this serene escape, we travelled across Virginia. We entered and exited some of the other popular beach get-aways: Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Hampton, etc.

We traded them all for another hour or more of driving to come to Chincoteague Island…and it was so worth it!
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Item 1 on bucket list

After living in East TN my entire life & not really getting far from home, my desires for the bucket list were mostly specific destinations I had always wanted to visit. Here’s an example: Item #1 on the list was a place I really wanted to see!  The Beach!
Not just any beach would do. It had to be Virginia Beach!     Ah, the mystery of the ARE, the beautiful soft white sandy beaches, and the luxury of knowing someone living there & not having to pay for a hotel!! I was set.

Item #1 see the beach. Item #2walk on the beach. Items #3 and #4 were combined – to watch the sun rise & set at the beach. Item #67 to REALLY see the ocean, not just glance at it.

Last year in September 2010, was an adventure in the making!!
My lovely sister is in the Navy, stationed in Norfolk; staying in Virginia Beach with her husband & a good friend. She was pregnant, past her due date of August 20th, and hurricane Earl was headed straight toward that portion of the US east coast.
I swore a hurricane would not interfere with my trip to VA from TN. I received a lot of advice: “don’t go”, “postpone your trip”, “call it off completely”, & “be careful” from co-workers and family.

I packed the car and went anyway. Because of the potential dangers of the hurricane, I left the boys in TN with one of their older sisters. The trip was suppose to take 8.5 hours according to my GPS & Google maps. It took me 11.5 hours though.  I took my video camera with me and chronicled the trip. I stopped every 70-100 miles or so to take a detour & check out some cool old townships along the way.  I totally played the role of a tourist & loved it!!

Along the way, I received texts from my sister updating me on the weather, road, bridge, and tunnel conditions. Several times, the main underwater tunnels and bridges were closed to & from VA Beach. I didn’t worry though. I had faith that God would allow me to get there safely. I made it all the way & realized I could cross an item off my bucket list that the boys had added.  #81 on the list was to eat lunch underwater. I was eating McDonalds as I drove through the underwater tunnel from Portsmouth to Norfolk!! Ha! I never really thought that item was possible, until I did it 🙂

With hurricane Earl reduced to just a storm, I had made it to VA Beach & was hugging my beautiful sister 🙂 I only had 4 days for this trip & had used 1 day up driving, so we had to make the most of our time together. On day 2, she took me to the Navel base at Norfolk. I got to see two super cool ships (69 & 77) and several marine & naval aircraft, and trucks. I crossed item #55 off my bucket list: tour a naval base!
On day 3, we went to Trashmont and I guess I wore her out walking around. The hospital called and said they were ready for her to come in so they could force her labor to begin.

Poor thing, she was hooked up to machines the rest of that day & on a pit drip. After several hours of this labor getting nowhere, I called her & her husband’s friend to come get me (needed his naval ID to get off the base) and take me to see the beach. My sister had her husband with her & I was pacing and making her nervous anyway.
It’s hard not to cry when someone you love has an oxygen mask on, several IVs hooked to them, and machines beeping alarms every few minutes.

We left the base hospital as the American flag was being taken down. I watched the ceremony. That was cool! It was getting late and the sun was almost done setting. My sister’s friend drove & took me all around the infamous Virginia Beach area. The lights, sounds, & night life were amazing. We made it to the beach around 1:30am.

We got the call after 1am telling us my sister had a C-section and delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy. We were already at the beach though, so we finished our goal…mark the beach off my bucket list 🙂     (My sister wasn’t conscience anyway. She was in recovery where I could not be.)

We parked, searched everywhere for some change to feed a meter. Oops, no change!! So, we swiped a credit card on the meter & headed to the beach. We had just bought 2 hours!  It was amazing, even after 1am! The boardwalk was lit & the sand sparkled under the lights. I removed my shoes and walked a few feet out, stopped & squatted down to see the beach. I saw and touched the soft sand, watched the almost see-through tiny sand crabs walking sideways, & took a deep breath. My sister’s friend was kind & patient as I admired God’s creations and marvelled.

We moved on toward the ocean and I saw several naval ships out to sea following hurricane procedures. Earl had left behind some beautiful waves. The ocean rushed toward us and then quickly went back to sea. We walked almost the entire length of the beach and I asked many questions about living in Virginia Beach. In turn, I listened to many stories of how it is easy to overlook this beauty in everyday life.

It was great. I smelled the ocean and even though it was very late, I saw the beach. I touched it, felt it, took it all in and marked several items off my bucket list. I made it back to the hospital by 3am on Labor Day 2010. Yes, my nephew was born on Labor day.

I tried to sleep, but my sister was wide awake, so we talked, played with the baby, took pictures and enjoyed the moment. Around 5:30am, I was too tired to hold my eyes open. I slept till 8:30am, got up, packed my stuff, kissed my sissy & new nephew and drove back home to TN.

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