Grab your beach towel and umbrella, Virginia Beach is worth the trip

The city of Virginia Beach has embarked on a never-ending project to dredge that sand and haul it back. Today, this is one big mother of a beautiful, white, sandy beach. Proper footwear is a must. If the sand’s hot, you’d better wear flip-flops, or you’ll burn your feet. At water’s edge, you can barefoot it in the surf. The sand is harder, thus easier on your calves for this long trek.



QUICKREAD

Virginia Beach

Drive time, fly time and distance: 11 hours, 59 minutes, 2,052 miles

Length: 4 miles round trip

Hiking Time: 1-7 hours, depending on the views

Difficulty: Easy



Beach Blanket Skip-Bo. It’s a middle-aged version of “Beach Blanket Bingo,” the 1965 movie classic starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, with cameos by Paul Lynde, Don Rickles and Buster Keaton.

In this middle-aged version, the beach is there/here, and the blanket is a beach towel used to cover the cooler, located under a large umbrella above my lawn chair.

Frankie and Annette continue to frolic in the sand a few yards down the beach, but they’re afraid to come too close.

Oh yeah, and bingo was replaced by Skip-Bo, a simple card game where you only have to count to 12.

Life’s a beach on Virginia Beach — at least between rainstorms. This particular beach is loaded with kids. There were kids in parasails, kids in sea kayaks, kids in diapers and kids in bikinis.

There were kids building sand castles and kids playing in the waves. There were kids on body boards, kids on skiff boards and kids on surfboards, although that’s very restricted.

Although skateboarding may be a crime in Grand Junction, surfboarding is a crime at certain times on Virginia Beach. No kidding. That’s because there are so many kids that one of them could easily get struck by the flying board of a wiped-out surfer.

You know what surfers use for birth control?

Their personalities.

We skipped around other folks’ kids and took great hikes along this lovely beach every day — up and down the beach, from the Ramada Inn on 78th Street and Pacific Boulevard to the Hilton on Laskin Boulevard, about two miles down the beach.

The trip would take from an hour to about seven hours, depending upon several things: the scenery, the number of kids you had to hike around,the number of stops you made to jump in and cool off in the ocean, the number of people you met with Peyton Manning jerseys, etc.

Hikes on Saturday took much longer than hikes on Monday because there were more kids on the beach.

Mornings were best because the weather was best then. In the afternoons, we saw more rain in a week than we would see in Grand Junction in a year.

To get to this hiking trail, empty your life savings and go online to a Priceline/Expedia/Travelocity-type website. Then, drive to Grand Junction International Airport and fly to Norfolk, Va. If you’re on American Airlines, you can go straight to Dallas, then Norfolk. Otherwise, you have to travel from here to Denver or Salt Lake, then to Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Newark, Minneapolis/St. Paul, or some other large airport, only to change planes again for the duration of your trip.

Once there, rent a car and follow signs to “The Beach.” There are lots of them. Once at the beach, hike approximately 72 yards to reach the water. That’s how much sand they’ve dredged and replaced in one of the most amazing construction projects I’ve ever seen.

For years, as Virginia Beach grew, great cement retaining walls protected hotels, motels and private homes from the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Because of those retaining walls, however, the angry Atlantic Ocean reclaimed its sand, redistributing it where Chamber of Commerce types didn’t want it — way out in the ocean.

The city of Virginia Beach then embarked on a never-ending project to dredge that sand and haul it back. Today, this is one big mother of a beautiful, white, sandy beach.

Proper footwear is a must. If the sand’s hot, you’d better wear flip-flops, or you’ll burn your feet. At water’s edge, you can barefoot it in the surf. The sand is harder, thus easier on your calves for this long trek.

Other important things to keep in mind:

■ We’re acquainted with sun and sunscreen here in the desert. Yet, we’re not really used to sun AND water, unless we hang out at Lake Powell. Salt water and waves here have a tendency to wash off sunscreen. Reapply often.

■ Don’t forget the umbrella for rain and sun protection — or the cooler.

■ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’s hot and you’ll need it.

■ A lawn chair is nice and sunglasses are a necessity. My brother-in-law prefers those mirrored sunglasses so my sister-in-law can’t see who he’s looking at (Annette).

Another thing to remember about hiking along Virginia Beach is that you’ll be drenched, rain or shine. That’s because of something called humidity. It’s real.

The humidity hovered between 95 and 100 percent while we were there. I began sweating when they opened the latch on the airplane and stopped when we landed back here in GJ.

Now, however, I’m sweating the lack of cash in my wallet, but I’ll get over that in a year or two.


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