I’ve been taking my kids to the beach for years now and in that time we have brought along any number of cumbersome, worthless beach toys: bulldozers and rakes and sand trowels and bad frisbees and this little wheel thingie where you put water in the top and it makes the wheel go spin-spin. I have carried these toys in a mesh bag for a mile and back, time and again, all for nothing. Because the truth is that there are only two “toys” you need when you go to the beach. The first is a bucket. The second is a shovel. And that is because the greatest beach toy in the world is not a toy at all. It’s a HOLE.
Sand holes are the best. I know a lot of people like building sandcastles, but sandcastles are horse shit. I’m not spending all day delicately tapping on the bottom of pails and etching crown moulding into the sand just to erect some miniature Camelot that will get ruined by a stray child or dog. I’m digging a hole, motherfucker. I can keep these kids occupied with a hole for hours, without spending a nickel. So let’s do that now.
Okay, so like I said, you gotta have a bigass shovel. You can even bring a real shovel if you want to look like a pro and excavate a hole the size of a human grave. I love that. Please note that some beaches ask you to NOT dig deep holes, because maintenance vehicles fall into them and are never heard from again. But for now, fuck all that. Bring a big shovel and get ready to WORK. And for the kids, give their sorry asses those three-dollar shovels. Make sure they’re all the same color or else they’ll fight over who gets the red one.
Digging is good exercise. You work your hands, and your forearms, and you get to wrench your back repeatedly, which is healthy. But the real fun in digging is the mental aspect. I spend every beach dig pretending that I’m trying to strike oil, or searching for NAZI GOLD, or literally digging to China (Hello, China!), or digging a trench for some sadistic prison warden. That’s why sometimes I forgo the shovel entirely and go right to hand-digging. You’d be surprised how much earth you can move with just your meaty paws, plus I feel like I’m about to unearth a mummy. FORGIVE ME FOR DISTURBING YOU, O PHAROAH.
So you’ve got your shovel(s) and you’re ready to dig. Now, what I like to do is check the tide chart and see if the water is coming in or out. Then I check to see where the surf is falling on the beach. If the tide is going out, I’m gonna start digging in wetter sand. And if it’s coming in, I’m digging a little bit farther inland, because…
When the wave hits your hole and fills it and you get to cry out “EVERYBODY IN THE POOL!”? That’s the best. Sure, your “pool” is really just a puddle. But kids don’t give a fuck. They jump around in that thing and giggle like madmen. Sometimes you can even luck out and hit the groundwater, which means your little pool stays two inches deep forever! Or until the ocean sweeps it away five seconds later.
Oh shit! You dug up a crab! Quick, grab a bucket! We’re gonna put it in there with all the other crabs we found and make a CRAB PRISON. Yesterday I picked up a horseshoe crab only to be told by the lifeguard that I was accidentally murdering the crab by grabbing it by its tail (which connects directly to its spine). Sorry about that, horseshoe crab, but we both kinda knew you were too ugly to deserve to live anyway.
I like to sit on the edge of the hole and scoop out sand from there. After just a few minutes, my ass has made a large and permanent indent on the landscape, a seat comfortable enough for ocean viewing, and maybe even taking in an outdoor screening.
The ocean is a cruel strumpet that will wipe away a whole afternoon’s work in a matter of seconds. That is why you should always fortify your hole with a protective trench along the perimeter. This trench has all the protective qualities of an expired condom, but at least you’ll FEEL like you’re standing sentry over a World War I foxhole by digging a three-inch moat in the sand with your heel. The kids like to then trace a canal from that trench directly into the ocean, in order to fill it up. This never works out the way they planned it.
I love to dig two holes and then make a tunnel between the two. The second I break through, I feel like I just joined the Transcontinental Railroad together. However, you should note the digging tunnels has led to multiple people getting trapped in those tunnels and burying themselves alive, drowning in mouthfuls of horrible, horrible sand. But don’t let that stop you from having a good day in your hole. IT’S A GOOD OLD FASHIONED HOLE-DIGGIN BY GAR IT’S BEEN AWHILE.