This Christmas Eve on the Beach

When I worked at the Bakery for 5 years I promised myself that once I quit, I would never work Christmas eve again. Christmas eve is a nasty holiday for people who work in retail – I worked 5 years on Thanksgiving day and that holiday is different. Perhaps it’s because the word “thanks” is in the name itself, but overall Thanksgiving customers were kinder. Christmas Eve though?  Let’s just say Santa gave coal to about 90% of our customers at the Bakery.

My childhood home could most easily be equated with Winter Wonderland the month of December; a place of seasonal magic and fairy dust. I carried that feeling with me into my adulthood, even when I only had a few dollars to scrape together for gifts and cheer.  However, while working at the bakery, Christmas developed into a negative holiday for me. Jeremiah and I didn’t exchange gifts or do much anything festive. Working at a popular bakery over Christmas reminds me of what every parent must feel every day of their life: I went to bed tired, I got up tired, and I continued doing my best while being emotionally drained. It wasn’t a Christmas season unless 75% of the bakery staff were found crying in the office between December 1st and 24th.

If you want to have your faith in humanity restored, avoid places serving pies and bread over Christmas.

Things Change!

Fast forward to now: I’ve kept my promise to myself so far having not worked Christmas Eve for 4 years. And slowly my Christmas spirit has risen a bit – this year was the first year Jeremiah and I decided to exchange gifts, for instance. 

A bit of Christmas magic in the HOW

So what did we do this Christmas Eve? Well, I was relaxing in a chair with my feet in the sand, watching the ocean waves, and thinking about which beer I would drink.

Jeremiah got up early to watch the sun rise over the ocean, directly outside our home. (I stayed in bed and watched from there while drinking my coffee.)

While this might have been the first time we stayed on the beach for Christmas, I do not think it will be the last.

So, what troubles did we run into by parking in the sand?

If you think like 90% of the people that we told that we were camping on the beach, you would think we got stuck. We absolutely did not. Sand along the South Padre Island is as hard as concrete; it’s just not budging! Our jacks didn’t sink at all – we measured ’em when we got there, and measured every day. 

If you’d like to check out a sped-up version of us driving on the beach, you can check out this minute-long video here: 

Driving on the Beach

We did experience the inevitable though: sand everywhere. In everything. The salt in the air caused surface rust on the mount points for the tow hook up. It’s a beach. There is salt. There is sand. 

How’d we do it?

When we first got to South Padre Island entrance to the seashore, we detached the Explorer, parked the Motorhome towards the edge of the sand, and hopped into the explorer where I drove us along the ocean for 2ish miles until we found a small alcove for us. Claiming our spot, we unloaded the bikes and cooler, then pulled a U-turn to grab the motorhome. Walkie-talkies in hand, I watched the tires of the Home on Wheels as we drove back down the beach. About a quarter-mile down the way, we were both confident with how the beast was handling the beach. 

“Joshua Tree was way worse,” Jeremiah said over the walkie talkie as we drove along. Surprisingly, he was right. We set up camp without an issue, with the door towards the ocean so that every time we walked out we’d be able to see the Gulf of Mexico waves. 70-degree weather has never felt so good.

On Christmas day, a small white sedan pulled up in front of us while we were warming our toes in the sand. A couple a few years older than us hopped out.

“We have a Class A motorhome, 40′ long,” the woman said as an introduction, “We’re up at a campground and it’s awful. We’re in there like sardines and the bugs are so bad. We need some tips to get down here on the beach.”

And we chatted for a few minutes, reassuring them if we could do it, nearly anyone could – they promised they’d give it a go. 

Bravery doesn’t equal stupidity, or, Since we’re no longer 15, we’re no longer invincible

A good lesson is that being brave while doing new things doesn’t mean you need to be dumb about it.

We researched the high and low tides and parked accordingly, sought out a spot that the wind wouldn’t knock us around too much, and used common sense to leave the day after Christmas when thunderstorms were forecast to arrive. Did we want to stay on the beach longer? Yes. Was it worth getting stuck if the sands started to shift? Hell no. We were brave. But first? We were smart.

…And this goes for so many things when you’re living on the road – being smart about where to park, researching places beforehand, getting things fixed before they get worse, and planning.  Those times that we get to do all those awesome, fun things are built on hours of research, consideration, discussion, and thought.

Thank goodness for change!

This Christmas Eve and Christmas was not a traditional white Christmas with hot chocolate and extra layers, and I couldn’t have been happier about that. Thanks for coming along on our journey these past two months – we’re looking forward to what 2019 brings!

Check out a few images of our days on the beach.  

Tips: If you plan on staying on a beach for an extended period of time, you may want to plan on going to a park with a laundromat after. No matter how hard you try, your bedding, rugs, towels, and clothing will be covered in sand.

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