by, Ruth Berry

Vacation makes me reflective. Maybe it’s because my mind is free to branch out in directions it normally would not in the daily routine. Or maybe it’s the result of encountering new sensations outside of the usual circumstances. Whatever it is, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk on the Oceanfront lends itself effortlessly to the reveries of my vacation time. The sights, the sounds, and the smells from the three-mile boardwalk never fail to inspire me.

Between the speeds of 2 and 20 miles per hour, I like to observe the kinds of people along the boardwalk. There are families, large and small, the young children pushing and pulling their parents over the width of the path, sometimes pausing to watch the dolphins or boats on the horizon and pointing at the airplanes flying overhead. They stop at the playground on the beach to let the kids burn some energy. The more motivated ones hit the boardwalk at dawn to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, and almost everyone stops to look at the famed Neptune statue and to take a picture with him.

Couples stroll or bike together, stopping for food or to listen to the sounds of the live music. There are multiple shops along the way to visit, as well as coffee shops, and unique restaurants. In the evening, fire pits ignite, and people gather to enjoy the warmth beside the water.

All day people walk, run, jog, or roller blade, with their ear buds in. The separate path for bikers and skaters is ideal for the fitness-minded vacationers. All along the boardwalk and into the beach are exercise opportunities, including the Hillier Ignite Fitness Park. I am impressed by those who come to vacation and have the willpower to engage in a full-on cardio workout. For those who are looking for mental stimulation, “The Atlantic Wildfowl Museum” or “The Surf and Rescue Museum” are great choices. There are monuments along the boardwalk as well which bear testimony to the deeds of our heroes overseas and in past wars.

Innovation, along with the fundamentals of human existence: the necessity of food, society, and shelter, as well as the need to engage in frivolity every so often, combine to provide the experience of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Within the constraints of daily life, we forget that the person next to us at work, on the plane, or in the store has feelings, motivations, and a character. Vacation, for me at least, is an opportune time to reflect on the nature of people; we are all unique and we all deserve the respect of one person to another. Connection in the simplest form, such as a shared smile, can be the spark that one person needed that day to find the heart to carry on.