“A pincher!” my son Evan said, holding up a crab claw. He deposited the claw into his bucket, which was close to overflowing with the soon-to-be-stinking parts of dead marine animals, the perfect souvenirs.
“Dead cwab!” his brother Zack agreed.
The rain, relentless, dripped off the brims of our hoods. Underneath my drenched wind pants, my damp thermal underwear clung to my goosebumps.
“C’mon, ocean, get here already,” I thought, watching as each lapping wave moved the sea a little bit closer.
Our family recently learned this one weird trick about vacation: If you go to a place when nobody else wants to be there, it’s a lot cheaper. This is how we found ourselves visiting Cape Cod last weekend, when we probably should have been doing something more seasonally appropriate, like carving pumpkins or purchasing the first batch of Halloween candy that wouldn’t last until Halloween.
At this time of year, though, at least you don’t have to battle the crowds at Cape Cod, because the crowds know better.
“How long ‘til we’re there?” Evan had asked every five minutes during the drive, starting before we’d gotten past our mailbox, undaunted by the prospect of frolicking in the surf wearing galoshes and a jacket.
When he got his answer, he’d reply, “Are hours the long ones, or minutes?”
So once we got within striking distance, I tried a different method: “We’re about one Frozen away, buddy.”
He knows that length of time quite well, since it’s the only programming that his little brother will allow in our household. We’ve tried to interest Zack in other shows and movies, but somehow, despite all the encouragement, he just can’t let it go.
|Sunset? Can't look now. Watchin' Frozen.|
“Evan, if you want a road trip to be fun, you need to focus on something else. Sleep, listen to music, play a game. If you want to be as miserable as possible, focus on how long it’s taking to get there,” I said.
Evan paused, and I could see my fatherly wisdom sinking in.
“How long ‘til we’re there?” he asked.
Once we finally got there, though, a little thing like horrible weather wasn’t going to keep our kids off the beach, which is just as well, since all those rotting crab parts weren’t going to collect themselves.
My wife Kara had found a cottage just above a beach that became, at low tide, a child’s paradise, an endless tidal flat, just sand and shells all the way to the horizon. Hours later, the tide would come rushing back in, sliding across the flats until they disappeared. The sea would continue to rise until the beach itself vanished, and the first five steps of the staircases, the only escape over the dunes, became submerged. If the sea didn’t reclaim the beach daily, forcing all land-based life to find refuge elsewhere, we’d still be out there.
“Okay, kids, the ocean’s just about here,” I said, shivering.
“What’s taking it so long?” Kara whispered.
“But we need more shells to bring home,” Evan replied, just as Zack dropped another crab part into the bucket, briefly upsetting the flies.
When the sea finally forced us back to the cottage, the kids were purple and chattering, and all the sand made their skin a medium grit. As soon as they were warm and dry, they were pressing their noses against the glass, waiting for the beach to reappear.
We’re already looking forward to going back at the same time next year.
You can put on your jacket and go for a swim with Mike Todd at email@example.com.