We were so excited to return to Fort Pickens after first visiting earlier in 2021. While it is very secluded and remote, it has beautiful beaches within a short walk of the campground. So, when Will was expecting a call one morning, Bird and I made plans to walk to the beach, even though there were a few showers in the forecast.
Knowing we might encounter some rain, we donned our raincoats, grabbed Bird’s umbrella, and felt prepared for the elements as we made our way toward the beach.
While we were prepared for the rain, we were not prepared for the winds that came with it or the increasingly chilly air as we got closer and closer to the beach.
We probably should have turned back when it started to sprinkle before we even reached the boardwalk to the beach, but no, we pressed on. At some point shortly thereafter, we passed that arbitrary line of “it is too late to turn back, now,” so we kept walking.
The boardwalk was truly a test, as it is open to the elements, and the wind was whipping right across it. What seemed like a short walk to the dunes, where I knew we could hunker down until the rain passed, somehow stretched on and on. I continually repeated aloud that we were almost there, almost more for my benefit than for Bird’s.
When we finally reached the dunes and a break from the wind, I quickly laid our blanket (that is thankfully water-resistant), we kicked off our shoes, and we snuggled in together to wait out the rain.
Bird has recently learned the word “scary,” and as we sat there with her reiterating that this was scary, I again questioned all of my parenting decisions, as I too was just a little scared.
But instead of going down that hole, we sang the alphabet, we talked about the birds, we took funny pictures, we had a snack. And even if there were a few moments that were scary, we knew where we were, Will knew where we were, and the radar was promising that this too would pass.
After what seemed like an eternity, though was probably about 10 minutes, the rain subsided, the clouds started to clear, and Bird and I packed up our little shelter and continued on to the beach.
We again laid out our blanket and assessed our situation. Aside from raincoat-shaped dry areas, we were soaked. Bird had asked to wear her overalls that day, and as soon as was possible, she asked me to peel them off of her. Once we wrapped her in my raincoat to keep her warm, she was happy as a clam.
We had more snacks, I drank my coffee that somehow made it to the beach without spilling and was still warm, and we pulled out the shovels and buckets and other toys we had brought with us. We watched the seagulls and sandpipers while they in turn watched us (and our snacks) with keen eyes.
The plan all along was for Will to follow us to the beach at the conclusion of his call. However, his call was postponed. So, while he waited to hear what was going on on his end, he was also texting me to make sure we were okay.
Once he followed up on the status of his call, he came to our rescue with dry pants for Bird, a blanket to warm her up, and the backpack to carry her back.
Even though we were having fun (Bird’s word, I was still a little ambivalent about the whole experience), we were both relieved to see Will cross the sand dunes and make his way toward us.
Could we have made alternate plans and avoided this beach disaster? Sure. Am I glad that we went anyway? Absolutely. Aside from being uncomfortable, we were in no danger at any point, and Bird and I stuck together, made the best of it, and made lots of memories along the way. Even in the rain, there is not much that beats getting our feet in the sand and listening to the waves.