To the beach
I’ve never been a beach person, not even as a kid. Maybe it’s because I grew up near the not so inviting Northern California coast, or maybe I’m just a solid ground kind of girl. Regardless, I’ve never really enjoyed the ocean or the beach. Which makes the fact that I just returned from my first trip ever to Hawaii a rare occurrence. It also happened to be my first ever vacation as an adult. Every other vacation has either involved family gatherings or climbing, so I’m pretty sure I can’t label those “vacations.” I’m not sure what inspired the sudden change of heart, maybe it’s been all of my injuries, maybe after more than a decade I thought I’d see what this “vacation” thing was all about, but regardless we planned a week long trip to Kauai.
I have to admit, that as soon as the plane landed, my palms started to sweat and regret entered my mind. What the heck was I thinking? A week of doing nothing? All the other passengers on the plane were giddy and chatted about sipping on fruity cocktails and tanning all day. Everyone told me that I would love it, it was going to be relaxing, peaceful, the best thing I could think of.
“Just take lots of books,” my friends kept saying. Books!? Really people? Don’t you know I don’t read?
I imagined the next seven days like a dark cloud over my head. I pictured myself watching the clock tick slower than bearable, while suffering with boredom just waiting to return to the crisp air of the mountains. I nervously started skimming “Kauai Revealed, the Ultimate Kauai guidebook.” I was hoping that a section magically labeled “untouched amazing climbing” would jump out at me and our week would be saved. I turned page after page and not a peep about climbing. Hiking, snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and so on, all “vacation” type activities.
“Sheesh,” I thought, “you might as well throw me on a cruise ship to suffer with the best of them.”
Before finding climbing, I was on the swim team. Don’t laugh, even though I was about as good at swimming as I would be at basketball, I loved swimming. It’s what my best friend growing up did, so naturally I followed. It also lent itself to be an ideal activity for those 100+ degree summer days in the central valley of California. When I first joined the Aquadarts, I was just a tad smaller than most of the girls on the team. But as the years progressed, everyone else seemed to sprout upwards and develop that handy thing called muscle. My height stagnated, topping out at 5’0″, and I’m still waiting for that muscle thing to develop. My diminutive stature didn’t deter me, and neither did the consistent last place finishes at swim meets. I was a loyal Davis Aquadart for four or five years. Come rain or shine, I would be at practice, the runt of the team.
It occurred to me this week that I had barely swam since leaving the swim team for climbing. Maybe it was some sort of underlying sense of pride coming out, or maybe it’s because I actually couldn’t imagine spending any free moment not climbing. Regardless, a good decade passed until I swam again on my sole trip to Squamish. For the first half of my trip, the temperature didn’t drop below 95 degrees and grabbing granite was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Swimming held our attention for a day or two, but as soon as any sort of coolness crept into the air, we were all back to climbing.
This past week I made it a point to swim in the ocean everyday. It reminded me of climbing for the first time after a break. The movement, feeling weightless in the water, and the gentleness on your body. Between swimming, hiking, snorkeling, farmers markets, and fish markets, this past week was the furthest thing from bored that I can remember. I didn’t take a single rest day, never checked the weather, and didn’t have to worry about skin conditions. I can definitely understand why people do this thing called vacation. And for those of you who are like me, I highly recommend it.