The waves of wrath

“I don’t think we’re going to make it,” I said, surveying the vast expanse of scorched, lifeless earth remaining in front of us. With each step, we seemed further from our destination and closer to becoming desiccated, leathery corpses, half-buried in the windblown sand.

“Stop being so dramatic. We’re almost there,” my wife, Kara, said, pulling one of our beach bags higher on her shoulder.

Rehoboth 2015_0103I stopped to readjust the pile of plastic armrests and hollow metal poles jabbing me in the back. Although we were only planning to visit the beach for a few hours that day, my bent-over back was loaded up like a truck from The Grapes of Wrath.

“If we survive this journey, we’re going to start a new life for ourselves out here, boys. We’ll fight the seagulls for dropped french fries and work the land with our little plastic rakes,” I said to my two sons.

Zack, our three-year-old, looked at the mountain of supplies that we were lugging across Rehoboth Beach for his benefit, and for a moment, I could tell that he appreciated the hardship his parents were enduring so that he and his brother could enjoy a brief frolic in the ocean.

To express his appreciation, Zack held up his arms and said, “Can you carry me?”

Behind us, my sister and her family tottered along, beleaguered by an even longer journey than our own. To get our families together, they’d traveled from San Diego with two children under the age of three. Flying across the country with little kids is the modern version of the Oregon Trail, and while they had a predictably miserable flight, we were just glad that nobody died of dysentery along the way.

Rehoboth 2015_0190Finally, just as I’d almost decided that it would be easier to stop trudging and wait for global warming to bring the ocean to us, we all arrived at the water’s edge. We took a few moments to set up the chairs that nobody was able able to sit in, since we immediately started chasing our kids around to keep them from throwing and/or eating sand. You know that thing people do with burying their kids at the beach, leaving just their heads sticking out? Bring a three-year-old to the beach for a day, and you’ll understand how that idea originated.

As we looked out at the water, my parents, the architects of this get-together and progenitors of all the chaos this side of the breakers, pulled up their own chairs. They actually got to sit in their chairs, because they have earned the right.

Rehoboth 2015_0171A huge wave crashed below us, sending spray soaring into the air.

Rehoboth 2015_0853“Are the waves gonna stop?” Zack asked.

“The waves are the best part! Come on, let’s go get our feet wet,” I said.

We took a few steps toward the water, and I hoped that somewhere in the world, some attention-grabbing news was happening, because sharks sure seem to eat a lot more people when there’s a slow news summer.

Just then, another gigantic wave crashed and rushed up the beach. I gripped Zack’s hands as the water surrounded us, and held tight as the undertow blasted against his waist, shooting water up into his face. A little higher up the beach, his brother and cousins screeched with delight, splashing in the ankle-deep water.

“Wasn’t that fun?” I asked as the wave fully retreated.

“I’m done,” Zack said, marching back up to base camp while unzipping his life vest. For the rest of the week, the only salt water he experienced came in taffy form.

Good thing there’s so much else to do at the beach, besides the beach.

Rehoboth 2015_0211 Rehoboth 2015_0247 Rehoboth 2015_0317 Rehoboth 2015_0332 Rehoboth 2015_0565 Rehoboth 2015_0577 Rehoboth 2015_0595 Rehoboth 2015_0653 Rehoboth 2015_0842 Rehoboth 2015_0999 Rehoboth 2015_0377 Rehoboth 2015_0398 Rehoboth 2015_0508 Rehoboth 2015_0539 Rehoboth 2015_0725 Rehoboth 2015_0782You can start a new life with Mike Todd at


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