We love beach vacations.
With summer coming to a way-too-speedy close, JB and I decided if we were going to get to the beach, we better get going. Last week we booked a condo on an island, packed our bags, and took off for the coast as soon as we could.
We arrived late the first night to find a cute little condo just as the pictures described, with a view nothing like the website described. It was a tiny disappointment, but we were there to spend time at the beach, not sit on the little patio overlooking a parking lot. So we shrugged it off, and prepared for the beach.
Our first stop the next morning was at a little German bakery we knew we wanted to try. The bakery was a fabulous find. JB and I are of German descent and we felt a interesting kinship sitting in the little shop. The restaurant was filled with delicious baked goods along with several other reminders of a country some of our family called home.
As we sat eating the food and listening to the bakery workers converse with the customers, we thought about our relatives, not that many generations back, that traveled to America to start a new life. We wondered if they brought such recipes with them. Did they bake these wonderful creations in their German kitchens?
We went back each day and tried something new and marveled at the deliciousness of each homemade item. The German bakery was definitely a surprising highlight of our beach vacation.
After a meal filled with bread, meat, and cheese, sitting on the beach and taking in the ocean sounded like the perfect plan. We headed to a beach within walking distance from our condo…at least that’s the theory. We saw plenty of cars driving down the little road, but nary a person actually walking to the within-walking-distance beach.
One of the things we love about going to the beach in Texas is driving right out on the sand. You can back your vehicle up to the ocean. It’s such a cool experience. We had grabbed the required beach parking pass at the local gas station that morning, and we were hopeful about we what we would find down the little road.
Texas beaches…bless their hearts…are nice. They try…but they are just not the pretty blue waters and white soft sand of say…Florida or the Bahamas.
But a day on the beach is better than a day not on the beach, and the beach we discovered on this trip proved to be one of the best Texas has yet to offer us. We picked our spot, and began unloading our car.
Our German heritage means we are fair-skinned people. We burn quickly in the sun…even with sunscreen. So JB unpacked and set up our two little beach umbrellas and they worked diligently to shade us all afternoon on the windy beach.
The wind gave our little umbrellas quite a workout and as the day went on, JB was checking up and down the beach what other people were using for shade. By the end of the day, he had decided that we should get a canopy for the next day.
So the next day, we enjoyed another morning at the German bakery (don’t judge…it’s our heritage, you know), then we drove across the bridge back into town to find a canopy. Four stores later, we had a nice sturdy canopy, four bigger-than-we-probably-needed spikes, and a roll of Duct tape. I so love my man.
Finally, after gathering our supplies, we returned to our new favorite beach, only to discover the Saturday crowd was insanely bigger than the Friday crowd. People were packed into every inch of the shoreline and we decided we should maybe try another beach.
We drove down the road to the next beach and found it nearly as packed as the first one. We saw an open spot that didn’t look too bad, and as we turned, we realized the sand was not as firmly packed for driving on as the last beach.
Just as we were discussing if we should nab the open spot, we stopped. Our wheels spun. We were stuck.
I immediately began throwing out suggestions of what we could do, such as “I can get out and push.” To which JB responded with a look that spoke volumes and a request to please let him think for a minute.
I tried to sit there quietly, but quiet isn’t my strength, nor is watching someone get upset in a situation. I am a fixer…and I was trying to think of anything that might help to diffuse the frustration building up.
Then I remembered the Snow button on my car’s console. I knew it might have something to do with traction…could it help?
So I blurted out, “What about the Snow button?”
Y’all…I really wish you could have seen his face. He looked at the Snow button and then he looked at me and then he said softly and firmly, “No. Please be quiet and let me think.”
So I sat there quietly for what seemed like MINUTES, but evidently were mere SECONDS, when I broke the silence once more to offer to go ask someone for help. JB agreed that would be a GREAT idea. I was so relieved to get out of the car…and I’m pretty sure he was equally relieved to have me get out of it.
As JB sat in silence analyzing the situation, I found a guy that looked strong and asked if he would be willing to help push us out of the sand. About the same time, another guy drove up in a big Jeep and offered to pulled us out.
With my helper pushing, JB steering, and our new Jeep friend pulling, we were out of the frustrating situation faster than we expected. We thanked our kind strangers, I jumped in the car, and even though a great beach spot had opened up right next to where we were, we decided to leave the Beach of the Too Soft Sand and return to what we knew and loved.
We pulled back onto our favorite beach and there was a great spot right in front of us. JB backed in and unloaded our new canopy with just a tiny concern about the lack of upper body strength and size of his partner.
I gave him my best effort, and we began setting up our new purchase. I guess we looked quite incapable of pulling off the set-up on our own, because just a few minutes in, another couple came over and offered to help us get it in place.
Thanks to their expertise and guidance, we had our new shade up in no time. Our new friend suggested we bury the legs of the canopy to keep it from blowing away in the wind. That is when JB pulled out his four foot spikes and Duct tape. The gentleman took one look at JB’s plan and said, “That will do it.”
I asked in the sweetest wifey voice I could muster if the Duct-taped look was really necessary…and apparently it was.
While I was not thrilled with this redneckish approach to beach setup, things had not gone as smoothly as we would have liked…so I quietly watched him hammer in the spikes and Duct tape them to the legs of the canopy.
We had a fabulous afternoon and evening at the beach. A few hours later, when our neighbors began to take their canopy down, it started to go airborne. JB was able to jump in and return their kindness by helping them catch it, and get it taken down before it flew away.
The next morning, we were awakened bright and early by the fire alarm going off in our condo. There’s nothing like waking from a deep sleep by a blaring fire alarm. We jumped out of bed, but before we could even form coherent sentences to each other about what was happening or what we should do, thankfully…mercifully, the alarm stopped.
Nothing seemed to be on fire, so we climbed back in bed and tried to go back to sleep. By the time my heartbeat returned to it’s normal pace, I was wide awake, and so we finally just got up and prepared for our last day on the beach.
We enjoyed one last meal at our favorite bakery and then were delighted to find our favorite beach was a little less crowded than the day before. We backed into a great spot and unloaded our canopy like we were experts. We were halfway through the set up when a man and his son walked up offering to help us.
The job of setting up a 10 X 10 canopy on the beach goes much smoother with twice the people…especially when three of them have upper body strength. In no time at all, we were once again enjoying the beach, with great thankfulness for the shade our new purchase was providing and the kindness of strangers.
Then the wind picked up again and JB began watching the frame bend a bit with the wind. While our Duct-taped spikes were doing a fantastic job, (our canopy had not moved an inch from it’s spot), the frame was continuing to bow under the pressure of the constant wind.
JB got the Duct tape out again and reinforced the bending frame by taping the cheap little spikes that came with the canopy to the frame. True. Story.
We sat back down and enjoyed the beach under our canopy a little while longer when: POP! The canopy frame broke – not in the place where JB reinforced it, but at the corner. It was clear, even to my untrained eye, this was not going to be fixable.
We decided it would have to come down, and so we began the process of taking the canopy down. We were doing okay, but there was A LOT of Duct tape to remove and the wind had not let up for even a minute during the entire ordeal.
We were slowly getting the canopy down, when two couples came walking up the beach toward us. They saw us struggling from quite a ways down the beach and had come to our rescue. With their help, we got it down quickly. The seasoned beach goers felt so bad for us and kindly gave us several helpful tips for our next beach trip.
After we got the canopy down, JB went back to the car and pulled out our little beach umbrellas. He got them Duct-taped and staked in the ground, but the wind was just too much and folded the umbrella’s up just as quickly as we got them opened.
JB quietly took the umbrellas down and returned them to the car. He then went for a swim in the ocean. I felt so bad for JB. I knew he was trying to make sure I truly enjoyed our few days at the beach. He was doing everything in his power to make it special and relaxing, but I was sure he felt like the odds had been against us this trip.
I sat on the beach, watching him swim, and waited. I was giving him the quiet he needed. After a while, he started to head back in, so I got up, and met him in waist deep water.
I tried not to be overly “sunshiny” as I told him how much I had enjoyed every trip we had ever made to the beach. I told him I wasn’t going to let disappointment or things not going as planned ruin our beautiful trip. I was truly grateful to get to be there.
I could tell my optimistic outlook wasn’t doing much for his frustration. I was trying to figure out how to make him feel better…when as we talked…I took a massive wave to the face.
It drenched me and left me blinking and sputtering.
And JB laughed.
He laughed….and I laughed too.
Soon we were playing in the big waves that were rolling through the ocean, laughing and smiling…the mood had been broken…so taking a massive wave to the face was totally worth it.
We went back to the beach and sat in our chairs with no canopy or umbrella and soaked up the sun for a little while. Then we packed up, went back to our condo, and got a bite to eat.
Later that evening, we returned to the beach, and watched the moon rise over the ocean. It was a peaceful, powerful, beautiful way to end our beach vacation.
As we sat in the glow of the moon, we talked about how each time something went wrong, there were people we had never met, who were just trying to enjoy their beach day, but saw us in need, and reached out to help us. It was humbling and touching.
This is why I believe God is in the details. Sometimes we don’t get what He is doing. We walk out into the ocean in frustration and shake our fist at God. We question His plan. A word of caution about that…He might just throw a wave in your loved one’s face to get your attention and put you back on the right path.
If everything had played out just like we wanted it to, we would never have met those kind strangers and experienced their goodness. So much of the daily news surrounding us is negative. We start to doubt people and their intentions. We wonder if there are any good, caring people left in this world.
And then your car gets stuck in the sand seven hours from home, or you are trying to set up or take down a canopy on a windy beach with your 4’11 wife as your only helper…and God sends you reminder after reminder that there are still good people in this wonderful world that He has created.
If you look for them, you will find them anywhere. What a blessing to us that we found them on a windy beach in Texas just when we needed a little extra kindness.
While living in Texas, I may never get to push that Snow button in my car. Of course, I still have no idea what it actually does, but apparently it is of no use when you are stuck in the sand on the beach.