Saturday, July 18, 2009

And the waves washed over me

My honey and I are on a week long visit to Sunset Beach, California for a belated 15 year anniversary trip. We got here yesterday and discovered the ocean is literally over the hill from our condo. I've never been in the ocean. I've seen the Atlantic once, when I was a missionary in Rhode Island, and the Pacific a couple of years ago when we drove down the Oregon coast, but I have never stood in the water, not even a single toe.

Not until today.

It's amazing the things nobody ever talks about when they rave about beaches and the ocean. My idealized vision of visiting the ocean consisted of walking hand in hand with my sweetheart through the satin sands, dancing away from crashing waves while a gentle breeze tossed my hair. Today, Gary said "I'll bet the ocean would help your back," as he's knuckling my shoulders into subservience. Cringing, I squeaked, "okay," willing to do anything to make the pain stop.

We were on our way shortly and the first thing I noticed being different from my idealized vision of the ocean, was that sand is awfully hard to walk in. I finally understood the whole "shifting sand" phrase. By the time we reached the water I was huffing and puffing and my feet hurt from all the jagged bits of seashell scattered through the sand. We tossed down our towels, then chased them because the "gentle breeze" could compete with gale winds in my hometown. "Stiff Breeze" took on new meaning when my hair stood out straight behind me or whipped around to snap me in the eye.

With our towels weighted down by shoes, we finally made our way to the water, my feet still stinging from the beach sand. We crested the final hill and saw the majesty of the ocean. It was every bit as beautiful as I though it would be . . . until the massive bits of seaweed rolled onto the beach right before my eyes. I hadn't expected seaweed. I don't know why. It just hadn't occured to me that seaweed might be found on the beaches. Silly me.

My heart started pounding as we neared the water, Gary's hand in mine, a huge smile splitting my face. The water surged up and nibbled at my toes, my eyes widened. It felt marvelous, except . . . nobody had ever mentioned how water and sand are so pervasive they will go anywhere. The grit flowing under my toenails surprised me, but I quickly got over it and stepped deeper into the water. The waves crested, the frothy white tops curling down and smacking into my knees, then spread across the sand. That was fun, so I went deeper, and deeper until I could barely touch the sand on my tippy toes. A grin was spread across my face from ear to ear. I was happy.

And then a monster wave rushed toward me. My heart raced a bit, but I thought, I can handle this. I readied myself and jumped just before the wave hit. Only, I can't jump THAT high. The wave slammed into me, engulfed me, body and head and shoved me toward the shore, where I stumbled in the sand and fell to my knees. I started to laugh, kneeling in the sand, when another wave smacked me from behind. I came up sputtering, still laughing and was hit again, and again, and again, until I was coughing, spitting out salty water (another thing I hadn't envisioned. The ocean is salty? Really??), and STILL laughing. I couldn't help myself. Finally my husband came and offered me his hand. I was laughing so hard I couldn't stand. My legs wouldn't work. The ocean had just about drowned me and it was freaking hilarious!

So, what did I learn today?
1) The ocean is powerful. I am in awe of the overwhelming force of it.
2) Never turn your back on a wave. They take advantage of you. Yes, I do belive in water nymphs. Do you have a problem with that?
3) Sand is migratory. Enough said.
4) Remember to laugh. It feels better than anything in the world.
5) Sunset Beach really IS all about the sunsets. Talk about AMAZING.
6) It has been MUCH too long since I had my last vacation.

Quote of the Day:The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov


Josi said...

You're such a good sport--I do not think I would be laughing :-) BTW, my brother served in Connecticut, but 6 months were on Rhode Island. He was spanish speaking and returned about 3 years ago. Have a great trip!

Karlene said...

You forgot to mention the creatures that nibble at your toes and swim around your legs.

And the smell--the dead sea things smell.

Oceans are beautiful to watch but not so much fun to play in--at least, for me.

Glad it was a good time.

Rukia said...

only time i've seen the ocean was in Australia, and i've never touched toe into the water either, but i have ingrained the sensory of it into the deepest part of my memory.

then you have the "man-made" ocean-experience that Arizona is infamous for. Not the same, i'm sure, but some of what you wrote brought back memories of it from my long growing-up years. LOL Especially from 'big-surf'. i almost died there :P

Tricia said...

Growing up in Cali, all that you wrote was like a huge wave of nostalgia! Did you stay long enough to know you actually need blankets after sunset? That the "breeze" chills you to the bone and makes the salt-water on your skin turn into a body-tightening mask? LOL Oh those were the days. Glad you finally experienced it, I think everyone should!

Nichole Giles said...

Karen, I can't believe you've never experienced the ocean before now. I don't know about you, but I think the ocean is really amazing. I could sit and stare at it for hours, and love being in it, as well.

Someday, you can come visit me at the beach house I'm going to buy when I make a lot of money. We'll have a retreat.=)

Have a wonderful vacation!


Christine Bryant said...

So funny. Glad you didn't go under with the water nymphs. Can't wait til you get home.

L.T. Elliot said...

Karen, you truly have a poets soul. This entire post just spoke the tides for me. I'm so glad you laughed. I'm so glad you experienced the majesty, power, and beauty of the ocean--even its unsavory moments. Come home soon but in the mean time, keep playing. Keep laughing.
Love you.

Pink Ink said...

Sounds like a grand adventure :-). I love the ocean, too. And yes, wave-slamming is kind of exhilarating and scary at the same time LOL.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on the coast - and I was always taught that you never turn your back on the ocean. It will sneak up on you every chance it gets. And waves will knock you down and roll you over just for fun! I've had it happen lots and lots of times.

Leah S. said...

Hello my little mish friend, that was the best beach story ever. Did it at least help your back? The water freaks me out, I've only gone in up to my knees. I can sit on the beach for hours though, it's beautiful. Glad you had a good time. - Leah Shreeve

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

I loved your description of your day at the beach. I could imagine it so well. I could feel the waves coming towards me. Great job! The first time I put my feet in the water at the ocean there was one thing that went through my mind: "DANG IT! THIS IS COLD." It's nice to see another lady RM. I sent 3 of my daughters on a mission, and myself, too.

Karen Hoover said...

Thanks, you guys! Glad you enjoyed sharing my first ocean experience. I wish we'd recorded it. I'd love to have watched it back myself! lol