What a day. Last night I was so exhausted after our elusive hunt for beach parking that I just couldn’t even tell you about it until now. Well, let’s be honest: it was the exhaustion and the fact that the couch had some sort of magnetic pull on my rear-end during the Bachelorette Finale. The exhaustion, the magnetic butt problem, and the fact that I was trying to be self-disciplined enough [a-hem] to invoke the 24 hour cool-down period after being completely torked-off and not wanting to say something I’d regret today. Or ever. God bless me. You’ll see why:
Having heard from Channel 8’s indisputable and all-knowing Terri DeBoer that Monday was going to be the best day of the month [i.e., the only day breaking 80?], we decided to head to the beach with the kids to spend the day stocking up on vitamin D and exfoliating our feet in the sand. What a delicious thought. We Michiganders survive a soul-shattering seven months, if you’re counting from November to May, of cool-to-downright-frigid temps, lack of sunshine, overabundance of gray skies and oppressive cloud cover. In fact, someone told me today that we actually have more days without sun than Seattle!! That’s right–pass the Prozac. So when summer hits, watch out! We are determined to enjoy it!
Back to my story. Brandon wanted to run a few errands in the morning and I gladly stayed home to get us packed. Cooler, snacks, water bottles, towels, beach chairs. I piled everything up by the door and waited for him to come home, knowing that the later we left the house, the worse our chances would be of getting into the park. Believe me, my dad taught me that lesson very well over the years.
Where was he?
Finally the troop exploded through the door as the clock neared noon. Brandon helped me collect our paraphanelia and we finalized our plans.
“Considering the time, I think we should ditch Grand Haven and just go to Holland. It’s closer,” I logically pointed out. “Remember, I have to be home by 4.”
“What?! We love Grand Haven! We’ll be fine. Let’s just go. We’ll get lunch on the way.” Famous last words.
We blew out of the driveway, stopped for subs in Allendale, and got to the lovely Haven that is Grand around 12:30 amidst the buzz of the Coast Guard Festival. As soon as we got in the turning lane that said “Waterfront —>” I knew we were in trouble. We were already lined up 4 cars deep just to turn. I could feel my blood pressure rising as each minute passed. The weight of the 4 pm return time pressed down on me and the anxiety started to build. This is stupid, I thought. We don’t have enough time now. We shouldn’t have come.
Still, we crawled through the city, past the courthouse, next to the beautiful condos, waiting for the light at the Tip-a-Few. Turns out I should have stopped to, in fact, “tip a few” because getting down to the waterfront took us a half-an-hour! People were lined up along the boardwalk and littered the streets; they dotted the hillside next to Pronto-Pups and clogged the sidewalks at every turn. Finally I could see why: a huge Coast Guard cutter was making its way down the channel toward the throng of eager fans. Water shot out hundreds of feet into the air from the rear of the vessel, but all I could think about was the steam fire Frankenstein-like cork plugs ready to blow out of the side of my head as the day wasted away. Remind me: who’s idea was it to come here? And miss the best sun of the day? And spend an hour in the car?
Easy, Jane. Calm down. Happy heart. You love your husband. Repeat after me: You love your husband.
At last we were at the State Park entrance, rejoicing in the fact that we were in yet another line. We saw the park ranger talking to the other unlucky beach-goer in the white Toyota, 8 cars ahead of us. Then the ranger left. We waited. And waited. It’s only a matter of time now, I reassured myself. They must be checking for parking places because they didn’t turn us away…right?
Wrong. A merciful stranger leaving the park stopped at our open window, returned the Frankenstein plugs which she found crushed on the ground outside our car, and told us that the park was full. Great.
I voted to park on the street and walk to the open expanse of heaven on earth, but my husband [God bless him] thought it would be more logical to leave the city and drive to Holland. Which is 30 minutes away. And it was 1:30. I relinquished any whif of control and said, “Whatever.” I couldn’t even speak. I was so mad. Actually, no. I’ll admit it. I was furious.
Sooooo, off we went to Holland.
Brandon decided it would be much better–that it would make much more sense–to take the back roads. Because, you know, they’re quicker.
By now, the cooler ice was melting, the kids were planning a coup in the backseat, it was hot–and we have no A/C–and we were driving the backroads of West Olive.
What? You’ve never heard of West Olive?
Now 2 pm, I rearranged my 4pm plans out of desperation, and tried to pull my attitude out of my fanny to salvage the day. With Holland’s ranger station now in view, I cast out any thoughts of how we could have been there for an hour-and-a-half if we would have just gone to Holland in the first place. We tooled up to the gate with our annual pass in full view of…the ROADBLOCK.
That’s right, folks! PARK’S FULL!
I felt like Chevy Chase arriving at Wally World. If there would have been a life-sized talking animated creature, I, too, would have punched it in the mouth.
Brandon, of course, started laughing. This ticked me off even more. I started making absurd, sweeping statements I now regret, such as “This ruins my whole summer!” Yes. I lost my head. I totally lost my cool. It was not a shining moment.
We turned around, yet again, and went all the way back to the red ice cream shop and found a parking place. We got out, turned around again, this time on foot, with three kids, two beach chairs, a cooler and two bags, and walked to the ranger station.
Which was now allowing cars to enter. At 2:20 pm.
SON OF A BEACH!!
We all lost our heads yesterday.