Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sand lessons

When I was a kid going to Catholic elementary school in Dayton, the only spring break we ever got, as I remember, was Good Friday, Easter Monday, and the somber/happy weekend in between.  
The concept of taking a week off from school or work in the spring of the year to have fun didn’t catch up with me until I was going to college.  And frankly, all spring break really meant then was that I could get a whole week of work in at Rike’s warehouse, my place of part-time employment.  
Even with the advent of my teaching gig in Huber Heights in 1972, spring break didn’t really mean anything more than a week away from teaching kids.  If the truth be told, I didn’t really have any more money to spend on seasonal fun then than I did while in college.   
Not so much with the lovely Cindy Lou, who tells the story of her driving to Florida one spring in her Austin American with a crew of Ohio University girls who loved to play softball.  Can you see it?  Oh, it hurts just to think I didn’t even know her then!    ;-)
In any case, Cindy Lou has loved heading to sunny sand at the very tail end of winter for some time now.  First time she took me along was twenty-odd years ago when I Pricelined five nights at the old Radisson in Fort Walton Beach for 50 bucks a night.  The room wasn’t much, but the setting was terrific.  
By mid-week I could see a change in Cindy.  Her skin had transformed before my eyes.  She came to radiate a warmth that, well, I found downright fascinating.  And sexy, too, I might add. 
So, being the wise man that I am, I determined that we should make a concerted effort to get to Florida every spring break.  While in Fort Walton Beach, we found a condo down the road with a pool and beachfront that rented by the week for a heck of lot of money, but not so much we couldn’t afford it.  The Nautilus became our spring beach place the next few springs.  
With that in mind, about the time Cindy Lou retired, we started talking about the idea of buying a timeshare.  Guaranteed beach time seemed a no-brainer.  My brother and his wife have a couple timeshares, in which they get to spend weeks in cool places a couple times a year.  Joe took us with him once to Williamsburg where we had a lovely time.  Finally, last winter Cindy Lou and I bought our own timeshare.  Which is one heck of long introduction to the whole point of this blog:  
Last week the Cooke Schaefers had our first timeshare week -- at Hilton Head, South Carolina -- and we took along my 91 year-old mother.  
And a good time was had by all!  
The Barony Beach Club, a Marriott Vacation Club property on Hilton Head, was downright amazing.  When we first entered our villa, Cindy Lou stopped in the middle of the living room, soaking in the prolific use of her favorite colors and recognizing how clean things were, and said, ‘This may be the best place I’ve ever stayed in.’  Trust me, it was light years ahead of the Radisson!  
Oh, what a week we had.  I toted the slow-cooker and fired it up for a pork tenderloin one night and a whole chicken another.  My, my.  Amazing stuff.  The girls just crowed about how good things were.  They liked the store-bought peanut butter cream pie, too, and the two half gallons of ice cream! 
The day before we left, Cindy and I decided it was time to get Mother out to the beach for at least a short walk.  We would go at low tide when a solid, very walkable beach -- even with a walker -- appeared right out of the ocean!   Mom agreed, and braving loose sand and unsure footing -- she held on tight -- she made it all the way down to the edge of the ocean.  
As my sister Martha wrote, ‘Sometimes the image speaks for itself.’

I am now a proponent of taking annual spring vacations in warm, sandy places near big water.  Can you tell?  ;-) 
On the way to Hilton Head, Mother checked an item off her bucket list with a visit to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.  One exhibit on marriage there ran a clip from an old late-night television show in which Rev. Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham, was asked if she had ever considered divorcing the often-traveling preacher.   Her response: 
Today’s Elder Idea:   ‘No, I never considered divorce, but I did consider murder!’ 
Howls of laughter followed.  
images:  Hilton Head Island (April 2012)