29 Jun
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Beaches vs. Mountains

Beaches vs. Mountains

sunset Opal Beach Gilf Islands Seashore, Florida
I’ve always lived within an hour drive of mountains with their curvy roads and sweeping vista overlooks. Our outdoor adventures tend to include elevation climbs, trails through woods, rock outcroppings  and running water flowing over rounded stones. When we have the opportunity to travel to a beach I look forward to spending an evening in the sand believing we’ll be satisfied with a quick dip in the ocean.

mom and children at Canaveral Seashore
I become salt-water drunk after those first few minutes on the shore. I can’t get enough of the jewel-toned skies as the the sun bids goodnight. The salty air invigorates me. It’s intoxicating.

four kids running at Cocoa Beach Florida
Our mountain-loving children look forward to beach days on vacation. They hurl themselves from the vehicle rushing to the water as they kick sandals off their feet. They’re drawn to the sand and sea. They have a healthy fear of the water and do well to stay close to the shore. The boys allow themselves to be hit by wave after wave while their sister squeals with delight running away from the incoming water.

boys rolling in sand Sanibel Island, Florida
I drink in the sounds of the surf mixed with my joyful family. The beach is an all-encompassing five-senses experience. I begin vacation believing the one afternoon will be enough. I think a few hours will fill the needed beach quota until the next time we venture from the middle of the country to an outlying shore. I crave the beach after those first few minutes. We’ll sneak in stops at beaches while we travel, not always bothering to change into swimsuits. Dinner followed by an hour in the sand becomes what we do on summer evenings for that brief window of summer vacation bliss.

Opal beach Gulf Islands Seashore Florida
Florida offered us beaches galore. Opal Beach on the Gulf Islands Seashore is run by the National Park Service. There were no crowds on the sand even though less than five miles away the same shoreline was crowded with swimsuit wearing revelers. Opal Beach has several amenities including covered picnic tables, water rinse stations and restrooms. The sand was white and fine, just begging for toes to dig into the warm topcoat in search of the cooler sand beneath. It was my favorite beach on vacation.

shell-covered beach Sanibel Island, Florida
shell hunting at Sanibel Island Florida
We also enjoyed seashell hunting on Sanibel Island’s Bowman Beach. Crowds take away from my beach enjoyment, and this beach was another one with people few and far between. The shoreline is littered with seashells. The kids could have collected buckets of shells. They searched a few feet only to come back with hands full of shells to add to our pile on the beach. Eventually the boys answered the call of the waves and were lost to the water while I walked the sand listening to sounds of summer and searching for a new find to share with my family.

small crab Canaveral Seashore Florida
As much as we loved the beach, we missed the mountains. We longed for landscape that included rocks while we drove through the South or a parting in the trees to give us the open vistas the West offers. While I could get used to evenings filled with short bursts of time at the beach, I couldn’t spend days simply sitting in the sand. It’s not in my makeup. Distance makes beaches magical for us. I’m already planning our next seashore adventure.

Follow our 6,025-mile adventure.
Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park
Next: Universal’s Islands of Adventure


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