I don’t have many days off given my travel schedule. Thus, I don’t take vacations, especially those that involve even more travel. When I have free time, I like to stay close to home. I don’t mind driving a bit if there is a reward at the end of the journey. Fortunately, a couple of short hours will take me to the beach. Here is where you will find me on a rare day off. I am susceptible, as much as anyone else, to fun in the sun. All you have to do is be prepared.

You know what you need: sunglasses to shield your eyes from the inevitable glare, sun tan lotion that lasts for hours, a thermos or a cooler for your water and snacks, a large towel, and a good beach umbrella for shade. A fold up beach chair is optional, but the umbrella is a must. I have a reliable one that doesn’t let me down. It doesn’t have to be huge, but enough to cover your body if you are prone to sunburn. Unless you have recently acquired your summer tan, you will want to be cautious. Don’t think that the suntan lotion is enough unless it has a high SPF. Use the umbrella for extra protection.

I like an umbrella that won’t turn inside out. I hate it when the metal spokes bend. I also like a waterproof fabric that can hold up to the elements. I want to be able to fold it up quickly when it is time to go. I have had many cheap versions with negative results. I learned my lesson. Now I have quality which you need, even at the beach. Don’t assume that just anyone one will do because you are sitting on the sand.

Recently I made a new friend at the beach because of the umbrella. She came over and asked me if she could share it. She was getting rather red and said she would have to leave if she didn’t get some protection. I was glad to oblige. The umbrella is a bit small compared to a city rain model, but we fit together by getting close. It made it easy to talk and also have a snack from my filled cooler. We found that we had a lot in common. I was happy as a clam that she asked for my mobile phone number and email address. Would she contact me in the future? I hoped so.

The new female friend did contact me and we got together once again. I credit the umbrella completely. It is hard to meet new people, especially if you are sitting all my yourself on a small patch of sand. If you want more than sun protection, by all means get yourself a nice umbrella and make eye contact with passersby. Every day at the beach is glorious, but some are better than others. I love a respite from work and all the travel that is required.