Article by Jennie Hall-Frantz | Owl Staff

HCC students from left to right: Jennie Hall-Frantz, Roger Newcomb, and Luke Teigue and Journalism Club Advisor Claudia Brown.

Ocean City.

Some may take it for granted, but for me, it is a paradise. I lived here from 1986-1987, working at the Gold Coast and Ocean Plaza Mall for a T shirt shop. I can breathe free now that I’m visiting my old home.

It’s been nine years since I’ve been to the beach, but it was worth the wait. I returned in June this year as a member of HCC’s Journalism Club on a student trip to film “Beach Trip on a Budget” for Owl Magazine.

The pandemic affected everyone’s vacation plans for the last two years and it was great to see people living life again. Last year I was bound and determined to smell salt air again. My husband doesn’t like the beach or believe in “wasting money” on vacations. I haven’t pushed it. The truth is he just wants me to be happy so if I want to go with a group of friends I can, and after being here, I know I need to.

The beach gives me a chance to restore my sense of balance.

Now, I sit on an ocean front balcony, listening to my fellow student’s guitar from the neighboring room. The waves serenade me, pulling me back to why I love it so much here.

The sea is a mighty fortress, mysterious, but at the beach, she’s our best friend. We dip our toes into her, dive through her waves, or ride them to the beach. The sound of the waves is soothing to the soul and assuages anxiety. People have sound machines with audio of waves crashing to help relax and sleep. We worship her for good reason. The seas have been known to possess calming properties for ages.

Our first day began with a stop at Assateague Island on our way to Ocean City. I got to return to my favorite memory with both of my children, back when things were normal before all hell broke loose. It felt so grounding.

Assateauge State Park is special. From the Visitor’s Center, my kids and I would take (and then push) our bikes until we met the crest to the pedestrian bridge to Assateaugue. After that we went down to our campground. We would spend time at the Visitors Center learning about and touching many cool things.

Today when we crossed the bridge, we saw ponies for our video. We went to the beach and got an interview and then another one from a wedding! I dug my feet into the sand and took pictures. It felt so good to be back to my “home away from home.” This needs to become my much-needed habit, for my own mental wellness. Our interviewees also said that it was important to their own wellness and balanced life.

Tomorrow, we will go to the boardwalk. Just coming into town, I felt like a kid again. It’s been far too long but it feels worth the while.

“This trip brought old and new memories together. I can’t tell you how many times I thanked God for being there for this opportunity, and I would take in a big breath each time, in gratitude.”

We’re staying at The Carousel Oceanfront Hotel, which is close to the mall where I worked when I lived here for a year and a half.

On our second day here, we got to work more independently interviewing six people on the boardwalk. I was so excited to be here with the HCC Journalism Club because we have some seriously good advisors, and we work well as a creative team.

I also watched the guys in the club catch a fish from my balcony with my monocular. I thought I would be on the beach more but I’m just happy having this ocean front balcony to write from. This is not something I could ever afford, but during the week, and while the kids are still in school, the discounts are deep.

On our third day, we went on the OC Rocket, a cigarette boat that took us up the coast to 100th street. The most amazing part for me was coming out of the inlet, seeing the north aspect of Assateague, which I don’t normally see, and then the inlet parking and rides on the boardwalk.

The most spectacular part of this trip was when we came across pods of dolphins, including babies. They were everywhere, it seemed. I have swam/snorkeled within 50 feet of them, but this was better. I got to get video and pictures!

We had just eaten dinner at the hotel and were getting ready to shoot the movie on the beach when we received word the movie had been canceled, so I took a very hot shower while the guys and Claudia cooled it on the ice. Ice rink, that is…it’s in the hotel!

I was feeling the trip wear on my body, but then remembered that we started with beach volleyball before we went on the bumpy boat ride. Later in the night, the guys schooled some hotel guests on cornhole.

As I filmed a short sequence from my balcony at night, I felt so at peace and realized that I don’t need to join the activities. I just enjoy filming them. It makes me so happy to get good shots of video or photography.

I realized that this working vacation has been like an escape; staying in my own oceanfront room has been a breath of fresh air. I kept the door open to listen to the waves and smell the sea air. Right outside were palm trees, fire pits, volleyball court, cornhole, two restaurants and a bar. In addition to the ice-skating rink, there was an indoor pool and outdoor pool, bouncy house, and pirate ship for kids. The hotel has good sized balconies, two queens, a kitchenette and Food Lion is across the street.

I always camped at Assateague and though I loved the experience, it’s nice to walk to your own bathroom in the middle of the night.

This trip brought old and new memories together. I can’t tell you how many times I thanked God for being there for this opportunity, and I would take in a big breath each time, in gratitude. Then I would think about the college providing this amazing beach trip on a budget, to show that nice places have good deals, too.

I recognized the immense benefits of an ocean front room, and the mental wellness was well worth it; the serenity, balance, and energy helped immensely.

We all found what we were looking for, but the best quote I heard was, “The best part of the beach is getting there!”

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