Salt Water Sanity

All of you “Trenches” readers who are hands-on sign makers and self-employed business people as I am, know how hard it is to turn your back on your workload, your clients and employees, and get away for some vacation time, no matter how well deserved it is.

But, I highly recommend taking at least one vacation a year, and try my hardest to do so. On rare years, or leap years, I’ve even managed two. And I consider that time very well spent.

Human nature is a strange thing, and what most of us think is worth the cost and effort when planning some vacation time, is to go somewhere where the ocean meets the land and hang out. The same was true for our family, and when our kids were young, we began a tradition of leaving our home and business here in Northeast Texas and heading to the Florida Panhandle where we could walk on white sand, swim in the emerald surf, and I could just read the signs and not have to make any of them. Our whole family enjoyed those trips, and now the kids often take similar vacations on their own.

Lacey, our youngest and the least tied down, has discovered beaches and coastlines she loves to visit that are a bit more distant, and perhaps more beautiful than the ones we found together.  And she has been bugging her old sign maker dad to share a few days of special father-daughter time with her down in the islands.

“Dad,” she says, “It’s only a little further than the coast of Florida and we can be there in no time.” For quite a while she has offered to plan the whole trip, split the cost, and handle everything. And I guess her diligence and persistence paid off, as early this summer I agreed to leave the employees running the sign shop, my boys running the other one, and Sharon keeping an eye on the house and the grandkids. Lacey and Dad would be hanging out… in the Bahamas.

Though we spent a little time on other islands, for three days and nights we stayed in a small cottage on the quiet and lovely little island of Spanish Wells, just what the doctor ordered. Actually, I have been so healthy I don’t really have a doctor, but if I had one, Spanish Wells would certainly be what he’d order.

No hotels, no traffic, everyone gets around on golf carts, and as beautiful a beach and water as one could ask for. There’s guided fishing at the boat docks, ferries to the other islands, good food and friendly people. What’s not to like?

But, and you know if you’ve read many of these “Trenches” articles through the years, I can find ways to get in trouble with little effort at all, and some traditions, no matter where I go, are pretty hard to break.

And so, on the first evening there we came across the area’s favorite swimming hole, where local kids (and even some tourists) jump or dive from the only bridge around, a small rusty truss affair connecting Spanish Wells to the neighboring and equally small Russell island. There, several young girls, with their attentive moms nearby, were leaping from the bridge and swimming in the blue green water of the little boat channel at the end of town, and it looked like fun to me.

Early the next morning, out riding the golf cart while Lacey slept, I came across the bridge and then decided it was my turn. Leaving my ride in the little park area at one end of the bridge, I walked out to the center of the structure, waved good morning to a couple of mini-motorists, and then dove in the lovely cool water, the color of blue green crystal if there is such a thing, and casually swam over the shore where my shirt and phone were waiting. What a way to start the day!

That afternoon, while on a fishing trip with a local expert and fisherman named Ryan, I happened to ask him, as it had crossed my mind by then, since that little waterway and all the water around was saltwater and connected to the ocean, what chance was there for sharks being around the popular swimming hole there under the bridge?

“Oh, I don’t think there’s really much to worry about. I just wouldn’t go swimming there early in the morning, or late in the evening… and I wouldn’t swim there alone.”

Two out of three ain’t bad, I thought to myself. Not bad and not good either, but I lived to tell the tale, and still have all my sign making parts, thank goodness. And here back at the shop, and back at work, I’m surely going to need them.

But, Lacey and I had a wonderful time, Bahama memories were made, and sanity restored. Rested and refreshed, I’m back at work, here “In the Trenches”. I hope you’re having a great summer, getting a lot of work done, and making some special memories, too.


Rick Williams

Rick Williams owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business, Sign & Digital Graphics, and GRAPHICS PRO since 1986. Contact Rick via email at ricksignco@aol.com.

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