I grew up going to the beaches of the Florida panhandle, most often Destin or Perdido Key – an easy trek from New Orleans to what I still believe are the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. The sugar white sand is like that of the Caribbean, and the calm, warm Gulf waters are much more appealing to this Southern girl than the chilly ocean temperatures one tends to find on either coast (most of the year anyway). I’m not a surfer. Just let me sit at the edge of the shoreline in my chair, with a book, while the water washes up against my toes, and I’m in heaven. Sadly, this past weekend in Perdido, there weren’t any chairs to be seen along the shore. From our balcony, the beach looked as beautiful as ever. Even sitting under our umbrella, everything seemed like business as usual – except you’d have thought it was November, not June, based on the number of other vacationers in sight. Or unless you tried to do something as simple as walk into the water to cool your heels. Walking along the shore meant toes covered not only in sand, but also spots of slick oil, which necessitated the use of a scrub brush and dish soap before heading back into our condo.
Unusual were the countless workers from one group or another, walking down the beach with clipboards in hand, observing – if not the beach itself, perhaps the people. I thought perhaps we were being counted. Small ATV’s cruised back and forth along the beach, drivers dressed in jeans, boots and long-sleeved shirts in 90-degree plus temperatures. Helicopters surveyed the scene. Small banner planes, a normal sight during the summer months, alternated signs for Fried Shrimp with those that said “55 days…what are you going to do Obama?” It may sound a bit like a war zone, but it was oddly peaceful. For now anyway. In two weeks it may be a completely different scene. We packed up Monday afternoon, and the President and his motorcade arrived just afterwards, locking down the stretch of road along that same beach for several hours.
Luckily for us the boys were still able to dig to their hearts content in the sand and play for hours in the pool. Not much was different in their world. We enjoyed time with our family, and despite the loss of several pairs of shoes, I'm not complaining a bit about my trip. I just hope that next time, I’ll be able to pull that chair up to the shore, book in hand, and dig my toes into nothing but sugar white sand (or the water).