Caught in the throes of winter? Guest author James Greer is feeling your pain. Here are his recommendations on how every beach bar bum can survive the unnatural colder months. Yes, run is involved. Along with tequila. Healthy doses of both.
We are fourteen-hundred seventy-four nautical miles from Alberto’s in Cozumel. Seven hundred twenty-four nautical miles from the late, lamented Cane’s in San Diego. Fourteen hundred NM from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery on Estero Island – Ft. Myers Beach, FL. Okay, the SOB isn’t technically a beach bar, but hell… Two minutes of unsteady wobbling and you’re in Times Square, baby.
It’s winter here in lovely Lakewood, CO. Snow was forecast this morning, a dusting. I just got back in from running the snow blower. Lest you think “Well, that’s what happens in Colorado’s mountains,” we’re basically at the base of the foothills. In the Plains. Flyover Country, US of A.
But my friends often say “Jim, you love the beach life. The sun, the sand… A cold margarita and a book. How do you get through the winter?” The obvious answer, of course. Getting on an airplane headed someplace warm helps. Maybe a Caribbean cruise. I’m a public sector grunt, so the money is often tight and vacations modest.
The stomping of the feet, stripping off of coat, hat, goggles and gloves after nearly an hour snow blowing and shoveling. Time for hot chocolate, maybe some tea? Puh-leeze.
It starts with an island drink. No, not the overpriced kind pushed on folks by shore sharks. Something authentic, blender-ready. The easy-drinking, pliable beach favorite Painkiller is a variation on the Pina Colada, trademarked, its origin at Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands.
Margaritas – ah, what self-respecting beach bar bum doesn’t have their own adaptation of this sand and surf staple. One can write pages, a book, even. Anejo or reposado. Silver or gold? Lime juice, maybe add a dash of simple syrup. A local restaurant is rumored to add Everclear (as high as 95 proof) – they deny it.
We were at a bar in Nassau, asked for a rum recommendation – “Rum Runner.” What we got was not, in many respects, a rum runner worthy of its rum. There’s gotta be rum, lots of it. You need experience the banana liquor for it to even begin to taste of the islands. I was in St. Pete, ordered a Rum Runner and felt the magic. The bartender included a big hunk of pineapple, which lent a great flavor to the drink but isn’t something I’ll actually eat. My second had an orange slice – she was a talented and observant professional.
Make it easy on yourself. The Bahamian Kalik beer can be had in the States. So can Carib Lager, harder to find but very refreshing. Throw down some riblets and you’re well on your way to St. Maarten.
Proper attire is essential. Something generically called a Hawaiian shirt is a welcome, but non-essential part of the moment. What do you wear to the beach? For me it’s usually a t-shirt. You get extra credit if it’s has a 2017 hurricane relief branding, or something saying you donated to the Jamaican Bobsled Team. Shorts and flip flops? On the long, lonely, Fairbanks-like days near the solstice those might be required to obtain the full, restorative effect. Otherwise, cold feet only make a person feel a long way from the sunshine.
Music soothes the heart, uplifts the soul and reminds of the softly swaying palms. One might (as did the pier management folks on Grand Turk) think reggae played as loud as the speakers can handle brings a person’s spirit to the islands, or vice versa. But… Carnival Cruise Lines has a house steel drum band whose work is available on just about any streaming service to which you can subscribe. Merengue, salsa, anything from the islands will have your blood flowing, heart racing and feet dancing.
Finally, if you just have to have that crystal-clear water, foamy waves and the crashing of the sea – any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies fill the bill. But never, ever, get so down on yourself that you’ll have to ask why the rum is gone.
Come visit me at http://jamesgreer.online.
About the Author
James Greer is a freelance writer who lives in Lakewood, CO with his wife Pat, two Portuguese Water Dogs and a cat of uncertain lineage. He and his wife travel extensively, believing that if there is not a beach bar nearby, it is not a destination. It is merely a way point.
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