My husband and I have been accustomed to swapping some of our traditional vacations for staycations and short day trips since the Great Recession, back when finances were the only big concern with travel. Now that there's a pandemic, the added stresses of masking, sanitizing, social distancing, and avoiding public restrooms have shrunk our comfort zone even further. This year, the longest we've driven to a swimming destination is 30 minutes so that we don't have to share vehicles or restrooms with anyone. We choose a less busy time, pack our own water and snacks, find a secluded spot, and don't stay too long.
Relaxing at breezy, open waterfronts has been one of the safest and most pleasurable ways to get away from the daily grind during this pandemic, and it's no wonder many of us have been drawn to the cleansing serenity of a sandy beach. This year, sadly, I have to bring up water safety on top of Covid safety. Great Lakes currents are deadly, and they've already claimed dozens of lives this summer. My husband recently lost two loved ones, a family member and an old friend, to separate drowning accidents in Michigan's beautiful waters. It's important to practice basic swim safety on top of everything else we have to deal with this year--in fact, it's more important than ever. Don't end up like my husband's family, struggling to figure out how to transport a body home from a remote destination in the middle of a pandemic and then make funeral decisions at a time when such logistics are extra hard and complicated.
We all have a delicate balance to manage this year, between fun and safety, enjoying life and preserving life, freedom and consideration for others. Go ahead and savor the bittersweet, mellow end of the summer by spending time outdoors--but never forget to respect the forces of nature that have the power to soothe your soul and also to take your life in an instant.
There will be other years ahead of us when we can work hard and play hard. This year is a good time to chill, feel the mellow, plan carefully, take it slow, don't go too far out of the way, and trust that if we play it safe for another year or two, we can have lots of big adventures together in the future. Be safe and well so that more of us will make it to the other side of the pandemic, when we can smile and talk without masks, mash ourselves into clown cars, frolic in crowds supervised by lifeguards, and rub ourselves all over each other again. I'm counting on you to be there.
This summer, Mr. G and I decided to take a modified staycation.
We stayed at home for the most part but spent lots of time with friends and took a couple of short trips within a day's drive. On Sunday, we were lucky enough to hitch a ride with four other people to the beach at Grand Haven, Michigan.
We brought snacks and water. Grand Haven is a touristy spot, and restaurants and accommodations there are expensive. But because we could drive there in just a few hours, we enjoyed the Grand Haven beach virtually for free. (Parking was $3. That's 50 cents a person with six of us in the car!)
Mr. G had a grand old time.
We got our Vitamin D for sure. It was the hottest day of this summer, and the waves were big and choppy. So much fun! The ocean is wonderful too, but it's nice that the Great Lakes don't have that saltwater flavor. Or jellyfish. Or sharks.