Castles Of Sand And Houses On Wheels
It has been said, with humor and insight, that you never know how many friends you have until you rent a house on the beach. But a house on the beach pales next to a house on wheels because even a sandy stretch of heaven loses its wonder if you stay there too long. While it may be the stereotypical summer experience, there is no such thing as a typical beach. The more I've traveled in my RV, the more I've realized that each beach has its own appeal and its own mystique. Each is as unique as a grain of sand, and an RV allows you to experience the variety.

Carmel Beach in Carmel, California, for instance, is all about the stroll. Walk north along the white sand and the crashing waves of the Pacific, and you soon find yourself below the manicured cliffside masterpieces of Pebble Beach Golf Links. Walk south, and you're facing the forested mounds of Point Lobos State Reserve, said to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

On the other hand, at the beach rimming one end of Green Lake, just east of Syracuse, New York, it's all about the water. One of two meromictic lakes in Green Lakes State Park (meaning the lakes are so deep and geologically unique that there is no fall and spring mixing of surface and bottom waters), it offers a milky blue-green hue beneath lush upland forest — a truly breathtaking sight.

Sometimes you want a beach that seems to go on forever, like Virginia Beach and its three-mile boardwalk. And sometimes you want your own private cove. In my hometown of Pacific Grove, California, I often spot RVs parked on the side of Ocean View Boulevard. Just walk 100 feet toward the water and — voila! — you’ve laid claim to your own private paradise.

The possibilities are endless. During our RV excursions, we've lounged on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan (Lakefront Beach in Evanston, Illinois) and Lake Ontario (Hamlin Beach in Rochester, New York). We’ve looked toward the Old World across the Atlantic Ocean (from a beach on Georgia's St. Simons Island) and toward the mystical world of the Pacific Rim (from a mansion-lined beach in Malibu, California). We've constructed sand castles beneath great dunes (at Warren Dunes State Park, in Sawyer, Michigan) and alongside the Golden Gate Bridge (at San Francisco's Baker Beach).

But an RV gives you more than just myriad choices of where to go; it also provides options once you get there. You don't have to pack your whole world into a car and hope you didn't forget anything important. You can be adaptable.

If it's sunnier than expected, run back and grab a beach umbrella from the RV. If it's windy, go find a sweatshirt. And you can also be spontaneous according to what the beach itself offers. For instance, Westport-Union Landing State Beach, 19 miles north of Fort Bragg along California's scenic Highway 1, proved to be as flat and as wide as a football field — prime Frisbee-tossing real estate. So I jogged back to the RV, grabbed a disc and spent the afternoon chasing flying colors. On the other hand, when I took my sons to Head of the Meadow Beach in Cape Cod, they quickly judged it to be a treasure trove of rocks and shells. So we returned to the RV, located the boys' "nature boxes" and proceeded to gather dozens of fine specimens.

Environmentalist Rachel Carson once wrote, "In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is the story of the earth." Every beach tells a different tale, and there may be no better way to sample the stories than in an RV.