Quest for the Beach

Quest for the Beach

by Andrea Rennick

It was a hot and sultry summer evening. Beads of sweat glistened and dripped down brown skin, aching for relief. The only sound to break the heavy stillness was the speeding traffic in front of my house, and the never-ending, “Mom, I’m hot!” The complaints of the heat were sometimes varied with requests for the pool.

I had a brief mental picture of the screaming, the splashing, the noise level, and the exhaustion. And that was just getting Emma and myself into swimsuits. This didn’t even take into consideration the wildlife residing at the local pools. I swear there are kids who literally live at the swimming pool all summer. Their moms must have less wrinkles and grey hair than I do, getting all that free time away from their kids.

Anyway, it was decided we would forgo the flashing of our day-glow pool passes for the lapping of ocean waves and sand. We piled ourselves into our passenger van, rolled the windows down as far as we could, and took off to places on the map we hadn’t discovered.

We picked a winding country road off the main highway and headed out to the end. The map said there was a beach there. There were even campgrounds, so it had to be good, right? The first beach, after much hunting, looked really good. It was also fenced. Clearly, it belonged to the rental cabins directly across the road from it. It was decided that I, as the official family spokesperson, would venture over to the main office and ask if we could crash their beach.

There was a bit of a language barrier, even if we both spoke English, because the guy did not quite understand what I was getting at. Surely he noticed I was hot, in a bathing suit, had a van full of kids, and had driven by his beach about 4 times. After establishing that yes, the beach was private, and yes, he owned it, I ventured into my nervous habit of dropping off the end of my sentences.

“So, do you think we could, you know . . .”

He looked at me.

“I mean, “ I continued. “Could we maybe dip our toes in the water?”

His face finally dawned with understanding. “OH! You want to use the beach! Sure, go right ahead.”

We parked by the lush green lawn heading off to the sandy playground. We spilled out of the van aching for relief, some of us racing to the shore —

To be brought up short by the cliff.

Okay, it wasn’t really a cliff; it was more a breakwater to give it a term. But still, it was a pile of rocks that led to a rocky beach. No sand. Not much beach either. After a few minutes of staring at the water wistfully, an overly friendly doggie came by to beg us into throwing sticks out for him.

Considering we had an unstable toddler on slippery rocks who was also afraid of doggies, no matter how friendly, we left in search of another beach.

We skipped over to another road, noting how the air was finally cooling this time of night. There was another campground! There must be a beach somewhere. Turns out the beach on the map was between us on the road and the campground. We noted said campground had a pool. That couldn’t bode well for the condition of the beach, so we abandoned that idea. My husband Ron then got one of his ideas. “Let’s check out the end of this road,” he said.

I held my breath and bit my tongue. Needless to say, even though the view was spectacular, there was no beach, unless you wanted to swim in a bog, and the potholes in the dirt road were probably a good indication as to why there was a proliferation of For Sale signs on all the summer camps.

It got a little testy when it became painfully obvious that this was not a road to any beach other than one in Hell, and Emma asked with a sigh, “Are we at da beach yet?”

We turned around, back towards town.

We made two more stops with the setting sun, I’m sad to say. One was a beach by a fishing wharf, which looked really good from the parking lot. It looked really bad when we got to the water’s edge, past all the broken glass from weekend parties. While jellyfish are fascinating to watch swim around, none of us wanted to swim with them. At our next and last stop, two members of the family didn’t even want to get out of the van. The rest of us wandered along the beach still after the Holy Grail of sand, not rocks, and no dead jellyfish.

We eventually found a small spot of paradise, shining in the setting sun. Wet and sandy, waves delicately lapping on shore. It was nice. Long fought for and a little late, but nice. When Emma got a little wet, I had to pick her up, and just as I did a jellyfish floated by between my legs. Then three doggies showed up for their nightly stroll.

Look at that, time to go!

The next day something clicked in my head. It was hot again, and we just wanted to splash around in some water, just enough to get wet. We remembered our inflatable family-sized pool, right over there, in the back yard.

Andrea Rennick is a homeschooling mom of four children, ranging in age from 3 to 16. A sense of humour is a big part of dealing with the ins and outs of her day. She can also be found at her website, Reach her at