On Beach Walk No. 16

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

We started 2017 with 4 weeks on the Alabama coast where I started this series. After returning home last year, friends asked if we would do it again next year – to which I always said “No” in a serious, disappointing tone. After they grabbed the hook, I added, “Nope, not 4 weeks – next year will be 6 weeks.”

Instead of all of January, snowbirding 2018 went from mid-January through February. Yes – I was blogging from there – and started my recent blog break from there before returning home. This walk combines thoughts on my first and last walk – plus several after thoughts.

The fine, whitish sand squeaks as I find my way to the water’s edge. As I walk the beach I noticed similarities from a year ago.

Shells still collect on the sand. The heron still patiently stares across the water waiting for the next meal. Pelicans still glide near the water’s surface and dive from many feet above.

The seagulls still squawk. Lanky sandpipers still carefully stroll the water’s edge while the sanderlings continue to amuse me with their frantic ways. Multiple dolphins still occasionally pass by. Sand crabs still appear to move sideways as the scurry down their hole on the beach when hearing approaching footsteps.

I note differences as I walk. Although an ongoing process, the sand has noticeably shifted in some areas. On the other hand, that’s what sand does.

Our daily patterns are still the same as we are relaxed being away from any sense of normalcy. Sort of an alter ego from daily life at home – an alter ego worthy of its own walk.

Last year we collected shells displaying a variety of variations on a theme – but this year it was about uniqueness.

Last year we arrived knowing nobody here. This year we quickly connected with a couple from then. Last year we didn’t have any visitors, but this year we hosted my sister-in-law for a week. Friends from Ohio rented a short distance away for a week. We had lunch with friends from our street at home. We even saw the best man in our wedding (now in Oklahoma) who happened to be passing through on a week-long mountain biking journey.

I walked a lot while on this coast during the six weeks. The goal of many people is 10,000 (10K) steps per day. I typically got that by noon and easily exceeded 20K on most days. As my time ends, the soles of my feet are smooth – but a persistent warm glow of tenderness serves as a reminder of the many steps during my 45 days. Life as an alter ego is grand.

A year ago my mind was extraordinarily free to think – but this year, personal thoughts preoccupy my mind. Good news is that more beach walks are on the way – more walks than last year.

I took a blog break because blog breaks are good. I’ve resurfaced with a beach walk because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.


On a Month Without

For us, January 2017 started with change questions. What would a month be like without ballroom dance, without handbells, without volunteering, without our friends, and without our normal routine?

Jan 1: We left Cincinnati on a cool, foggy morning for a day of driving, which included a light rain that occasionally became more – but not a constant rain. We noted the slow increase in the temperature.

Jan 2: The final 4.5 hour drive, again with intermittent rains of varying strength. Dry at the time of arrival, but the view of the surf while unpacking told a different story – the dangers of a nearby tornado – so down to the lower lobby we went. The evening storms off the coast provided an extraordinary light show that was worth watching – but the next morning would be a positive omen.

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Jan 3-5: Cool but comfortable days. Sometimes shorts, sometimes jeans, but always long sleeves and usually a jacket. Good enough to find our routine of breakfast, lounge, walk, lounge, lunch, lounge, walk, lounge, shower, dinner, cards/television, and sleep.

Jan 6: A stormy day that also brought falling temperatures – a good day for a movie (La La Land).

Jan 7-9: The northerly winds delivered quite the chill, yet no matter how cold, it was warmer than home. Walkable days, but shorter distances.

Jan 10-19: After the initial transition day, a string of days of sunshine and 15-20 degrees F (13-24 C) above normal. Perfect days to continue the routine. Days that would treat us to glorious sunrises, colorful sunsets, and brilliant nightly moons.

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Jan 20-21: Although temperatures remained above normal, unstable air delivered an angry sea and occasional storms – even tornado watches and warning severe enough to interrupt normal television. Good days for movies (Hidden Figures and The Founder).

Jan 22-25: The normal routine returns as storms are gone, but the above normal temperatures remain. It’s been quite a streak of warmth.

Jan 26-27: Normal temperatures finally arrive – 60 F (15 C) by day – 40 (4 C) at night. The breezes are cool. Sweatshirts and jackets are the order of the day. Some people in shorts, others not.

Jan 28-29: Noticing the temperature decrease during our return drive home – a home not along the sand and waves, but one of wonderful sunsets when the sky is right. Home – the permanent one, not the temporary. A home with colder temperatures and light snow in the air. Home – the place (while we were gone) that had 1 sunny day, 6 partly sunny/party cloudy days, and only 7 precipitation-free days in January (although overall temperatures were above normal). Home – the place for ballroom dance, handbells, volunteering, friends, and normal routines – just not the routine of January 2017.

That was our January in Orange Beach, Alabama. A time when we had a different routine – one of first-time snowbirds. A time when I drafted over 20 posts the old-fashioned way – on paper – so I now face the daunting task of getting them ready.

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