A trip to the beach more complicated, but better

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2019

A trip to the beach with the family was a wonderful distraction last week. Relaxing. Fun. Bonding.

Growing up in the ’60s, I remember we would take a trip to Kure Beach every couple of years. We always stayed in a cottage, right on the sand.

Not so any more. Nowadays, and for good reason, the houses are built well above ground, on stilts if you will. The houses aren’t right on the sand, but in most cases, behind or on the sand dunes. It’s the right thing to do if you don’t want Mother Nature taking your vacation home out into the sea.

The houses now are spacious and well appointed. All have air conditioning. Back in the ’60s, air conditioning was an open window. You hoped it included screens to keep out the “no see ‘ums,” those little flies or bugs that love to bite into human flesh. Last week, I don’t remember seeing — or feeling — even one no see ‘um. After a hot day on the beach, it feels good to relax in air-conditioned comfort; although I suspect we stayed outdoors more back then because of the lack of air conditioning.

Going to the beach last week wasn’t hard, but it was a chore. It’s amazing how much stuff four adults and a child take to the beach. A tent to provide shade. Chairs for all. Beach toys for the little one. A cooler full of cold beverages and ice. Sandwiches. Snacks. Hats. Towels. Music. It took one overloaded pull cart and a golf cart to get the job done.

As a child, you went to the beach with a towel. That’s right. A towel. Nothing else. If you got wet, you had a towel to dry off. If you wanted to lay down, you spread your towel on the sand and parked your butt right there. If your towel became sandy and wet, well, you had a sandy and wet towel. Back at the cottage, the towels would hang on a clothes line across the front porch every evening — waiting for the next day at the beach.

Thirsty? No reaching into the cooler then. You went back to the cottage for a drink. Luckily, those cottages were on the sand, right at the beach, and not too far of a walk.

I like the modern ways of going to the beach much better, especially as I age.

Once, I craved the sun. I played and worked outside wearing as few clothes as possible. The sun was my friend.

Not any more. Now, most of us avoid the sun — or in the least, wear sunblock. We hadn’t heard of sunblock back in the day. We had suntan lotions, coconut-smelling concoctions that helped the sun seep into our skin. We were pretty much basting ourselves like a turkey at Thanksgiving.

On that front too, the modern ways are better.

Even getting to the beach has changed. It’s four lanes of interstate highways most of the way to beaches now. Back then, it was two lanes and a visit through every small downtown along the way, complete with their stoplights and small town police officers. Now is much quicker, but you don’t get to see as much of America. I’m not sure which of those are better.

Anyway, it’s summer. The kids are home from school. And it’s beach time for many families.

Enjoy. But stay cool, stay hydrated, stay away from the no see ‘ums, and keep that sunblock handy.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.

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