Continuing the Memorial Day weekend saga…In my previous post I mentioned that the corporate headquarters of our new family franchise is hosting a conference this weekend at a city on the west coast of Florida. In their infinite wisdom, they selected a business hotel 15 miles away from anything resembling water, beach or bay. Craving a vacation get-a-way I took it upon myself to find a beachfront locale from which I could write, read, sew, and swim.
I grew up at a time when people did not travel far afield for summer vacations. As a Florida born native, the beach tended to be our vacation destination, particularly to the west coast where Mom, Dad, my brothers and I piled into rustic beach bungalows with galley kitchens and maybe 2 bedrooms, if we were lucky. But back in the 60s, the Florida coast looked decidedly different than it does in 2014. Miles of unspoiled powder white beaches, interspersed with sea oats and mangrove trees, defined the landscape. Hours were spent languishing on canvas rafts in the calm, turquoise gulf. I guess I thought that landscape had long ago succumbed to developments with names like Coral Bay (even if coral is non-existent in this area of the world). But, driving along Gulf Boulevard in search of beach access signs (hard to find since most of the condo complexes have commandeered all the beach views and access), I found a piece of my past. For $100 per night (even over this holiday weekend), my second story bungalow hosts a view of scrubby Florida landscape, coquina infused sand, and white frosted indigo blue water. My red BMW is conspicuous among the station wagons and pick up trucks. Vapor from a chain-smoking guest wafts upwards to my splintery deck while notes of Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places serenade me. While this might bother me in my real life, I’m unfazed here, even slightly appreciative. My Mom was a smoker; I have been known to bum a cigarette on occasion. These were the affordable kind of places our opal station wagon journeyed to so many years ago. So at 60 years old, I’m discovered a piece of my youth and it, along with the shore breezes, feels rather good.