I’m on the horns of a dilemma. Well, actually it’s more like the horns of a blessing, but that doesn’t sound as dramatic. My family has been blessed with living on a beautiful mountain lake for the past twenty years. My wife retired a couple of months ago, decided she’s a beach girl, and wants to move to Florida. This raises the eternal question, which is better, lake versus beach living?

 I have considerable experience with lake living. The water is fresh and clean, no salt to corrode your boat. Where we live, there are no nasty water moccasins or other poisonous snakes in the water to hurt you, just a few nonpoisonous snakes that can be easily dispatched with snake shot. The mountain and water views are spectacular. There are no large, aggressive, carnivorous fish or reptiles in the water. The scariest things are muskrats and beavers, and I’ve hardly even been attacked by one of those. You can canoe, kayak and sail to your hearts content, with no waves to turn you into a submariner. While it’s hot in July and August, the sun in Virginia is not tropical in nature, and hardly ever sears the skin off your back.

Yes, lake living has been good, with the exception of an occasional rambunctious squirrel chewing through the boat’s gas line, the neighbor’s pickup truck gas line, or our Honda Fit brake line. These all seemed like attempted murder at the time, but probably not so much. More an issue of sharpening one’s teeth, and familiar to anyone living in the country.

 Then there’s ocean living. I’ve had some experience with that as well, thanks to a number of summer vacations to Florida. We’ve vacationed all the way from St. Augustine on the ocean side to Marco Island on the Gulf side. My take on Florida is, the water is salt, corroding your boat in a couple of years. This is great for the boat dealerships (no wonder there are so many), but not so good for your budget, assuming you think you really need a boat. There are poisonous snakes everywhere, in every dune, marsh and pond. This makes up 110% of Florida from what I can tell. The ocean and beach views are often spectacular. However, there are some rather large, carnivorous fish (called sharks) and reptiles (called alligators) in the water, depending on whether you choose to go swimming in the ocean or the marsh lakes.

There are also waves, that can hurt if not approached with caution.  But, at my age I’m sitting on the beach in a comfy chair reading a good book and watching other people get the crap knocked out of them by the waves. You can canoe, kayak and sail to your heart’s content.  Just don’t fall out of the boat (see above reference to fish and reptiles). In July and August, the subtropical sun will, in fact, sear the skin off your back if you don’t use PF-1000 suntan lotion. (Perhaps I exaggerate a little here, but I’ve had a couple of doozy sunburns). As for squirrels, I’m thinking the alligators and poisonous snakes keep that population under control.

 Funny story; there’s apparently a lake somewhere south of St. Augustine called Jesup Lake (no relation to my family name, Jessop). It is here that the Florida conservation officers release all of the rogue alligators that they capture when called by terrified residents to come remove them from their property. So, Jesup Lake is entirely infested with gators. My wife informed me that, in addition to lots of early morning walks on the beach, we are going to go canoeing on Jesup Lake. This is apparently one of her bucket list things. (Help me).

 As I sit here and ponder this eternal question of lake versus beach living, I’m thinking lake sounds pretty darned good. So, my next blog will most likely come to you from St. Augustine, Florida. I’m sure you’ve all heard the old adage, happy wife, happy life:)