Monday, January 24, 2011

just another day at the beach

Never underestimate the healing power of a shovel, a long stretch of beach, the rhythm of waves breaking, and the sun. Sometimes all you need is a bucket or a book, a pair of sunglasses, and an afternoon to loosen the muscles in your neck, to shed the anxieties you hold in your back pocket.

Ever since last summer when Toby and I spent a couple days at my sister- and brother-in-law's Santa Cruz beach house I realized that that was exactly what my family needed to get back to center. These past three years have been some of the most stressful, coming on the heels of three of the most stressful before that! We hadn't taken a vacation, all 5 of us, just for fun, no surgery hooked in, no family to visit, no conference to attend, nothing hanging over our heads, in so long. I was determined to get us to the beach and a couple weeks ago we finally did just that.

We drove about 4 1/2 hours down to a very small beach town on California's central coast, Cayucos, renting a house just behind one right on the beach.

(Please note all photos were taken with my iPhone and most were taken with its "Hipstamatic" app. This app gives a retro look to the pictures, as you'll see, and gives something of a comfy, old family photo album sensibility to my simple snapshots. Hope you enjoy it. I can't get enough of it!)

We hoped for warmer weather but planned for rain. We got glorious sunny days, highs in the low 70's. We packed wetsuits and beach towels and board games and the Wii. The boys played in the frigid water and dug in the sand (they still, at ages 17, 13 and 10, can find hours of happiness digging in the sand). Mark and I read books and magazines. I embroidered and knitted (though I've discovered my hands have started to get numb when I knit...more on that another time...grrr.) We went to see the elephant seals with their newborn pups hanging out at Piedras Blancas beach, toured Hearst Castle, and observed the Monarch butterflies that spend the winter at Pismo Beach. We had dinner with our long time family friend, Ann, who lives in nearby Morro Bay, and Mark and I got out for date night at the amazing Hoppe's Bistro right there in "downtown" Cayucos. We went antiquing in Cambria and Cayucos, and I found a great yarn store. We had nightly marathons of "Big Bang Theory" and "Eureka," our two favorite tv shows which we watch on Netflix. We baked chocolate chip cookies (grainfree!) and had pizza delivered (grainful!).

But best of all, we spent stressfree time together as a family. We needed this vacation that was unblemished by a surgery date looming, a surgery itself, a family obligation, a memorial, or anything on a "have to do" list. We woke up late, we sat in the sun, washed the sand off in the outdoor shower, cuddled on the couch, and generally unwound.

Couldn't have asked for more. Not an ounce.

Ben's skim board in the foam

Ben, buried in sand and wetsuit, his favorite beach activity

Toby, freshly ocean-i-fied, and a view down the beach

Mud, glorious, mud!

Ben, Hearst Castle

Casa Grande, Hearst Castle

Outdoor pool, Hearst Castle

Mosaic, Roman indoor pool, Hearst Castle
One of three embroideries I worked on from drawings Toby did of our animals

Elephant seals as far as the eye can see!