So we went on a trip. Not a vacation per say, since given I was in charge of the safety and governing of 3 other people, all financial transactions, navigation, organization, and, well, just about everything. So, more of a business trip. You know, as usual.
I was toying (well, more than toying, since I was actively doing nothing to refute the opposite) with the idea of skipping a family trip this year, given the intense desire of someone in this household to replace all the windows in this place (oh my lands, so $$$$), but my travel ambivalence was somehow overridden (I still don't know how this happened), and I found myself planning a not insignificant road trip to visit some of Chris's side of the family with a few paltry weeks to spare. My anxiety flared mightily when I realized I'd been trusting Heir Google with his day-plus-a-few-hours drive estimate when I should have realized the map mileage put it more at 2 solid, long days each each way, and once I did, noted we'd be driving as long as we'd be staying at our destination. I wasn't sure this was a reasonable trade off. But the chief driver (not me, ha ha, no way) wasn't daunted but this prospect, and frankly seemed really jazzed to hang with some of his blood relation (we'd traveled to/with my side in recent years), so when he said let's go, I broke out my lists & spreadsheets (yes, I'm that kind of planner) & worked the magic (magic assisted by my mother, amateur travel agent extraordinaire, but I'd like to note here that it's also magic that has rubbed off because I'm not too shabby at the travel planning myself when I'm not freaked the heck out).
I am the only one of our quartet that had been to the SC, and that was for the decidedly more vacation-skewing Blathering last fall. While I was fairly certain that during that excursion I would fins like-minded individuals willing to walk around shopping and generally ogling downtown for hours, sip fancy coffee drinks, and visit historical landmarks, I was equally certain I didn't have a quorum agreeing to anything of the sort on this one. I mean, I was the only one excited about the proposition of multiple meals of shrimp & grits. I really didn't know how I was going to entertain the small people for more than 4 solid days short of buying them an entire toy store.
Did you know Charleston is on the coast of the United States? Did you know that includes a coastLINE? And by which I mean beach? I suppose I knew these things, but it didn't really connect in my mind because when I think Charleston, I think battlegrounds and plantations and seafood and biscuits and sweet tea and definitely NOT sandy tanning opportunity with wave action. I cannot explain this. I passed geography.
However, even with this knowledge, I had no confidence that my children would actually LIKE the beach. These are pool kids. Kids accustomed to chlorine and clear water and no sand to get into unfortunate places. So I was a tad on the nervous side. We could get there, take 10 steps across the itchy, grainy terrain, get hit with some driftwood coming on the first wave, and get slapped with a No Thank You, Ma'am right quick. And then we'd be staring at each other for 4 days. Or googling the nearest toy store.
What I learned on this trip: my children are complete & utter beach bums. They adored it from the moment we set foot on the sand. We ended up spending most of every day there with various relatives (nieces, nephews, grand nephews, assorted spouses, and even grandchildren - yes, you read that right - our family tree is decidedly kinked) walking, searching out seashells (& bringing home at least 5 pounds of them), building sandcastles, jumping waves, body surfing, boogie boarding (thanks, coastal-living family!), actual surfing (!) (& more on that in a moment), & it was incredible. Sammy even turned down a snack - food, his dearest love - because he didn't want to take time away from the waves to wash his hands & eat. Unprecedented.
About the surfing. One day, the random guy came up to us, saying he'd been watching Chris & Sammy. Not in a creepy way - he wanted to ask if Sammy would be interested in taking his surfing class. He gave a brochure and blah blahed awhile about the lesson, saying that he guaranteed his students would be stand up surfing by the end of 1 90-minute lesson or it would be free. My immediate (internal) reaction was, "I shall accept your challenge, Sir, and I shall win," Because I've seen my son and his gangly ways, so I was preeeety sure I'd be coming away with an invoice for $0. (Side note: I checked & the lesson would only have cost $35, which seems like a screaming deal to me. I expected $75 or $100). This was in the back of my mind the next day while at dinner with my nephew-in-law (see: kinked tree), who is an avid surfer, so I told him the story. He was joining us at the beach the next day and said he'd teach Sammy to surf. I chuckled inwardly again and told him to give it a shot. I expected a lot of exasperating sighing and under-breath muttering by day's end.
Um, I was wrong. Boy caught wave.
No, he's not going to shoot the curl any time soon, but my wiggly, clumsy kid stood up on a skinny little board in the moving water and stayed put, long enough for me to snap several pictures. Longer than his DAD (sorry, Hon, gotta speak the truth). Sabrina chose the Cleopatra surfing option, but she had a blast boogie boarding, even when she (her words) "faceplanted".
So it all worked out. I'm glad I front-loaded the trip with the things I wanted to do, so we all came away satisfied. I love that the whole family was captivated by natural, free entertainment that left us happy and spent. I'm thrilled that my vigilant sunscreen hosings kept everyone largely free of sunburn (save Chris's face, which will always turn beet red with exposure of more than 35 minutes), especially my bizarre skin that usually goes into alien mode in the presence of east coast sun (I cannot explain it, but yet it is unnatural and fairly consistent with each visit, but no longer). And I'm happy we got to spend a pretty decent amount of time with kin we don't get to see very frequently, and even less frequently get visitors from our neck of the woods (come on, family, it's lovely over there, so get off your couches and head east I say).
Thank you to our east coast family for your time, tour guide excellence, fantastic conversation, and total embrace of my crazy kids. Also, thanks to my Blathering ladies who reminded me of all the wonderful places we ate and wished we could have eaten (I hit up as many as I could, and am now sweating off the delicious consequences). My only wish is that home and Charleston were just a little bit closer. I don't mind the road trip (hey, no 3 ounce bottles!), but I wouldn't mind shaving a few hours, you know?