The freedom of time at the beach is somewhat tempered by the production of gathering the gear needed for the beach. I consider myself somewhat of a casual person. My favorite outfit would certainly include something that goes well with flip flops. But there are a core amount of things needed to enjoy a day at the beach. There are towels, lotions for the face, lotions for the body, sunglasses, reading pieces, water, and if kids are in tow, you best not forget snacks, things to dig with, things to put the diggings in, perhaps things to ride the waves on, and if you are with Walker, please don't forget something to toss. Yep, just like a young pup. He will fetch and retrieve. Sometimes Walker will even slobber a bit, when he gets excited or just because he has a lot of holes in his mouth from a recent pick up in the activity of losing his teeth. Walker will look at you with those deep sea blue eyes and you'll know exactly what he wants because his eyes will flash over to the football and he'll look right back at you hopeful, quietly begging. So the mood is somewhat frantic out of the gate. Loaded down with gear and just getting through the check list at departure. But in my family I've noticed a shift. When we step onto the boardwalk, four sets of eyes move to the ocean. We comment on the break, the color, the air and the swell. We flip flop to the edge and catch a closer look. There might be an obligatory family photo perched on the rail. But then any last clamoring and complaining stops. Our entrance from here is independent. One by one we kick our flops into the sand. I go to set down the gear and spread out the towels. I notice Walker, at the water's edge. He is watching the water lap his feet. For a moment there is no ball, no teams and no score. His intensity is with the rhythm of the tide and texture of the ocean. I look at him and I can feel his pleasure. I wonder at what age I stopped making going to feel the ocean my first stop at the beach.