Every year, at the end of July, we fly south to join my parents and two sisters, and their husbands and kids, for a week at the beach. We rent a big house in a place called Fort Morgan, which is on the Alabama Coast, on the Gulf of Mexico. We started this tradition ten years ago, although this was only our eighth trip because one year we couldn’t go because of the hurricanes and another year we couldn’t go because of the oil spill. But even through those crazy disasters, Fort Morgan has remained an incredibly beautiful place, and for me this vacation is one of the best weeks of the year. Here’s why, in no particular order:
- The water. You just step into it and swim. The temperature is perfection. The salt water means I just lay back and float. The waves can be gentle swells, or they can be big enough for some pretty decent body surfing. Either way, I love being carried away by the tide.
- The birds. There are so many awesome coastal birds here. I’ve decided that in my next life I want to be a pelican. They have such a beautiful way of flying - high in formation with other pelicans, or just inches above the water. They dive for fish with such precision, I don’t know that they ever miss. And they look prehistoric.
- My family. When it comes to family I am incredibly lucky. We might not get to see each other very often, but when we come together once a year it feels like home.
- The flow. There’s such a natural flow to the way we live at the beach. We go to bed when we’re tired, get up when we’re not, eat when we’re hungry, swim when it suits us, chat when we’re feeling social, read a book when we’re not.
- The kids. Did I ever mention that not only do I have the most amazing kids, I also have the most incredible nieces and nephews? There were 8 kids in our beach house – ages 9 through 14, and then there were the neighbor’s kids, and the kids of our friend’s who were renting a house down the beach – 14 kids all together. I love watching them have the best time ever. Sometimes they even include me.
- My bathing suit. It’s practically all I wear. While this might not sound so great to some, it really is, trust me. I would never do this in Seattle, but for this one week I am completely comfortable traipsing around in my swim-suit, completely forgetting about my huge thighs and ever-increasing waist-line.
- The puzzle. We do 1000-piece puzzles every year and oh boy do they suck you in. Todd stayed up until 3 am one night because he couldn’t tear himself away. This is the only time of year we everdo jigsaw puzzles.
- Dinner. All 16 of us eat dinner at the same time at three big tables pushed together. It’s pretty incredible that for seven nights we pull off making enough food for everyone, but we do, and it’s delicious. Keeping it simple is the key.
- Our friends. This year we were joined by our friends who, 35 years ago, we shared a beach house with at the Jersey Shore. We’ve talked about doing a reunion in Alabama forever, and this year we finally pulled it off. How lucky are we that even though we live all over the country and rarely see each other, we can get together and have so much fun as if no time has passed at all?
- The south. “Yes ma’am.” and “No sir.” It would be weird in Seattle, but in Alabama I find it really charming when someone calls me ma’am. The accent is the best, and the people are the nicest. And the live oak are super cool too.
I’m going to stop at 10 things, but could probably keep going for a while. There’s the mini-golf, the incredible thunder storms, the dolphins, the fish that suck on your feet, the stars, the fort, the shipwreck, the Blue Angels, the fireworks, the crêpes my dad makes for breakfast, and this little guy:
Okay I’m done. Thanks y’all for reading.