We woke up fairly early, about 7 am. Sarah was ready to go within minutes, but I was more like warmed mush. She really wanted to hit the “gym” in the hotel, two treadmills, a bike, an elliptical and a weight machine thingy. With that in mind, we headed downstairs.
I climbed onto the elliptical while Sarah headed for the bike. Let this serve as a warning. I don’t really think of myself as fat, but a 6’3″ and 225 lbs, I know that I am a big guy. Flimsy elliptical and big guys do not mix well. I kept rocking the machine all over the floor, and I thought I would take flight across the room at one point. Sarah said it was humorous to see me flail my arms for balance every few minutes. Obviously that is just her British humor.
After a brisk workout, we headed back upstairs to get changed and cleaned up. I put some cologne on, not really sure why, and Sarah piped up, “Are you putting cologne on for the beach? Are you mad?” Umm, I don’t I know, I thought staring blankly at her like a child who just did something wrong. “It’s ok,” she said, “I put perfume on as well.” We are an odd couple, apparently.
We headed off, in search, again, for a beach towels or two, and then to the beach. We stopped at a beach shop and quickly found two towels for $20, after tax. Then we headed out to look for a beach we had heard about at Henderson State Park.
Henderson State Park is across Highway 98 from the local Wal-Mart, so while the state park sign may not be immediately recognizable for those new to the area, the Wal-Mart sign definitely stands out. We pulled in to the park, not really knowing what to expect, and stopped at the small building that acted as the entrance.
Sarah’s intel on the site stated that we could expect a service kiosk selling water and possibly some snacks and that there were some pavilions on the beach within the park. Her friends also told us that it would cost about $3.50 for entrance. They were mostly wrong on all of it. They did in fact sell water and firewood, and that as about it. The entrance fee was $6.00, but not too much for an awesome day on the beach.
The parking lot was nearly empty as we pulled in to the most eastern pavilion. Was this a bad sign? The idea is that there is a parking area, then pavilions with picnic tables shaded from the sun as well as showers. Then you were to hike your gear over the sand dunes using their boardwalk and down onto the beach. As we took our newly purchased beach towels and made our way up the dune, there was an excitement building, like waiting for Christmas. Was the beach going to be dirty? Was it going to be amazingly beautiful?
As it turns out, it was amazingly beautiful. The gentle sea breeze hit us as we crested the dune, and sugar-white beach stretched off into the distance. It was so amazing to look at. The clear water lapped lazily against the shore and invited us to jump in. It was so eye-catching that both Sarah and I walked into each other as meandered to an empty spot. Some people had mentioned spots of algae, but we could not see a bit of it. It was all I could do to keep from charging down the shore and plunging head first into the water, but Sarah insisted that we set up “camp” first. I know she wasn’t nagging, but just being practical, but I still wanted to run off. I didn’t, of course, lest I run the risk of becoming single again!
After our first 20 minute swim session, it became exceedingly clear that we were not prepared for a beach trip. Sarah asked me to go back to the kiosk and get some water, and I dutifully set off.
As I reached the kiosk, though, I remembered that Wal-mart was across the street, and off I went. An hour later, I returned with beach chairs, a cooler with water and Coke Zero, a sandwich and a salad, as well as some grapes, and a few other snacks. Most importantly, though, I bought a beach umbrella. The length of time I was gone though, made me nervous to return. Sarah has been baking out there the entire time, and her fair British skin does not mix well with the Southern sun.
When she saw me, though, her eyes were wide in amazement. “I can’t believe you got all of this,” she exclaimed with such charming enthusiasm. Me either, for that matter, since it all cost me just shy of $140. But it was well worth it. We still use the beach chairs and cooler, although the umbrella did not survive the trip. We spent the next six hours just lounging around doing nothing, and it was spectacular.