Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Beach Bum

For the last few years, I was all about the mountains. I could see the mountains from my apartment in Aurora, Colorado. I drove to the mountains to enjoy all the seasons. I skied in the mountains. I hiked in the mountains. I loved that the mountains were always cooler than the other areas of the state. And everyone knew where they were going because the mountains were always in the west!

I knew I would miss the mountains dearly, but since I moved to the western side of Michigan, I've realized something:

I love water more than mountains!

There are many reasons for that, both historical and current. First, my maternal grandparents bought a cottage outside of Oconomowoc, Wisonsin many years ago, and my family would often travel there to meet up with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. The cottage was on a lake, and while the lake wasn't the prettiest, I really enjoyed sitting on the dock and listening to the water lap up to shore.

My paternal grandparents lived in Bay City, Michigan, where if you hold your hand up to look like the Lower Peninsula, Bay City would be on the curved area between your four fingers and your thumb. My Papa enjoyed going on walks, and my favorite walks were at...the mall.

Gotcha!

My second-favorite walks were on the paths that bordered the bay. I loved looking out and seeing the long ore boats making their way to Lake Huron and other Great Lakes.

I have had negative water experiences. Both times that I have visited the Gulf of Mexico weren't under the best circumstances, and left a bitter taste in my mouth. But most of the time, I have loved my water time.

In my area of western Michigan, Lake Michigan is mere minutes away. I have frequented the dunes many times and ran next to the Lake Michigan beaches. Every time I go, I find new ways to love my new beach life.

I still love the mountains - don't get me wrong. But a mountain trip would require going all the way around the southern part of Denver, and that area was pretty much always backed up with traffic and would have to be at least a half-day trip. A beach trip for me now is about a ten minute drive, and can be squeezed into a free hour in the day.

The people on the beach are an eclectic bunch - especially right before the sunset. I try to time my trips to when the sun is going down, and so do many other people. There are families, elderly, book readers, guitar players, photographers, videographers, dog walkers, friends, beach volleyball players, fisherman, sandcastle architects, and couples. It can sometimes be a fascinating bunch to watch.

Lots of people are there to go swimming. But many just use the time to sit in their beach chair and allow the waves of the water to lull them to sleep.

Much of the first 25 years of my life were spent with a lot of stressful stuff going on. But now that I'm well into my professional career, I can make sure to appreciate the times when I can just sit in the sand and relax. Thanks to my location, that is even easier to accomplish.

Now I have not experienced a western Michigan winter yet, and I've heard that it can be pretty brutal. But if I can deal with a Michigan winter and still get to enjoy the beauty of the beach during the other three seasons of the year, I can live with that!

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