What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Kathleen DelaneyKathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to tell us what she plans to do on vacation this month and how things have changed over the years.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in a new series, will be out in August 2015.

Next week a lot of my family arrives. My oldest daughter and my son-in-law, and my middle daughter and my daughter-in-law and their two children are all coming to Atlanta from California and will join me, my youngest daughter and her two children. We will all head to Florida where we will welcome Jude, the newest member of our constantly expanding tribe.

Then we’ll all go to the beach. Even Jude.

It seems, lately, we always go to the beach. I’m not sure why, but over the last number of years I’ve ended up on the edge of some ocean somewhere. I’m not complaining, mind you, but find it strange, at this time in my life, no longer able to go in the water, in need a wheel chair with fat sand tires to even get on the beach, that I find myself sitting on a folding chair, watching the tide come in.

I grew up in Southern California, famous for its beaches, but, when I was a child, we went to the mountains for our vacations. We camped in a lot of the National Parks. Yosemite was our favorite. We were going there when they still had the firefall at night and fed the bears at the trash dump. We also went to visit my father’s family in Minnesota and South Dakota, drove through the redwoods, then up to Oregon where we went to Creator Lake, that kind of thing, but never to the beach.

My five children were all born and raised in Southern California and we never took our vacations at the beach. We rented a cabin in the mountains and in winter skied, in the summer fished, hiked, and played in mountain streams. We camped in state and national parks and toured the northern part of our country in a camper, but we rarely went to the ocean.

All five of my children now head to the beach. Either coast, it doesn’t matter, but they act like it’s a magnet, calling them home. One of my boys surfed the entire California coast, the other raced sailboats. My girls are a little less adventurous but no less wet. They’re still in the water from sun up until sunset, their children trailing behind them, or depending on age running in front of them, splashing and yelling as they ride the waves back to shore.

Purebred DeadAnd I wonder, why didn’t we go to the beach more often?

I’m sure there were lots of reasons but they no longer matter. I loved the mountains, exploring other states and countries, but I’ve found I enjoy the beach as well. I love watching the waves, the boats bobbing around, the children building sandcastles, and the mothers and fathers who supervise them. As an author, they supply me with a never ending supply of ideas for plots or just plain sentences.

There is one thing about vacations I enjoy no matter where I go or who I’m with. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the coast of Spain or on a river in France, whether I’m in the Blue Ridge Mountains or on a California beach, whether sitting on the porch of a rustic cabin in Vermont or around the pool of a time share in Florida, I bring a book. I bring lots of books. I never read them all, after all I don’t get to see my family all together that often, but there is always down time. Relaxing time. Time when we’re not going anywhere, looking at anything historic or educational, or racing to make the next ride at Disneyland. It’s time when we’re not doing one darn thing. No deadlines, no laundry, no meals to get, just time to sit, sip iced tea, or something stronger, and read.

Now that’s a vacation.