On Becoming Beach People

My view of the harbor from our place on the beach

My view of the harbor from our place on the beach

I have never considered myself much of a beach person.  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I was blessed with a range of wilderness options for my adventures.  Although I was able to choose between seashores and snow-capped peaks, I was always drawn to the mountains first and foremost.

Why not go?  The beach is a two blocks from home.

Why not go? The beach is only two blocks from home.

I have enjoyed plenty of ocean beach experiences.  I flew kites on the sandy beaches of Twin Harbors, Ocean Shores and Long Beach (Washington).  I explored Pacific Coast shores from Cape Alava to Point Reyes.  I fished and foraged for mollusks from Hood Canal to Cape Flattery.  Nonetheless, my heart always belonged to the rocky crags and towering peaks.  Unless I was scouting for a secluded cove to call my private paradise for a couple of days, beaches were merely places to go and sit.

One thing boring about the beach - it is so flat.

One thing boring about the beach – it is so flat.

Getting a good tan was never in the cards for me.  My Nordic ancestors endowed me with a pasty whiteness that was never meant to withstand prolonged exposure to solar radiation.  Even with a 30-plus SPF sunscreen, I can quickly turn into a crispy critter if I do not wear long sleeves and pants.   Not only did I run the risk of sunburn, but I also found plopping on a beach to be boring.

I am older now.  After many years of employment, I can recall countless times when I would have given a lot to be bored.  Maybe that is why I feel so ideally suited to being retired.  I have learned to not only accept boredom, but also to embrace it.

Numerous cafés line the beach.  We usually pack our own food and drink.

Although numerous cafés line the beach, we usually pack our own food and drink.

And now here I am in Torrevieja, Spain.  Typically, if I spot a young people here, they are either working in a service sector job or they are in town to visit their grandparents.  So what do all the old people do here on the Costa Blanca, or the Costa Brava or the Costa del Sol?  You guessed it – they go to the beach!  Many of these jubilados (pensioners) have incredible tans.  Some take an occasional swim in the warm, clear Mediterranean waters.  A few, like me and Florence, bring a book to read.  Some folks take a nap.

When I finish reading I have time to think.

When I finish reading I have time to think.

We recently invested $15 in a beach umbrella.  In order to maximize our ROI (return on investment), and given the luxury of free time, we now join the daily migration from apartment dwellings to the sandy beach just 500 feet from our door.  Like practiced pensioners, we pack drinks and sandwiches and take a book and some puzzles to work on.  We are now ‘beach people.’  And thanks to the umbrella, I can safely sit in the shade and not risk too much exposure to the sun.  Does that sound boring?  Maybe it is.  But as I have often been known to say, boredom is greatly underappreciated.

Note: All photos are the copyrighted property of Florence Lince.
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10 comments on “On Becoming Beach People

  1. It sounds delightful, not boring!

  2. brickthomas says:

    Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? “Sit MIke. Now stay. Good pensioner.” 🙂

  3. DebbieT says:

    You realize that this is my retirement primer, right? I mean, where else do you go to learn about what to do when you retire??

    • Mike Lince says:

      Of course you should learn as much as you can from your elders to avoid making some of their mistakes. You are a good student, Debbie. Keep up the good work.

      In a post about retirement that I wrote over a year ago, I wrote in all seriousness about those people who retire and are bored to death, or they never quit working because they do not have anything else they wish to do. The point is that people definitely need to pursue interests outside of their work. For me it was travel and hiking and reading and writing and occasionally volunteering in a school or NGO.

      I subscribe to Joseph Campbell’s eloquently stated philosophy – ‘Follow your bliss.’ Of course, you have to identify where your passion is first. I hope you already have that! Cheers. – Mike

  4. Mike, we live at the beach, and if laying around on the beach and working on a tan makes one a beach person, then we ain’t it. We both enjoy the beach for early morning walks and jogs and for late afternoon drinks. We take little beach safaris to see what the shore life is up to, but snoozing under the hot sun isn’t on our list. Beach chairs, umbrellas and books – that’s the way to go. ~James

    • Mike Lince says:

      James, it sounds like you have the beach experience down just right. Besides, I couldn’t get a tan even if I wanted one. I would sunburn beet red so fast that my summer would be ruined – at least in the Pacific NW where summers come and go quickly. – Mike

  5. reocochran says:

    My entire life, growing up on Lake Erie, going to Rockport, Mass. several years in a row, and then, when my grandparents moved from Middletown, Ohio to Clearwater Beach, Florida, I have spent on beaches! I could not imagine not wanting to dig my fingers into the sand, as a child. Nor, not grabbing a bucket to collect blue, ruby, green and brown sanded and smooth glass pieces (Lake Erie) and sea shells of various kinds in Florida. I also loved, when I got older, toting a book in my backpack with food and drink, to sit with my feet raised on a rock. On the sand, sitting on a towel with sunglasses on, lotion spread on my body and feet digging into the hot sand, Heavenly! I enjoyed hikes along different islands like Sanibel off of Florida and Kelley’s Island in Lake Erie. (You can view the glacier grooves on that island!) It is even exercise if you wade about thigh high and go sideways along the beach, pushing the water with your legs and seeing all the people, different cultures and interests along the shore. Oh, Mallorca’s beach in the Mediterranean, I got in trouble as a teen ager, since I was giving back rubs (for free, to other high school students on the trip) since first, they thought I was providing services for money and also, since they felt it was “inappropriate behavior.” I looked at my Mom and my Spanish teacher (our clubs had combined) and could not figure that one out! I thought Europe was more ‘open minded!’ Take it easy and enjoy the relaxations of the beach in Torrevieja!! Wish I were there! Smiles, Robin

    • Mike Lince says:

      Robin, I agree that beaches are the ultimate ‘sandbox’ play area for children. You reminded me about the mothers and grandparents here that take the local children to the beach daily, and they are all equipped with their plastic pails and shovels for building little sand castles. It is a great way to get the toddlers tired enough for a nap. I bet they crash as soon as their heads hit their pillows!

      Like you, I love to plop with my latest novel and read under I snooze. Thank you for sharing your wonderful beach memories. – Mike

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