Tag Archives: beach

Labor Day

They say Labor Day is the end of summer. The last hurrah before the chill of winter settles in. The last cookout of hot dogs and hamburgers. Last chance for ice cream cones. No more days at the beach. And the last day off from work until Thanksgiving!

But of course it’s not really as bad as all that. Oh sure, by Labor Day almost all of the kids have gone back to school. Some have been back in school since early August. So traveling is much harder and summer vacation is behind us. But by the calendar we still have several weeks of summer left.

In my neck of the woods it’s so damn hot you’d think we’d barely hit the Fourth of July. We’ll be able to swim in the lake or at the beach into November most likely. And of course we’ll be tailgating and cooking out into December!

Neighbors to the north, and you don’t have to go very far north, will soon be seeing frost on their pumpkins. And Halloween will be here before you know it. But that’s another story, as is the real meaning of Labor Day.

For now, I’ll just enjoy my holiday boat ride. Wearing my bathing suit and sweating my tail off in the mid nineties heat. I’m always up for a boat ride! Good thing the boat goes fast. Cool breeze!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com


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High Tech Primitive

Assateague Island is a long narrow barrier island off the Mid-Atlantic coast of both Maryland and Virginia. All thirty-seven miles of its pristine shoreline are part of the National Seashore. It’s quite primitive. To get there from the Virginia end you have to first cross Chincoteague Island.

Chincoteague is a smaller island with a lot of marshland, but no real beach. There is however a town there. Chincoteague. It’s a small town but very nice with good restaurants, some good art galleries, a movie theater and of course several hotels. A quiet place. Not like the not too distant Ocean City, Maryland.

Going in reverse a little further geographically, we find a quantum leap technologically. Wallops Island, Virginia is the entry point to Chincoteague Island and here we find ironically one of the most technologically advanced NASA outposts in the world. It’s not shrouded in secrecy like Area 51 in Nevada, but it’s probably not very well known either. But they offer tours if you are interested.

Driving by the base on the perimeter road you can see a lot of towers with antennae, microwave dishes and all sorts of communications devices. There is a C-135 on the tarmac. No people in sight. What they do here I don’t know all the details of, but, I can tell you this- they fly drones out of there.

I know a little about this because of some connections I have. The drones are launched during hurricane season and flown over to the coast of Africa where most hurricanes begin as storms. The drones fly in circles tracking the storms to offer early information to weather trackers. Pretty cool!

A few miles away on Assateague, the only thing you can see above the natural coastal forest is the lighthouse. It’s built ten feet above sea level and is itself 142 feet tall. Built in 1833 it warned mariners of shallow waters in the area and had a giant Fresnel lens. Today it has an eclectic light that shines nineteen miles out to sea.

Other wise the beach is almost entirely primitive. There are many walking trails through the forests, and to the lighthouse that can be climbed during the day for a great view of the area. The beach is very peaceful with no surfing, body boarding or kite flying allowed. There are lifeguards but they seem to spend their time telling people they can’t surf, body board or fly a kite. And there are armed park rangers who scold people for wandering into the bird sanctuary. All with a smile and good-natured attitude. For some people, the absence of those activities is a positive thing. The beach is beautiful. And tranquil. A place for enjoying the sounds of the sea and your own thoughts.

One of the most famous aspects of this island is the wild ponies. There are about three hundred ponies that just roam around freely. They pretty much stay away from people and my kids were disappointed to find that the ponies didn’t just walk up to you on the beach. But we spotted a number of them from a distance. Each year, in the spring, they are rounded up and make a swim to Chincoteague. Across the bay. There some are sold to raise funds to maintain the island. They have been there for hundreds of years and will be for a long time into the future.

So there you have it. Primitive. Quaint. High tech. All in a row on three adjoining islands. Definitely worth the trip for a good time.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Portrait of the Writer as a Beach Bum

Over the past several years I have finally been able to pursue several very fulfilling projects. A true Gemini, I now have my work, and my “hobbies.” I choose the word hobbies because while they are endeavors I love and hope to do more of, I ain’t getting’ rich from either.

One of those “hobbies” is writing, and those of you who follow this humble blog will know that I can be prolific at times. What some may not know is that I have also written tow books. Neither of great notoriety. But this summer, as part of my growing enthusiasm, I have launched a third book project. Third time is the charm, right! Watch for the screenplay in your local theater.

I came across this photo while reviewing my photo files and remember the day I took it. At the beach. This summer I’ve been to the beach several times and somehow it must be fate that the photo has surfaced and my book idea has developed. They are meant to be intertwined somehow.


When I took the picture I titled it “Self Portrait.” That’s how I saw myself that day. And today. And somehow a book by Irish author James Joyce came to mind. His first novel was published in 1916 and titled “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” It’s what is known as a Kunstlerroman, or coming of age story, and is a highly autobiographical tale of the hero’s rebellion against mid- and upper class social norms and his gradual growth into artistic self- expression.

I’ve since changed the title of the photo to “Portrait of the Writer as a Beach Bum.” I will certainly not compare myself to Joyce as a writer, but I do believe the two stories will have some similarities. I’m not revealing details yet.

It may take a while, and will certainly be a lot of work. But it is going to be a labor of love. Even if no one else loves it. I’m stoked!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Beach Creatures


Mostly what we see at the beach is sugar sand and water. And lush, tropical vegetation. Hibiscus. Sea oats. We don’t think much about the wildlife there, except the people maybe. Another story for another time!  And yet, there are plenty of critters there to be found. And they’ve been there, calling it home, a lot longer than humans have.

Everyone likes to collect seashells although sometimes they are hard to find. But the shells are usually the discards of living creatures moving into bigger accommodations or the remains of dearly departed sea life. Let’s think about what else is out there, if we dare.

In third grade I read a book about monsters of the deep. Something called a stonefish stuck in my head and for years I wouldn’t go in the water without shoes on my feet. Hard to swim, but better that than to step on a deadly poisonous fish. Since then I’ve tried to block out what’s really out there.

I’ve been to the beach and seen schools of little fish swimming near the shore.   And a few bigger fish not far behind. I didn’t see the even bigger fish that were surely nearby. Or the sharks. I have seen lots of dolphins swimming along the shore. Everyone oohs and aaahs over them. Cute. And harmless. Some beaches are turtle nesting sanctuaries and if you’re really lucky you might get to see the migration of the little fellas from the dunes to the water. Some beaches have lots of shells, others not so many. And once in a while you might run into nastiness like jellyfish, or an overabundance of seaweed. We went on one trip to a place we called the seaweed beach because it was everywhere. Seemed like it got into your pores. Yuk.

Here at Hilton head they have sand dollars. Seems like you can hardly move your hand across the sand under the water without coming up with a handful of sand dollars. They are soft and hairy when they’re alive. And you can’t keep them.

The other thing we’ve seen a lot of are horseshoe crabs. Now there is a throw back to the dinosaur age! Really. They have been around for 450 million years. And haven’t changed a bit in that time. They are often called living fossils. The ones we see here at the beach are all dead. The shells are empty although you may find some legs floating around here and there. The shells wash up on the beach and it’s hard to tell if anyone is at home. Unless you flip over the shell. Yesterday we didn’t see any, but the day the hurricane passed through, and again today with raging wind and boiling surf, there were plenty of them. I’d take one home as a souvenir, but I’m smart enough to know that after it’s been out of the water for a few hours, or days, its gonna stink like a big dead fish!

There are other things out there. I know that. And the water here is cloudy with sand so you can’t see your feet.   Fishing boats pass by not too far in the distance and some folks fish from the beach. I don’t see any fins. Cowabunga!!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Hurricane Beach

We pulled off a pretty good trick this weekend. At the last minute, like July 1, we decided to go to the beach for the Fourth of July weekend. Bear in mind that I don’t live at the beach, or near it, and I don’t have a beach house. And the Fourth of July holiday weekend is probably the busiest weekend of all at any beach resort area.

Looking on line I found lots of nice places to stay. None had any vacancies. Hotels, condos, private homes, all booked up. I had to work my way through three different islands to finally find a place. Jekyll didn’t have a thing. Saint Simons might have had something but gong there is like having my whole town transported to another place. Just everyone who is anyone goes to St. Simons. Nope. So we hit on Hilton Head.

It’s been years since we’ve been here. Like fifteen I think. We are in a place called Palmetto Dunes Plantation. The island has changed a lot, but not the plantation. Sure there are lots of new condos and even a new hotel, expanded anyway, but basically it’s a tropical resort carved out of the coastal forest of South Carolina. Very nice. And our place is only a ten or fifteen minute walk from the beautiful beach.

I’m spoiled and I always insist on staying in oceanfront accommodations. This weekend there just weren’t any available that met our needs. Everyone wanted a full week commitment, and they wanted to charge five hundred dollars a night. We are here for three nights. I’m not sure, but it may still be costing the five hundred per night. But out my front door is the pool, and the back porch is right on the lagoon. It’s a nice place. All things considered.

When we got here and I looked at the map of the area I remembered why we probably haven’t been here in a long while. The last time was when the hurricane hit and we had to evacuate. I was determined to have fun to the very end so we rode bikes in the rain. We swam in the pool in the rain. We swam with frogs in the pool, in the rain. We went to the beach in the rain and I even tried to fly the kite in the hurricane winds. When we finally left, the roads out of the resort were under six inches of water in places. But I’ve got a great story to tell.

This year, Tropical Storm Arthur, not sure it ever made it to hurricane status, was tracking up the east coast as we were driving toward our vacation wonderland. It should be right over Hilton Head just as we reach it was the forecast. Oh BOY!!! Crossing from the mainland to the island the rain started. Squally. It didn’t last long though and by the time we actually got to the beach it was clear. Rest of the weekend is supposed to be nice. Whew! Maybe we’ll come back sooner next time.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Wind Chimes

For Father’s Day my kids gave me a new set of wind chimes. I acted surprised, and exceedingly happy. And indeed I was happy. But not surprised. After all, I told them what I liked and where to get it. It’s a little more special than it sounds though.

We were at the beach for our vacation on Father’s day this year. Not planned, it just worked out that way because of everyone’s schedules. We usually go to Florida for the beach, but this year we were in Virginia. Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. Assateague is a national park. It’s so undeveloped that there are ponies that roam wild on the island. They are a big deal and every year they swim over to Chincoteague for the great pony swim.

So it’s a new place for us. And different from the commercial beaches we tend to go to. Not that we favor them, we just tend to go there. Anyway, they told me that since this was a different kind of trip, and Father’s Day was involved, I should be on the lookout for something special to take home as a souvenir. I knew exactly what they meant. Something they could give to me as a memento of our family trip to this special place. Cool.

Over the course of our stay we hit a number of shops. Art galleries, beachy tourist traps, and some gift shops. I didn’t need postcards, t-shirts or alligator heads. You know, that kind of stuff. And since my kids are students they couldn’t buy me any great artworks. But in one shop I found the wind chimes.

I’ve always loved the wind chimes they make in Maine. They tune them to sound like the buoys at various lighthouses along the coast. And they are expensive. I have a job and can’t afford them. But these were made in Virginia, were well made, and had a very nice tone to them. They just didn’t sound like any particular famous bell. Just a nice bell. And they were affordable.

These kinds of chimes always sound a little melancholy and they reminded me of a time earlier in my life when I lived near the ocean. At the time I went to Naval Officer Candidate School it was located in Newport, Rhode Island. It’ moved since to Pensacola, Florida. Warmer there. That’s another story for later. We lived in a brick barracks building and my room faced Naraganset Bay. The bay was about fifty yards from my window. I was there in the dead of winter and at night I could lay in, I mean, on my bed and hear the buoys clanging in the bay. The buoys mark the navigation channels for ships. Each buoy has either a green or red light on it and they bang away with their motion on the water to warn sailors in the fog about the channel. All night long I’d hear a kind of distant clanging. Soothing in a way. A guardian in the darkness.

Ever since then I’ve enjoyed listening to the sound of the chimes as wind blows through them. I have five now. They are made of different things. Metal tubes, glass, old silverware, old bells. Two are sentinels calling out the opening and closing of the outside doors to my house, and three are just to sooth my soul.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Horseneck Beach

Creativity came from my mother’s side of the family. Or so I always thought. After all it was she who is the artist. She draws and paints. And is always good with an artistic project. You should have seen some of the Halloween costumes I wore! And she worked in an art museum as a curator. Not to mention that she was a collector as well.

But when I look back on it, my dad wasn’t just a rocket scientist; he’s pretty creative too. He’s a technician. By that I mean he can look at a sculpture by Louise Nevelson or a Mark Rothko painting and understand what they are really doing. And then create his own version of it. He didn’t “invent” the idea or the form or the style, but he understands it and makes it his own. In that way he’s a creative artist.

I was reminded of all if this when I brought home three of his wood sculptures. All are assemblages of pieces of wood. Two are a la Nevelson in that one is painted white and the other black. Nice, but copies.

It is the third one that is so wonderful. He called it Horseneck Beach. We would go to Horseback Beach every summer when we went to visit my father’s family in Massachusetts. One year, 1968 I think, my dad collected a lot of bits and pieces of driftwood off of the beach. Right, Horseneck Beach. He made a rectangular frame out of some weathered wood and filled the inside with the driftwood. In the center is a big flat piece that is covered with barnacles. It looks like the beach.

This one hung in a museum at a juried show. Sometime later a guy came to the front door at our house with some kind of package and he saw the sculpture hanging on the wall in the hallway. He said he’d seen it at the museum show and seemed to be really excited to see it again. Now I have a true museum piece hanging in my breakfast room!

Maybe the creativity comes from his side. Doesn’t matter where it comes from. Glad to have it! That’s part of my history. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.comImage

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