Forgetting Midwestern winter: Coastal beaches are calling

Hangin’ 10 in Malibu

Spring is approaching. We are nearing the end of winter. However, we will have a few more weeks of iffy weather to deal with. But, soon, very soon, the leaves will be sprouting on the trees, grass will turn green, the dandelions will say hello to my yard again. Coats will give way to jackets, which will give way to T-shirts and shorts. So, why am I thinking a beach getaway would be perfect right about now?

I was looking through some old photos pone night and came across some from a California visit a few years ago. Ah, Malibu Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica. How we enjoyed you soft warm sand between our toes. Oh, then there are the Florida beaches we have visited – Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale.

I am not a swimmer. Never learned (broken ear drum as a kid that would always get infected if I got a lot of water in it). Thus, I’ve learned to become a beach admirer. Seashells? Sure, they’re nice to pick up and look at. Sometimes, we’ll keep them. People swimming, sunbathing, surfing? Sure. It’s always fun to people watch.

A black-headed gull

However, once I really started photography, the beach took on a whole new meaning for me. Instead of just walking along one and admiring the sights, I could document our visits and really enjoy the trips to the water’s edge.

The first beach I went to was Cocoa Beach, Florida, on Lisa and my honeymoon. It was the first time I stepped into an ocean. Myrtle Beach, SC, was the next beach visit. Lisa’s brother and his family live there.

However, as nice as those beaches were, they didn’t match up to a couple of California beaches.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach is full of eclectic people. You have people lifting weights at an open-air workout facility (Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out there in his youth). You have musicians trying to pick up a few extra dollars with street performances. People rollerblading down the sidewalk. Shops sell everything from shirts and shorts to um, certain types of pipes.

Venice Beach merchants have just what you need

But, truly for a Middle of America guy, the beach is what attracted me. The waves washing ashore and rolling back out. Some of them hit rocks with power, making thunderous sounds as they collided.

I love watching the waves crash against the rocks

But, to see the water reaching out for miles and miles, almost like it would never end. It was beautiful. The Pacific Ocean looked so blue.

The Pacific Ocean in California

I enjoyed watching sail boats out, far from the coast, but close enough for people to take in the view.

Can you get any more water lifelike?

Not to be left out, surfers were having a blast with the waves. I could have stood there for hours, soaking in the sun and the views.

Taking on the waves

Venice Beach resembled “Bay Watch” with beach vehicles and lifeguard posts dotting the landscape.


I thought Venice Beach would be the coolest beach I’d ever see. Wrong. Malibu Beach gave it a run for its money.


From surf boards hanging out on the beach to people soaking up rays while relaxing, Malibu Beach struck me as a beautiful area where beautiful people likely hang out.

California girl at the beach

Santa Monica

Not too far from Malibu is the Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica has a nice beach. It’s no Malibu. But, then, again, what is?

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica’s draw is the pier. It’s the official ending spot of the famous Route 66, which starts in Chicago and runs through a good portion of the southern half of the western United States.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is home to carnival rides, pier-side performances and great food and drink. We had a lot of fun there with our friends Mark and Ron.

Not to be left out in the sun – wait, maybe it is – Florida has a whole lot of beach to offer visitors. From the Gulf Coast to South Beach and Key West, Florida is a haven for beach-loving bums.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

We took our first trip to the Gulf Coast last spring. It was a pseudo birthday/airline sponsored trip. The airline provided transportation for us, but the activities were left to us.

St. Petersburg

We didn’t go to a beach in St. Petersburg, but we checked out a harbor. There is something majestic about seeing all those boats in one spot, knowing their owners would set course for the Gulf of Mexico, maybe heading out to the Atlantic Ocean.

St. Petersburg harbor

We enjoyed a fun-filled walk along the harbor, checking out shops and attractions. We liked the view of a water fountain in front of the harbor.

Love the water, boats and blue sky

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach was beautiful. We spent a good portion of a day there, taking in the afternoon views through sunset. The beach during the day was impressive. The blue sky, augmented with white clouds enhanced the white sand of the Gulf beach.

Clearwater Beach

We spent some time on the pier, waiting for sunset. Animals and humans alike took in the sight of the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico.

It impressed me how humans and this brown pelican got along. He allowed us to be within a few feet of him as he took in the ocean view with us.

Watching the sun set was one of the special experiences of my life. The beauty of the ocean, with the pink, red and orange of a setting sun, is just breathtaking. The only other time I felt this way in watching a sun set over water was in Manila. I caught a sunset on my last day in The Philippines.

Florida sunset on the Gulf of Mexico

Ft. Lauderdale

Lisa spent a few days with our friend Sara in Fort Lauderdale during a conference. They took in their fair share of the views of the Atlantic Ocean.

One of Lisa’s views in the Fort Lauderdale beach area was a bit different than our previous ones. She walked out to the pier past grassy dunes along the beach. She peaked out at the ocean.

Lauderdale by the Sea

Lauderdale by the Sea, a quaint community along the beach offered a change from the standard beach views. It provided a small town charm to Lisa and friends.

Ft. Lauderdale Beach

Lisa also saw Ft. Lauderdale beach itself with plenty of people enjoying the sand and sun.

So, as we continue to wrap up in extra blankets for a few more weeks and get ready to go through our storage units of summer clothes, Lisa and I can warm up with thoughts of our beach visits. Stay warm my friends. And dream of your own beach adventure.

For more information on the communities and beaches, please visit: