When I returned from India, someone I hadn’t seen in a while said, “Welcome back from vacation!” Though I know he meant, “Welcome back,” part of me wanted to say, “Vacation?!?!?!?! That wasn’t a vacation!!!!!” I loved India, but volunteering there had taken a lot out of me, and I certainly didn’t feel like I’d been on a beach with a drink in my hand. In Croatia this month, I was working on my laptop in a caffe for a few hours almost every day. Even when I’m not volunteering or working, I’m trying to experience and photograph as much as possible or I’m exhausted from catching a bus or train every two days. A few days after working my booty off in Croatia, I arrived at the Holiday Inn Resort in Jekyll Island, Georgia. For the first time in years, I felt like I was truly on vacation.
A stuffed animal. A beanie baby. A knockoff brand beanie baby. A blanket. A snowglobe. A middle school research paper. A necklace. Matching earrings. Flannel sheets. Slippers. Pajamas. Proof of an obsession, listed out in just thirty seconds. I’m sure there was more. What did all of these precious collectibles in the nineties share in common? They were penguin-themed, of course.
Three days on the West Coast in December and my only personal plans were to see three sunsets. The first was in Venice Beach, the second was in Manhattan Beach, and the third was in Santa Monica. I’d been enjoying the peace, quiet, and crossword puzzles of my time alone there, but I was excited when I found out a friend was also randomly in Santa Monica that night. This was a friend I hadn’t seen in years, who I used to work with at a seafood restaurant in the summers when I was in college. We made arrangements to meet up later that night and I sat on the beach to catch one last sunset, which I watched while listening to Savage Garden’s Santa Monica (a seriously wonderful song) about 5 times in a row.
When I told people I was going to the Guadeloupe Islands, the majority of them immediately asked, “Where?” The islands in the French Antilles in the Caribbean are not yet a popular destination for Americans, with most of the visitors from Europe and speaking much better French than I do, but all that could change soon. Guadeloupe was featured as #11 on the NY Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2016, Norwegian Air now offers (cheap!) direct flights from JFK, Baltimore, & Boston, and if that’s not enough to spark interest, the internet will also be reading my posts about the islands over the next few weeks.
The small town of Margate, NJ, located just 15 minutes south of Atlantic City, is home to the largest elephant in the world. No, of course a six-story-tall real-life elephant doesn’t exist and live freely in the wilds of NJ – nothing as amazing as that would ever happen. This elephant is made of wood.
It’s so difficult to make it through the winter for me, especially this particular winter. I know it could be worse, since I don’t live in Boston, but it could also be so much better! In previous years, my winter escape was St. Thomas, made easy by the fact that one of my friends has a house down there. We went two “spring breaks” in a row and had the times of our lives.
Growing up between beach towns on the Jersey Shore was pretty special. Our AIM profiles bragged, “our lives are your vacation,” as we spent countless hours working on our tans in the sand over the summers. In high school, I frequently found myself watching the ocean waves instead of paying attention in Physics. While I was the absolute slowest person on the track team (no exaggeration), I enjoyed running on the boardwalk with the ocean breeze in my hair. But what I’ve always loved most about the boardwalk is the food.
Mornings are not my favorite. If I’m at my parents’ house in South Jersey, I’m not waking up for less than the entire house smelling like bacon and homemade waffles. That is, unless it’s the summer, then NJ Beach Yoga does the trick.