There is no E ticket available for this experience.
No theme park in the world, Disneyland included, can attempt to replicate the complete setting, the just perfect warm temperature, the brilliant light, the delicate tickle of the wind and the cast of characters that RSVP’ed to their own invitations and assembled at the same time, 11:58AM on Friday, January 18th, at Jacksonville Beach.
I’m thrilled that I was one of those characters, accepting my own invitation. Length of the event, 7 miles, duration, 55 minutes.
I’d been thinking of today’s beach ride since Monday. And yes with great anticipation and excitement. I knew from the My Tide Times app on my phone that low tide at Jacksonville Beach was going to be 2 minutes shy of noon. I knew from my Action News Jax Weather app that the temperatures were going to be in the high 60’s with a hint of clouds in the sky. And finally, the most important element, when I checked the webcam video this morning for Jax Beach, the wind speed at 9:30am was 2 knots, blowing in a South East pattern; all extraordinary conditions for a wonderful bike ride on the sand as close to the Atlantic Ocean as possible.
So off I went. The 60 year-old Elena stayed home. The 10 or 12 year old Elena showed up. The excitement always new, childlike, the happiness in my body from head to toe.
At low tide the sand is flat flat flat, 45 minutes into the ride, I had no idea I had gone as far as I did. Equally as important the sand is packed and solid, the surface almost cement like so the bike glides as you pedal, there is hardly any effort involved in moving forward.
Today also very few water pools formed as the tide receded. The beach highway was wide open and very few people were there. Our own paradise of sorts.
I did what I always do, forget that I’m pedaling and focus on noticing and taking in as much detail as possible. The waves were gentle today, perfect round tubes of rolling water, moving slow, deliberate, breaking very close to the shore. The cadence and song of the water splashing was a whisper, the orchestra conductor in charge of the universe songs and melodies, she must have been on break today. Everything about the ocean was soothing and calming, like being in a giant natural spa.
The surfers were few today. I noticed two females amongst the 10 or 12 surfers I followed. There were no kayakers, and yes one brave, tall, lanky guy on a SUP, Stand Up Paddle board. It was fun to watch them all, some graceful, some not. One of the girl surfers had on a pink wetsuit, she was like a giant piece of candy floating in the water.
Dogs, every dog today was on a leash like they are supposed to be. Amen ! Lots of tiny dogs. I stopped to watch two Labradors that were in the water enjoying the rush to and fro of the waves. I spotted one Cardigan Corgi, unlike the Pembroke Corgis, the Cardigans have tails. And every time I saw a dog, how I wish Maddie could be there with me. Maybe I will take her for a walk tomorrow.
People watching is always part of the ride. There is always the cast of characters you expect. The family from some very, very cold state, all in bathing suits and all in the water, nothing stopping them from their absolute joy of being in warmer weather, head to toe enjoying the salty taste of the water and the warmth of the south. Today one or two senior couples, walking without the need for conversation, always holding hands, focused on each step, their pace slow.
The beach would not be complete without runners. Today and most always, all in “short” shortsor in bathing suits, heart monitors strapped to some part of their bodies and always plugged in to ear buds. The runners always complimented by groups tossing footballs and/or frisbees.
There is always a family taking a photo, today a group of 5 or 6 were getting their picture taken as they all jumped up in the air in unison, or at least tried. After 5 attempts the photographer finally signaling a thumbs up, getting the right shot. I could tell they were tired. Other families, especially Mom’s at the beach with young children. These small explorers all fascinated with different aspects of the beach. Some running as fast as they could as though their bare feet had never felt the brush of the sand. Some future architects, their castles lined up like fancy birthday cakes, buckets and shovels in tow. One little girl in pink feeding a flock of birds, her loud belly laugh echoed as she giggled every time the birds responded to her spreading the crumbs.
Like sign posts along highways, there are always men fishing from the shore, fishing poles standing tall in the sand like giant toothpicks. Fishing from the shore is an activity I will never understand, other than it must be great therapy. I never in all my years have seen anyone from the shore reeling in a fish. Today the groups were in pairs, some of the men sitting in chairs fashioned for all the patience required waiting for a fish to bite, some standing looking out to sea, almost like statues.
I love all of this amalgamation of nature, humanity, and the songs of the sea, all there front and center stage. You can be as close as front row or take a comfortable seat in the balcony of your mind and be a participant and observer all at the same time.
There are always patterns and I love patterns. The consistency of the waves rolling, breaking, rolling, breaking. The never ending song of the sea, I can’t get enough of this melody. The lines and ridges that form in the sand as the tide recedes, I love the delicate run of these curving indents, some broad, some stacked closed together and they go on and on. What I love even more is when the water washes over them back and and forth, the light of the brilliant sun creates streaks of gold and silver, it’s so beautiful.
All of what I’ve described was enveloped and protected by a broad and bright celeste sky. Today there were few clouds, the blue was shiny and crisp, the color generous for all to enjoy !