It seems like my annual case of the Januarys are soon followed each year by beach fever. I was looking thru the Bonechives this morning and realized I posted about having beach fever last year on February 25th. This year, it's a day later. I feel so regimented...
The last hour of the trip to Gulf Shores takes you off Interstate 65 and onto state highway 59. At first, there's nothing much but trees. But after a few miles, you start thru a string of four or five little towns with churches and Auto Zones and Winn-Dixies lining the side of the road.
The terrain has now completely flattened out. You see your first palm tree. And finally there's Foley, with its outlet stores and its golf courses. The number of seafood places increases exponentially. And you know you're almost there.
Old 59 has become familiar over the years, but I still remember my first trip. The anticipation. The excitement as the road came to end, realizing what lay just beyond the walls of the hotels and seaside restaurants. Going to the water park. Eating pizza at Papa Rocco's. Catching my first throwed roll at Lambert's. But most of all, I remember the ocean.
Taking off my shoes and running thru the sand like a four-year-old. Or a mental patient, you decide. Standing like a statue and letting the uprush wash over my feet. Sitting in the sand under the stars and feeling like God was almost close enough to touch. My amazement that such a place existed and my regret that I had let twenty-two years of my life pass before I experienced it. It was love at first sight.
I always knew there was a beach, that the waves crashed, and that the ocean was salty. But until I experienced the amazing peace that is listening to the rush of the waves, until I got my first mouthful of salty water, until I saw the ocean meet the sky, until I felt that indescribable breeze engulf my whole being, I really didn't have a clue.
Since that first time, everytime, coming to the beach feels like coming home.
I hope to get home soon.
"Little umbrellas shadin' margaritas. Coconut oil tannin' senioritas. Oh, now I know how Jimmy Buffet feels..."