Rockwall Herald-Banner (Texas)


May 29, 2014

A much-needed summer vacation is in sight

My summer vacation is quickly approaching... just not quickly enough.  Yep, only one more week until I’m laying on a white sand beach looking out at a perfectly blue ocean, and generally just not having a care in the world.

Where is this paradise I speak of? A little place called Bimini, an island only a 30-minute plane ride away from Fort Lauderdale.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous place. Well, the beaches are gorgeous, but the island itself is nothing fancy, really.

Separated into a north and south section, Bimini is home to a shark lab, several bars and restaurants, and other tourist-type of shops and things. It may not sound like much, but the atmosphere just makes you feel like you’re somewhere miles away from the everyday hustle and bustle of the states.

I’ve been there a couple of times before, but each was so long ago...

The first time I went, I got a taste of everything Bimini had to offer. I stood in a pool of baby nurse sharks down at the shark lab. They swam around my feet and the whole time I kept thinking what I would do if one of them bit my toe off.

But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Sharks, for the most part, are misunderstood creatures. In that way, I can kind of relate to them.

I believe that was also the time that my late aunt was offering to give each one of us a free buzzcut. I had hair almost down to my shoulders at that point in time, and it may me feel more like an islander, so I declined.

We all posed out on the dock of their Bimini beach house afterward, showing off all of our — well, their — shaved heads. I’m proud to say that I was the only guy in that picture sporting long locks.

This year’s trip will be different, though. Not bad different, just different.

First of all, the whole trip was planned so that we could spread my aunt’s ashes out in the waters of her beach.

While I’m sure there will be more than a few tears shed during the event, I hope the experience will help to reinforce all of the fond memories I have of her, especially in Bimini.

My aunt sure knew how to have a good time, but especially when she was on her beach in Bimini.

Also, I’m going to buzz my head before I go; I’ve made up my mind.

My family and I have been planning this trip for a while now, and we still haven’t ironed out all the wrinkles, but our road trip down to Fort Lauderdale might include an excursion down to Miami as well.

In all the years that I’ve been vacationing in Florida, I’ve never been to Miami before. Hopefully the Heat are still playing so that we can score some tickets. But that’s probably wishful thinking at this point, seeing as how if they are still playing, that will mean they’re in the finals and tickets will be sky high most likely.

Not that I mind. By the time we reach Florida, I’ll probably be too wiped out to want to do much of anything.

It takes about 18 hours to drive to Fort Lauderdale from Heath, or so I’ve been told. That includes restroom and eating stops.

Either way, it’s a long drive. Luckily, our group of five will have places to stop and see along the way in order to break up the monotony. Plus, I’ll be working on my screenplay, and I have several books I’m still trying to get through, so I shouldn’t get bored.

And the driving... I’ve been informed recently that we might be renting a Dodge van for the trip. I’ve never really enjoyed driving large vehicles. Heck, I drive a Dodge Dart, a far cry from an SUV or van but in my opinion much more comfortable to drive.

Good thing I’m a lead foot, maybe we’ll get there faster.

The hardest part about this whole thing will be (and has been) the wait before we can hit the road. One more week, just one more week...

Austin Wells is a reporter for the Rockwall Herald-Banner and Royse City Herald-Banner. He can be reached via email at

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