Thursday, October 26, 2006

Life's a Beach

My grandpa taught high school art for one of the craziest cities in San Bernardino County. Back when my mom went there, some of the girls in gangs would hide razor blades in their bouffant hairdos. Ok, so most cities in San Berdue are crazy. Heat and wind and dirt will do that to a person. What does this have to do with the price of cheese in China*? Not a darn thing. Only to say that each year, my grandpa and his crazy teacher friends would gather every October to camp at this little known state beach on the southern tip of Orange County. Tradition. For decades. All the kids of the teachers would go, and then the boyfriends and girlfriends would attend. Soon, the grandbabies (that would be me) became a part of the tradition. I remember meeting up with another one of the grandkids and we'd raid the campers of the other's grandparent to see what kind of good junk food they had stashed. We'd ride bikes along the paths when it was dark, only a glow stick to light the way. We'd made that awful trek down the 45 degree pathway to the beach. Ok, so maybe it wasn't really 45 degrees but close. My grandpa (remember, art teacher) would always, always sculpt a naked mermaid in the sand. The teachers would gather in the fun and there would be turtles, whales and other sea creatures all made out of mounds of sand on the beaches of San Clemente. We'd come back up that hill, gather around the camp fire and eat and eat and eat. Steak and potatoes, every year. We'd hop around to each other's sites to see what was for dinner and come together as a group for dessert. Every October. And then things started happening. One by one the men and women passed away. My grandma was one of the first at only 61. The grandbabies grew up and moved away. Other teachers retired and moved. Things weren't the same. My grandpa remarried and his new wife, unlike my grandma who would go out to the lake to fish, while wearing a bikini in her fifties, is verrrry prudish. The Amish have pictures of her above their fireplaces. No sun. It's bad for the skin. No beach water. It will mess up my hair. No bike riding. She mostly stayed in the camper with her obnoxious dog. It wasn't fun anymore. Everyone missed the old days. The tradition went on pause indefinitely.

My mom and I have tried to create a new tradition for the first week in October, but someONE always seems to be gone, or just getting home during that time. And frankly, I cannot handle all the details and the kids without him here so we haven't quite made it. This year, however, grandpa made it back to San Clemente. There were no other teachers. Just him and his wife (sans dog...she went to doggy purgatory) and the motorhome. There were no nude sandsculptures (she would disapprove). We did all walk down to the beach, which has been made much easier to travel. She took my kids to dip their feet in the water. Amazing. We had steak and ate and ate and ate. We sat around the campfire. We didn't have anyone to share dessert with, we didn't ride bikes by glowstick, but we still had fun and my kids had a blast.

Here's the beginning of the journey down to the beach:

Trey walking down the path most traveled

This is looking up north towards Dana Point

The prissy new wife with my kids

Leah's shadow and foot prints

YAY! I did it! I survived the walk back up!

No doubt, getting life lessons, be true or false, from great-grandpa

Although I wish that things were the same as they were when I was a kid, I'm glad we still get to go, and that my kids are participating in something that three other generations of the family have as well.

*Yes, I know it should be 'tea' but how interesting is that?


Judy said...

Wow, those beach pics are amazing!

Beach in Texas (at least over by Galveston is not near as pretty. Now, beach at South Padre is quite decent, and Corpus Christi is okay most of the year, too.

Good memories for your kids!

Manda said...

Hey recognize that place. We used to go there all the time when my grandma lived in Dana Point. I miss those days. It looks like you guys had a grea time. Glad you did! I miss you!

Shelley said...

Sounds like you guys had a good time even though everything wasn't the same as it was before. Not too many beaches in Nashville, so I'm loving the beach pics.

Andrea said...

Wow! I think we went there a few times too. Don't think we ever stayed the night but went for a day trip. And I'm pretty sure I remember a nude mermaid or two. Miss you!!