A Final Thought: A Fool on the Beach


By Mitch Allen

I received a lot of nice feedback from readers regarding my January column. It was about how important it is to get out of our routines and try new things, so I decided to take my own advice and have an adventure.

I have long been envious of snowbirds. What it must be like to leave Northeast Ohio after the holidays and come back when the forsythia are aglow with yellow blossoms. Now that I can work remotely, I booked a cheap Airbnb on Hollywood Beach (between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale) for 28 days—January 12 to February 9.

I’ll certainly never forget it.

My wife was to join me for two of the four weeks, but another important commitment arose so off I went to South Florida—alone.

The first morning I woke with flu symptoms, but that didn’t stop me. I chose Hollywood Beach because of its famous Broadwalk, a 2-mile, block-paved walkway ideal for walking and biking. Early each morning I walked the 4-mile round trip from 5-6:30 a.m., enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise.

For the first week, it was fully overcast so there was no colorful sunrise, and it was cool (53 degrees) with high winds. Because I never rested, my flu symptoms dragged on for a week. One day I walked 17 miles.

The flu subsided so I bought a bike. I walked to Walmart and found an affordable cruiser. No gears, no hand brakes, no high bar to climb over. Simple and efficient.

I crashed it on the second day.

The Broadwalk has a wide lane exclusively for bikes, but not everyone knows this. Two pedestrians suddenly walked into the bike lane at the same moment another biker was heading toward me. I was trapped between a lamppost and the pedestrians, so my best option was to crash into my fellow biker. After hitting the ground, I popped up and surveyed the damage. Nothing hurt.

“Are you okay?” the young biker asked me. I patted myself down, considered my answer, and said, “Surprisingly, yes.” He smiled, I thanked him for his concern, and we gave each other a fist bump.

When I lifted my bike, I noticed the front wire basket was completely crushed. Something had landed on it and the next morning I realized that something was me. My elbows were bruised, my knees hurt, and apparently the basket had bruised a few ribs. It was painful to roll over in the bed.

Thankfully, the major aches and pains lasted only two days, so by day 10, I felt better, the clouds parted, and I could at last work on my tan. Sunning myself at the end of the Dania Beach pier, I saw a fisherman catch a small baitfish. With his bare bands he snapped off the fish’s long, sharp nose as if the creature felt no pain and had not survived millions of years of evolution to grow that nose for self-protection.

I decided to become a vegan.

It wasn’t that unexpected. My children have been vegan for years and I have been thinking about it for some time. I’m not an animal lover, but I have read a lot about how we treat God’s creatures on corporate farms and in slaughterhouses.

It is very hard to eat a vegan diet. I know.

I did it. For two days.

On day three I caved. It was too great a reach. I should be a vegetarian first. What a relief! Cheese! I lived on thin-crust, wood-fired margherita pizzas for another six days.

Then I caved again.

I’m in Florida, for Heaven’s sake! Snapper, grouper, oysters, and the delicious and astoundingly expensive stone crab claws.

I can do this. I can be...a pescatarian!

Meanwhile on the home front, my wife had the opportunity to adopt a goldendoodle puppy. You may recall a column I wrote back in the summer about losing our 15-year-old dog Bogart. We have been without a dog for more than six months—the first time we have been without one in our 40-year marriage.

“Get the dog!” I insisted.

She did.

I cut my trip five days short and came home. I was battered and bruised, hungry and cold, lonely and out of clean clothes.

There was sand in my bed.

And I came home to that adorable new puppy—an 8-week-old goldendoodle that will fit inside a small coffee can. I keep looking for a zipper on her back where the batteries go. She’s so small and cute she must be a remote-controlled stuffed animal, (except for the sweet puppy breath).

We named her Molly but changed the spelling to “Mali” once we learned from our neighbors that’s the Croatian word for “little.” I love that dog.

With my dark tan and unruly beard, my phone’s facial recognition software has stopped recognizing me; it thinks I’m Ernest Hemingway.

I’m happy I had my Floridian adventure.

And happy to be home in Ohio.


Categories: Smart Living