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I am a Carolina girl; I was born in Charleston, grew up in Charlotte and went to school at East Carolina, so I know my Carolinas. I also worked on a cruise ship for five years, and what do cruise ships do? They visit beautiful beaches. Yes, the Caribbean has aqua water, and California has dramatic cliff sides, but I can tell you after crossing the globe you can't beat the Carolinas for the ultimate beach experience.
The ultimate beach experience combines food, fun, fine sand and relaxation with beaches that go on and on and on. My earliest memories are of my father taking us kids to the beach at Sullivan's Isle, an island outside of Charleston. The beach was wide with a sandbar just perfect for a five year old to wander about watching hermit crabs burrow into their holes. Shells were scattered up and down the shore just waiting to be picked up and carried home every week filled with new treasures. The sand was fine, just perfect for building and by mixing the sand with a little bit of water you were able to drizzle the sand onto your masterpiece giving your castle a fairytale effect.
And when the day was over we would visit my aunt's house on the island and shower up. The best treat of all after a day at the beach was when we would stop off for a seafood dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront. Forget about your diets there is nothing healthy about a meal at the beach but there is also nothing that compares to fresh shrimp fried with a thin coating of flour and egg mixed with just a dash of cornmeal or crab mixed with seasoned breadcrumbs stuffed back into their shells and fried to a golden brown. Throw in a side of crisp hushpuppies with just a hint of sweetness and I am in heaven. Everywhere I have traveled around the world I have tried to duplicate that ecstasy but I can only do it in the Carolinas.
But life is not just a day at the beach. I now I live in California, but sometimes you do get to relive those golden days of your youth. I am very lucky that my best friend has a lovely beach house at Topsail Beach an island just north of Wilmington. I am even luckier that she and her husband love to take us there with them. My friend Penny and I have been going to the beach together since high school when every holiday was a chance to escape to Ocean Drive, where we shagged to beach music under the stars at the bars on the beach.
Now we are adults who are content to walk on the shore dipping our toes in the surf to cool us down. One day as we cruised up the inland waterway on a motor boat we anchored near a small beach at the tip of the island, and we walked to a sandbar where hermit crabs were still digging their holes. It was a perfect day at the beach and how do you top that off? Well that night we ate my perfect seafood meal at the family owned Breezeway restaurant located on the inland waterway. Their motto is 'No extra charge for sunsets.' They made the best batch of hushpuppies I have ever tasted but just to be sure I had to ask for refills and I got to wash it all down with home brewed sweet tea.
That trip was so wonderful I want to beg everyone, before it is too late before summer is over take that trip to the beach, or the lake, leave your cell phone in the car remember what it is to be a kid. Relax, take a walk, swim in the surf, or read a book on the beach. You'll remember how easy it is be seduced by the sound of the sea.
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. This novel about her experiences working on a luxury cruise ship is the top rated casino or cruise ship novel at Amazon. This novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!" It will be featured at E- Reader News Today on September 3 as bargain book of the day.