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Monday, December 13, 2010

TRAVEL IDEA: BEACH IN WINTER

By JC Leahy

Everyone knows that I revel in a summertime jaunt to the seaside. I adore a romantic dip at a secluded beach!! I relish the bustling boardwalk, the salt water kayaking,  the restaurants, the cruising the boulevard in my convertible!! That much is common knowledge. What is less known is that I enjoy escaping to the seaside in winter, too. The lures of the beach in winter are many, but appreciated by few.
Ocean City, Maryland - Canal & deserted walkway in winter

Ironically, it is the fact that few appreciate the seaside in winter which is the very fountainhead of the seaside's winter attraction. In winter the recreational infrastructure designed for many  is employed by nearly no one. Lodgings are empty and the rates they offer in winter are ridiculous. Find an indoor swimming pool and you will probably find nearly secluded swimming.  Find a restaurant and there will be no little pager to hold and no waiting time.  There will be no lines at theaters, either.  The indoor gyms will be frequented only by local regulars. With the Progressives destroying the economy as they are, reatil stores that have not gone belly-up  will be dying to sell you something, off season a the seaside.
Swimming practice

Indoor pool in Ocean City -- So deserted it's almost like having your own private pool!
For the past several years, Dali and I have gone to Ocean City, Maryland in December, January and February -- before my income-tax-filing business makes me crazy-busy.  I prefer January and February to December. In January and February, we almost have the place to ourselves. My favorite place to stay is Club Ocean Villas II, located along one of those canals perpendicular Coastal Highway -- near the Green Turtle sports bar.  There, you get a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, fully equipped suite with an outdoor whirlpool tub outside your bedroom. The lodgings are very warm and comfortable. Our door has opened directly onto a deserted-in-winter canal, usually frozen solid, and our hot-tub has been in semi public at the canal side. At the end of the day, sitting in a hot whirlpool on a cold winter day in a driving snowstorm is a very interesting and relaxing way to commiserate with one's mate. In the deserted state of winter, public area be damned, clothing is strictly optional. The only hard part is getting out of the comfortable, warm whirlpool to go back through the freezing cold to one's quarters!


I love to swim. The Ocean Villas II swimming pool is indoors, heated, and deserted in winter. While staying there, Dali and I swim every day. We usually have the pool entirely to ourselves. That is excellent for Dali because she is self conscious about learning to swim. She does well with privacy and a little space to learn. After the swimming, her face is bright with a sense of accomplishment. The next day, her whole body aches a little for the exercise. On occasions when other swimmers enter the pool, it's just Dali and me and them. There is no ignoring each other. We all talk. It's pleasant socialization.

This oceanside gym is nearly empty in winter.
There are many indoor gyms at a typical seaside resort town. Some are private, for guests only. Others are open to the public. Everywhere we've stayed, the lodging fee has included a public gym pass. Club Ocean Villas II provides a pass to the nearby Gold's Gym. There's no crowd at Gold's Gym at the seaside in winter. Only a cadre of local regulars that appears every day. They know each other. They chat, sip coffee, and work up a sweat on the ample equipment. But there aren't  many of them, so you can use any equipment you want, when you want, for as long as you want.

Winter shopping at Ocean City is an experience. If you venture out of the key tourist areas, the panorama resembles something from a documentary about the Great Depression. Whole shopping centers and business facilities sit empty, sad, and deteriorating. But in the more fortunate Coastal Highway corridor, the stores are open and they are dying to make a sale. Between the two of us, Dali is the inveterate shopper. I go along, reluctantly.  In terms of shopping preferences, I'm a typical guy:  I generally go to the store only if need something.  I enter the store. I find the item. I buy it. I leave. That's how a lot of us guys tend to shop. Sociologists say we're in the hunting mode, as opposed to women's gathering mode.  Nevertheless,  some of the winter deals at the seaside can convert me into the gathering mode, and then I definitley shop with gusto!!
8/28/2010 - 500,000 demonstrators converge on Congress

Movie theaters, too, appear nearly deserted in winter. They're playing the movies, but there is no one in the parking lots. So, there is not line to see whatever is the latest craze movie of the moment.

How much does all this cost? How much to you pay for a long 4 day weekend in a 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom suite with, 3 TV's, DVD, VCR, WiFi, sauna, essentially your own private indoor swimming pool, private outdoor hot spa, with unlimited gym access a block from the sea in downtown Ocean City? Well, we got a special deal. For us, it's -- eh -- about $90 -- including tax --- not per night, total. But the regular winter rate is $69-$79 per night, which is a jaw-dropping deal for a relaxing winter getaway. I recommend a room facing the canal, lower level if possible. That way, you will have the most seclusion with the nearest access to your hot tub.

Here's the Ocean Villas II web site, if you want to check it out. Obviously, there are lots of other places to stay in Ocean City, but I can vouch for this place.


CLUB OCEAN VILLAS II

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