Four go out on beach retreat

By By Tracy L. Brady, Hartselle Enquirer
A college graduate, a divorcee', and an engaged couple-four people in three distinctly different places in life.
A summer vacation to celebrate each.
Destination-Pensacola, Fla.
As a child, summer vacation meant sleeping late, playing hard and maybe a trip to Opryland or Point Mallard. Parents were a vital part of this plan. Their work schedules dictated how late you slept, who you played with and what, if any, small trip you might take before school went back in session.
As a teen, summer vacation meant sleeping late, swimming and maybe a trip to the beach. Friends were a vital part of this plan. Who had a car or parents with a condo determined when and where you would go.
As an adult, a summer vacation means sleeping late, eating well and definitely a trip to the beach. Now, work schedules and bonus checks dictate how far you'll go and just how well you'll eat while you're there.
John and I went with our dear friend Colleen last Thursday to celebrate her upcoming college graduation from Athens State University. Colleen loves the ocean, but had never been to a Florida beach.
Once we piled our belongings and ourselves into Colleen's van, the three of us played MadLibs and ate gummy worms all the way down the interstate. We gossiped about friends and made plans for Colleen's future.
Not one of us discussed work or worries. It was as if we had inadvertently left all of those topics on top of the van, pulling out of the driveway and scattering them in the breeze.
Our friend Priscilla wasn't quite so lucky. Unable to take Friday off, she drove down alone and frustrated a day after we arrived. He ex-husband found out about her vacation and set out to ruin her fun.
His plan didn't work.
The four of us shopped on the boardwalk, ate tons of delicious seafood, listened to calypso music by the bay, relaxed on the beach, made sandcastles, rode the waves left by tropical storm Bertha, played board games and collapsed each night in our little blue cottage downtown.
Our summer vacation wasn't as rowdy as it might have been a few years ago. We all realized we were getting older when one of us would comment on how little clothing some of the beach-goers were wearing or how dangerous it was most of the boys on bikes weren't wearing helmets.
Instead of beer T-shirts and severe sunburns, our souvenirs from the beach were gourmet cheeses and seaweed rashes.
Colleen dreamed of living by the beach with her new degree and career.
Priscilla enjoyed a welcome break from a wounded heart.
John and I took a break from planning the wedding and spent more time planning the honeymoon. Four people in three distinctly different places each found what they needed to enjoy their summer vacation. And four people returned home refreshed and rejuvenated enough to face any challenge.

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