Someone in my family, namely my maternal grandfather, has always been on their way to Florida. I knew Granddad had once or twice made his way from North Carolina down through South Carolina and into Georgia and then on down the east coast to Fort Lauderdale. On our Carolina fishing trips he would tell me the tales of great Florida fishing. My grandmother; however, would make noises in the kitchen while cleaning any fish we caught and say, "you just can't get good catfish in Florida. And they have malaria infested mosquitoes there," which meant she was most definitely not going to visit towns with exotic names of Palm Beach or Boca Raton, much less live there.
I spent many a high school class drawing palm trees and waves, and humming a little tune of "Little Surfer Girl"between classes. Beach Boys vied for space between the Beatles in my songs of deliverance from homework. "Some day," I said to myself, "someday the beach will be my life."
My dad was one of those adventurers that believed "like charity, adventure begins at home;" and so one day he announced that the whole family would be travelling from Washington,DC (place of my birth and childhood) to California for our vacation.We were going to see the USA!Was I dying and going to heaven! I was sixteen and could help with the driving across the prairie, the forests, the dessert land of the Mojave; but most importantly to me, I could surf. "Malibu here I come!" I announced on the last day of my sophomore year of high school.
And what a summer it was. Too many fun times to tell here; but one disappointment on this trip changed the direction of my life. On my very first morning in California, I woke up in my aunt and uncle's US Navy off base apartment, raring to get to the beach and check the surf...........only to find the fog.
"It will clear, " my aunt said.
"When? " I asked, clearly devastated. It was eight am and I wanted to see where I could rent one of the big boards.
"The sun usually clears the smog around eleven."
"Just about every morning."
That was it for California for me. I was and still am a morning person. I wanted waves crashing in sunlight at sunrise; and while I had a blast on this family adventure of sleeping in caves and speeding through LasVegas, my next stop in this Senior Gap Year is celebrating that finally someone in the family- me- got to Florida!