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Brandy Centolanza

Freelance Journalist

Contact: ; 757-869-1714

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The One With The Sand Jar

Note: This post was originally written in June 2020 following a trip to Florida that had been postponed twice. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, you would think that deep in the woods would be where I am most at peace. While I do love a good hike and being surrounded by mountains (especially on a brisk fall day), I much prefer seeking calm and comfort while lounging in a beach chair overlooking the shore. For most of my adult life, I’ve been collecting sand from every memorable beach I’ve ever visited, whether it is a river, a stream, or the ocean. I have more than 75 jars of sand from beaches spread across our state, country, and the world. This year, despite the pandemic, we were fortunate enough as a family to visit four new beaches in order to add to my collection (I try to visit one new beach each year). We spent one night on Jeckyll Island, which is one of the Golden Isles of Georgia, where we indulged in a nice meal outside at the tiki bar at Tortuga Jack’s, then made our way to Driftwood Beach, named after all the old driftwood trees that grow right on the beach. It was a spectacular site. We strolled along the beach after dinner, taking selfies within the bare trees while taking care not to disturb a wedding in progress. Our trip also included an afternoon spent sunbathing and picnicking in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island in Florida one day and at Sand Key Park in Clearwater the next day. Our favorite beach from the trip, though, was Manatee Beach on Anna Maria Island, where it felt most like being on a tropical island replete with blue cloudless skies and a nice breeze; warm, crystal clear sea water; surfers and swimmers; various birds of paradise flying and walking by; and tons of beautiful seashells to stuff in my pockets and sand dollars too. We came home sunburned and exhausted with a boat load of sand in our shoes, in our swimsuits, in between the car seats, and in buckets filled to the rim for my sand jar collection. Now that is my idea of a perfect vacation.

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