It was a far, far cry from the Everglades.
I laid on the smooth sand in the cozy Daytona Beach night air and let the warm water roll over me. It seemed worlds away from the hot tent, viscous mosquitoes, and the bathroom lizard of nights prior. As far as I was concerned, everything was perfect.
We had stumbled upon what felt like the greatest little place on Earth–or at least in Daytona Beach, the Sand Castle Motel. It was adorable. And it was a stone’s throw from the beach, literally. The faded pastel yellow of the building was warm and inviting, and the sign at the front read: “Welcome Back.” It was almost as though they already knew you would fall in love, and return to the Sand Castle one day.
The room had everything. Recliner chairs for watching tv, a full kitchen complete with dishes, and even a little dining table. But it was the toothbrush holder that got me. It was just like spending summers and Granny’s when everything felt just right. Although I didn’t put my toothbrush in it, because really, you just never know–but it still made me happy.
We stayed in the room just long enough to sort ourselves out, and then we grabbed a flashlight and headed for the beach. It was dark, but the ocean has a way of speaking to me, so it didn’t matter that all I could see was my very next step and only with the help of the flashlight.
There aren’t very many things that can beat a night on the beach. I let the gentle waves splash up against my belly as I looked out on the darkened ocean and took it all in. I could have stayed here forever. And the best part was that there was no place else I needed to be. We couldn’t help but relish in the perfection of the moment, the feeling of absolute freedom and be grateful all over again for having given ourselves the opportunity to experience it.
This is what I travel for, for these moments of absolute contentment, for the feeling of not wanting to be any other place than right where you are. I travel for the thrill of being somewhere new, exploring something new, and experiencing something new. I live for this feeling and I am determined to capture it as often as I can.
I understand that there will come a time for being practical and not running off on this trip and that (and according to my depleting bank account and concerned parents–that time should be very soon), but you can’t be perfectly practical all the time or life will fly past you on its way to see the world. You have to be a little bit crazy to just pick up and decide to live. You have to be a little bit crazy to take a month long road trip across the country without really having the funds to back it or any prospects of collecting the funds to repay it. I know I have my fair share of crazy, but everyone needs at least some of it. Without it, you are just trapped in practicality (which is okay if you like that kind of thing). It saddens me to hear people say, “I wish I could do that,” when I share my travel stories. I always wonder why they can’t. I don’t believe they are physically chained and bolted to their desks, although they may feel that way. I know that I don’t have anything that they do not, especially not money. Perhaps I have just reclaimed the key to the lock on my bolt and chain, and unlocked it. I think the only thing missing is a little courage; that little dose of crazy that is responsible for some of the more exciting moments in life. If there is something you want to do, do it before you get too old/tired/sick to enjoy it.
Sure I might be a little broke, but everyone I know that is making money, would rather be at the beach right now. I am happy to have this life. I am happy to have given myself the freedom to live. I’ll keep my little bit broke and little bit crazy if it gets me to a beach in Daytona while my friends and family sit in the monotonous confines of their cubicles. I wouldn’t trade this for anything. Not even for the snakeskin gladiator pumps at Nordstrom that refuse to stop calling my name…yes, beach is better than shoes. Beach is better than shoes…beach is…Sigh.
Daytona was a beautiful reminder of everything that is great about quitting your job…
*NOTE: There are no pictures because sometimes you just cannot capture a perfect moment. Especially at night without a fancy camera.
It was a far, far cry from the Everglades.