Ah. . . in less than two weeks I will be lying on a white blanket of sand, soaking in the sun, salty breeze, and the bliss that comes with not being at work. Not that I don’t have a spectacular job, mind you. I work at a great place, and they don’t even have to pay me to say that. (Thankfully, they still do!)
Ben, our creative director, will beat me to the beach by one week. He’s always doing that, beating me to the beach. But he’s native to the Gulf Coast, so I guess he’s got that advantage. He’s from the Mississippi stretch, so I’ll give him that one. (Goodness knows Mississippi needs an advantage.)
The Gulf Coast has taken some hard hits. Katrina chewed up the soles of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The rabid hurricane took the lives of 1,800 people, the homes of 75,000 more, and a big bite out of the Gulf Coast economy. The beaches, hotels, restaurants were wrecked. With nowhere to stay, people still came to help.
After a few years, people were coming back to the beach just for fun. But that still helped. Our vacation dollars helped get the struggling coastal towns back on their feet.
Then came the Gulf Oil spill last year, perhaps the worst spill in history. It dumped about five million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf. The oil washed up on the beaches, bathing wildlife and coastline in brown goo.
Nobody wanted to eat the seafood. A friend of mine in Mobile lost his restaurant because of it. In October my mom and I went down to the Panhandle. Workers were still cleaning up oil when we got there, but by the end of the week, the beaches were clean. At least from a distance.
This year the beach has been revitalized. The sand and water are pristine, and I can already hear the waves calling to me. I’m glad to do my part to support the maritime merchants and coastline industry. The beach is back, and I am back to it! (And when I return, I will get back to making fun of Ben.)