Summer Camp Beach, 2019

I grew up not to far from the coast of North Carolina, and as a kid, I went to the beach a fair amount. I’ve got lots of good memories of playing in the surf, fishing with my parents, and coming home exhausted and eating the fresh fish we had caught. I’ve got some less good memories of sunburn, the discomfort of a shell-lined bathing suit, and minor injuries. But on the whole I think of the beach with a lot of nostalgia. Since I’ve been a grown-up, I’ve visited beaches a handful of times, most notably a couple of trips to a place on the Florida gulf called Dog Island a few years ago. This year, we went back to the same area of the gulf but stuck to the mainland in a lovely house at Summer Camp Beach. I always forget how much I like the sound of the surf and the smell of the salt in the air. Generally a curmudgeon, I also forget how much I enjoy riding the rolling waves, though that experience is also always tinged with a little hint of terror (most especially since our last outing to Dog Island, when I spotted a shark making a beeline for my daughter and me as we bobbed along out beyond the breakers).

The beach we visited this year was a little different from what I’m used to. There wasn’t much beach, and for most of the week, the water was brackish and chock full of seaweed. It wasn’t really water you wanted to spend any time in. We drove out to nearby Alligator Point and St. George Island for more classic (and thankfully pretty uncrowded) beach experiences. We also visited a place whose name I’ve forgotten but where we went on a boat tour and saw gators, manatees (including babies), and many birds, fish, and plants. The neighborhood we stayed in had a great pool that was also thankfully uncrowded, and this more than made up for not having the most pristine beach right outside our door. The pool also had some nearby landscaping that a water moccasin called home, and that was both neat and scary (especially with all the little uncautious kids we had in our group).

I did some fishing while we were there and mostly caught nasty old sea catfish. On our last fishing day, I took all the kids who were interested out fishing. By then, the water was less brackish and I could see to wade out and cast beyond where the catfish liked to hang out. My nephew caught a little mangrove snapper (too little to do anything with), and his friend caught a red drum, which we put on the dinner table that night. I enjoyed the fishing but wish I had gotten into something other than catfish myself.

I’m a negligent photographer and snapped just a few shots. They don’t do the trip justice.

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