A trip to the beach can be relaxing and very refreshing. Vacations, for most vacation-goers are highly anticipated, and once they arrive - they are full of surprises and make lasting memories.
For the past two years, my fiance, Jeremy and I have gone to Virginia Beach, Va. for our summer destination. We loved it so much, we have even stayed in the same hotel in Norfolk, Va. summer after summer.
This year, we will have the privilege of taking our daughter, Emma with us. The thought of her feet touching the sand for the first time, wading in ocean water and wearing her little beach hat makes me smile with delight. And even though she will be too young to remember any of this, there will be times when we take her on vacation when she's older, and she will dread every minute of it.
In 1996, when I was 11 years old, my parents took us to Assateague Island for our summer getaway. According to an Assateague Island Web site, "Assateague Island National Seashore was established for the purpose of protecting Assateague Island in the states of Virginia and Maryland." It goes on to the say that "The National Park Service and Fish & Wildlife Service help protect Assateague Island's splendor."
That word, splendor, really hooked us. Trust me, our vacation was anything but splendid.
My mom and I recall countless memories from that vacation and laugh at some of the "minor" and "what else could go wrong" scenarios we had to endure as we camped on the island.
First, there were wild ponies that inhabit the island. My mom recalls one night when my late father was sitting around the campfire and heard horses "fighting." I'm guessing they were mating. My father decided to take action - seeing that he had three small children to protect.
So what did he do?
"He threw cans at them and scared them away," my mom said.
Well, God must not have liked Dad's can tossing incident, because our punishment was surely on it's way. Over the course of the next few days, our tent - that we slept in - blew away in an awful thunderstorm and our entire family was eaten alive by mosquitoes - my dad even came home with a tick.
For the record, nobody was in the tent when it blew away, and we eventually retrieved it.
As my mom puts it ever so eloquently, "And the mosquitoes down there were absolutely horrible ... your dad had to open the tent, get you kids in and zip it shut." So, basically we were like prisoners in our own tent.
When we came home, my mom even swore she counted over 200 mosquito bites on each of us. I asked her if that was an accurate statement, because I hardly believed we could have had 200 mosquito bites EACH. Then she said, "well maybe I'm thinking of your chicken pox."
One of the better parts of our trip, however, was taking a ferry ride over to Cape May, N.J. and walking along the boardwalk. I always liked the boardwalk, there were so many shops that had all of the same items in it, yet they were all so different. Everything also is extremely overpriced at the beach, but I love it all - it adds to that beachy character.
I remember booking our reservations in January and thinking that this day/week would never come, yet somehow seven months have gone and past. Now, I am able take my daughter to the beach for the first time. Even though she won't be able to remember any of it, the pictures we will take will give us lasting memories along with the others we make.
And even though we're staying in a hotel, I'm still coming prepared and bringing the bug spray.
Sentinel reporter Tara Maguire welcomes parenting advice and stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.