“Sure. It’s a nice enough day. Why not?” So I jumped in the shower, fed the kids, and we went to the beach. No, we don’t live in Santa Barbara or another beach town. We live in Santa Clara, right next to San Jose, but if you’re willing to brave Highway 17 we’re only a half an hour away from the ocean.
The kids napped for the short trek over the mountains and through the woods and we spent a lazy afternoon playing with some friends in the sand near the water’s edge. When we got bored with sandcastles we hoped back into the car and drove to Capitola where we watched surfers ride tiny waves while eating monster ice cream cones.
“What a great vacation!” I thought, momentarily confused.
My cone dripped rocky road ice cream all over the baby (riding in a sling is dangerous business) and the sun beat down on our heads. If we closed our eyes all we could hear were sea gulls and foreigners chatting on the beach (OK, fine, Brits, on the bench next to us, close enough. Whatever.) and we could all too easily pretend we really were on vacation. But a fun dinner in Santa Cruz later and we were back in our cars headed back over the mountains to our respective homes, the surreal day drawing to a close the same way it had begun, with children sleeping soundly in their car seats.
The next morning, if it hadn’t been for the ton of sand I found in C’s shoe I could have sworn that I’d dreamed our beach adventure. How can the beach be so close when I can’t smell the ocean or hear the gulls? My family rented “beach” vacation homes that were farther from the sea than our house is to the Pacific, and yet, we all too rarely go. Those mountains always seem so hard to cross.
This summer I fully intend to pack up the beach gear and the sunscreen more often. C is at the perfect age for ocean fun; young enough to want to spend hours making sandcastles, but old enough to frolic in the (freezing) surf. I want to get buckets and shovels and make endless tunnels in the sand where we can lose countless toy cars. I want to empty sand from tiny shoes and wring out waterlogged sandy bathing suits. I want to lie on a bright towel and read a novel or two while my kids play together and make me sand pies. You know, if I can ever remind myself that it’s worth the trip over 17.
This post is (will be?) cross posted at Silicon Valley Moms Blog where I write a few times a month.