I’m on vacation in Florida with my Mom, and we are visiting my Uncle at his condo down here. So far the trip has been great. We got rained out today, and I wondered if the storm and the waves would have swished any treasures up onto the beach. It’s hard to find intact shells here. There is a beach Zamboni (a tractor with a huge rake on it) that combs the beach every morning, ruining any chance of finding anything cool. So I thought that if went out at night after the storm and the waves, but before the Zamboni, I might have a better chance for success.

I set out with a tiny, but bright flashlight that Mom gave me, and began walking the beach. I came upon a lot of flotsam. Leaves, dead seaweed, and tons of sea-bubble-froth that is created when waves filled with pollutants crash against the sand over and over. Needless to say, it was not exactly a magical walk. It was a little bit gross. And kind of scary.

I scanned the sand with my flashlight, hoping to see a crab scuttling along, or perhaps a mother turtle making it’s way to lay it’s eggs. Maybe I would see a beached dolphin that I could help back into the water! Clearly, I have been watching too much TV, and had expectations that were ridiculously too high.

At last, after a few hundred meters of gunk, I stumbled upon a shell. It was common, but intact. It looked like it had a hole for a piercing that someone ripped it out. I brushed off the sand and pocketed it.

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Inspired by this find, and like a gambler fueled by a 300-coin win at the penny slots, I trudged on. The waves began crashing harder against the sand, pushing sandy water and flotsam over my feet. I began to walk higher on the sand. With my little flashlight swinging back and forth to reveal potential goodies, I walked, and walked, and walked.

Aha! Another shell! I turned it over on the sand. It looked relatively nice, except all of the pearlescent colouring had been worn off by time and tide. I brushed it off and walked on, hoping for something bigger and better.

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It wasn’t long before if came across the next marker on my tour-de-beach.

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I found this overzealous fish, who swam too far with the waves. He asked a friend for directions and went left instead of right. With the few last flips of his fins, he realized that the ocean was the other way, but it was too late. This is definitely the prettiest dead fish I have ever seen. Fresh carcasses, in my opinion, are the best carcasses. Remember that life lesson.

Somewhat discouraged by the lack of sea-shelly goodness, I decided not to walk too much further. But, like a hungry three-year-old who finds a moist candy in the dirt and pops it victoriously into their mouth, I put my flashlight to work and kept looking for more. My second last find is what encouraged me to walk that little bit further to find the most unexpected “brought-in-by-the-waves-treasure”.

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This little dune buggy was being pushed around on the beach by a young, Norwegian boy who was making a badly shaped sand castle by the surf. Jørgen looked up for a moment when his mother called him, and a crab snatched the dune buggy from his hand and ran away. For weeks, the giant crab, named Lars, could be seen holding the dune buggy in his pincers and driving it along the beach. Several tourists and locals tried getting it away from him with no luck. Eventually, Lars was caught off guard by a pelican, named Elvis. When Lars opened his pincers in surprise, the dune buggy was whisked away in the waves, only to resurface after the storm.

I definitely think that’s exactly how the dune buggy got there. Roll with it.

Charged up by the dune buggy score, and sure that I was going to find something spectacular soon, I adventured on (yes, that’s a word, I have decided!).

The waves crashed. The sea air filled my nostrils. Somewhere, a lone gull cried out, because he was out past dark and had lost his way home. My footsteps gently pushed the sand aside as I walked on. All of a sudden, my flashlight revealed a large lump in the sand ahead. My heart leapt – A GIANT CONCH SHELL?! As I stepped closer, I saw…

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This last beach “treasure” I came across was completely from left field. I’ve heard the saying about rats fleeing a sinking ship, but I didn’t think it actually happened. I guess this guy just didn’t make it. Or girl… Is that a nipple? I took the time to crouch down near him (or her, as the case may be) and take not one, but two photos. You never know what angle might work best.

Needless to say, that was the point at which I gave up. I walked hurriedly in the dark back across the beach, trying to avoid stepping on any broken shells that might stab my feet or anything worse I could step in. And you now know what I saw on my midnight beach stroll, so you can only imagine what else I worried that i might discover by stepping in it.

I stopped once to put my feet into the water and feel the waves on my ankles and the sand between my toes. I took a moment to breathe in the ocean air, to enjoy the peaceful waves and the quiet, empty beach.

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I’d say that all-in-all, the midnight beach stroll was a success.

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