MY BEST SHOT
By Deborah DiMarco, Baltimore
A friend and I vacationed in Phoenix, Ariz., and decided to drive to Sedona to meet another friend. About an hour into the drive, there was nothing but cactus as far as I could see. Then finally we made a turn, and there's no more cactus. Now there's nothing but Red Rock!"
MY FAVORITE PLACE
Time for the beach
By Jill Leukhardt
SPECIAL TO THE SUN
The beach we love isn't exotic. It isn't trendy. It isn't crowded or loud with amusements.
It extends from north Bethany in Delaware to Indian Harbor. We -- my husband, our 6-year-old daughter and often my mother-in-law and parents -- find all we want here. The wide, white-sand beach is just right for umbrella poles, games of catch and excavation by small hands. In season, the ocean is warm enough for playing at the edge, bobbing in close and striking out toward the horizon.
My daughter runs, splashes and swims (farther out than I like to see). She meets other kids on the beach and makes fast friends. Soon, they're digging for crabs, splashing in the breakers or flying a kite together. My husband and I meet the parents and get acquainted at a slower pace. My parents sit on beach chairs under the yellow umbrella, basking in their granddaughter's pleasure. My mother-in-law, at 84, doesn't range as far; she sits on the deck, looking to the blue-green sea and greeting us with enthusiastic waves when we straggle across the boardwalk, crossing the dunes to the house.
My mother and I walk along the breakers and talk meanderingly. My daughter comes with us. She runs from the waves to the start of the dune, collecting shells and chasing gulls. Some days, my husband jogs. He and our daughter often hike to Indian River inlet, watching fishermen along the way. On rainy days, my husband and I sit on the sand, huddled under the blankets and beach towels, watching the steely surf and sky. All of us marvel at the dolphins that undulate by nearly every afternoon. We shower outside and no one worries about the sand. Most days, everyone but the 6-year-old naps.
We share old-fashioned evenings. My mother and I take turns cooking dinner -- crab cakes, fish, hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob. My daughter clears; one or the other of us cleans up. Then, we break out the cards and games. We're silly. We're laughing. We're carefree.
Everyone's bedtime is early. Only my daughter protests the end of the day, but then she drifts away like the tide. The rest of us, sleepy from the sun and ready for solitude, murmur "good night" and slip into our rooms. I read for a while, the lulling surf as background. The sounds of sleep fill the house, not a big one, just right for six of us.
When I'm longing for the beach, it's for the sound of breaking waves, the warmth of sun and the feel of sand. But mostly it's for the luxury of time together, without a plan, but not aimless.
Jill Leukhardt lives in Baltimore.
Christina Chambreau, Sparks
"My 12-year-old daughter traveled with another family to England in August. She much prefers the Royal Shakespeare Company's performances in Stratford to any other Shakespeare troupes. She still makes heads turn when she wears the jester hat with bells we purchased when she was 8."
Steve Luckman, Baltimore
"My wife and I took a cruise to Bermuda for our 10th anniversary. We had also visited there for our honeymoon. Bermuda is a beautiful group of islands, rimmed with crystal-clear turquoise water and pink-sand beaches, and inhabited by some of the friendliest people imaginable. With the exception of a few T-shirt shops, it is still a remarkably unspoiled site."
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