None of that for me. I was heading for San Diego on vacation, no icebound ship, no freezing and, most importantly, no dying. And I could even travel with my trusty partner, Gayle, plus see my long lost brother, Jim.
My brother, who's been living in San Diego for many years, dropped us off at a beach in nearby La Jolla. "Follow the beach around the point, and I'll meet you with my RV at the grass hut on the other end of Windansea Beach. You can't miss it," he said.
So Gayle and I strolled south along the beach, which very quickly turned into rock-hopping and raging surf. And it only got worse as we went along. A concrete wall loomed to our left, protecting the beach houses twenty feet above. Gayle stopped atop a rock and stared at the treacherous-looking rocks and surf up ahead. "I'm not going there," she said.
"Come on, it's an adventure. We can explore a place we've never been--the thrill of discovery!"
"Right. I'm gonna take the street around to the grass hut."
"Come on! I'm taking the surf road, the road to adventure," I said, trying to entice her.
"See ya," Gayle waved, picking her way across the rocks in the other direction.
Okay. This was a challenge, and I was up to it, so I pushed ahead carrying my shoes in one hand. I had to wait for each wave to recede before I could find the negotiable rocks to hop along, until I met a young guy on the rocks going in the other direction who pointed at the surf with his swim fins. "Have you ever seen it this bad," he asked?
"Uh, no, I'm from New Hampshire."
"I've been walking this beach for twenty years and never saw it like this. There's a storm out at sea. Normally, you can walk on beach sand all the way around the point to Windansea Beach."
I looked at the mess ahead--nothing but raging white water and rocks. Here's a picture of Windansea Beach I found, taken after a big storm:
My exact location would be somewhere behind that white water, on my way to the nice beach sand which usually occupies the foreground.
I made it to the stairway, but not before gouging my bare feet all over old piles of concrete and rough rocks, then, being bashed against the wall by raging white water that splashed off my back and over my head, soaking me and my highly valued cigarettes.
The stairs were steep and slippery, with an ominous black iron gate at the top. I crawled up to the gate and untwisted a wire that apparently held the gate closed, though it seemed to be stuck. I wanted both hands to grip the gate, so I threw my shoes through the bars, one at a time, clinging for dear life and shaking it as much as I dared..
But the gate wouldn't budge, so I peered around and discovered that there was a padlock on the backside (the "thrill of discovery")--those rich folks were protecting their beach houses from all intruders.
I looked south to the point and decided that I'd never make it, so I looked forlornly at my shoes on the other side of the gate--I'd never find them in the private yards among the blocks and blocks of beach houses over my head.
I had to go back, so I fought my way back over the rocks and walked around the point through the streets as the hot sidewalks burned my feet, limping and wondering how Gayle found her way, wondering if she was okay. At the other end of Windansea Beach, I found her, gazing placidly at the blue Pacific.
"I was worried about you," I said, still wet and nursing my aching feet.
"I'm fine," she said, "What happened to you?"
After I told her my story, scolding her for abandoning me, she nodded in satisfaction. "There are good choices, and there are bad choices."
Sure, she was fine, sitting there in her dry, comfy white sneakers enjoying the view--like the rest of the Goody Two-Shoes, like the ultimate Goody Two-shoes--Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who, with a click of her heels, could conjure up beautiful sky and water and fresh breezes without a single thought of the sharks and sting rays and poisonous jellyfish out there.
Where were MY two goody shoes?
"What are you laughing at?" I demanded.
"There are good choices, and there are bad choices," she intoned again in a sing-song voice.
I grimaced in fear at her words, fear that some night soon, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming at the echo.
"There are good choices, and there are bad choices. There are good choices and there...."