Posted July 18, 2017
Thinking about packing for the beach: Everything must be lightweight for the tromp to the shore – and as water-resistant as possible. You know all the tents, umbrellas, blankets, towels, buckets, pails, shovels and whatnot will be wet and sandy coming back, so … thank goodness for energy.
Oil and natural gas are a beachgoer’s buddies. Thanks in large part to those two, we’ve got plastics, synthetic materials and fabrics that are functional and durable for beach leisure, yet light on your load – especially on the straggle back to the car or beach house with a 2-year-old on one shoulder. Your time at the beach is made better, safer and more enjoyable because of modern, versatile natural gas and oil.
For a relatively small state, Delaware is big-time when it comes to beaches. Every summer, thousands of visitors make their way to the First State for its Atlantic Ocean beaches – at Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany beaches and others. Of the 8.5 million people who vacationed in Delaware in 2015, more than 3 million chose beaches as a No. 1 activity, says the state’s tourism department. The state also is home to more than 39,000 seasonal homes, most of them near the most popular beaches.
Your own vacation oasis is in Rehoboth Beach, just to the south Cape Henlopen. You’ve just arrived for a week with the family, and the kids start begging to hit the beach right away. That means collecting the sun canopy (hoping the collapsible legs that failed last summer will somehow regenerate today) umbrellas, folding chairs, coolers, balls and beach toys from the car.
The air is indeed salty, and the breaking waves supply a continuous roar. And no kidding, there’s sun everywhere. So your sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement, they’re vital equipment. Yours have lenses of colorized polycarbonate made from petroleum that are durable enough to take a punch (or an unintentional dropkick across a sand dune).
After finding the perfect spot to set up – not like that guy down the way who parked his beach chair (with beer holders) practically on top of an unfortunate family of four – with a little room to deploy all the stuff you just hauled from the car.
You pull out the SPF 30 sunscreen. Getting broiled 30 minutes into your vacation would cripple the rest of the week. Sunscreen is made using several ingredients, including mineral oil, a highly purified material made from petroleum. After making sure you and kids are covered, you wrestle with the four-legged sun canopy. It and your umbrella (brought along in case the canopy legs won’t extend) are made from a polyester/cotton blend fabric, with the polyester derived from petroleum.
Pulling open your backpack beach chair, made from polyester fabric with a rubber handle, you drop down for a welcome rest while the kids entertain themselves in the sand Like polyester, rubber is a man-made material manufactured from crude oil.
Reinvigorated, you’re ready to jump in the ocean and romp with the children. After a splash, the plastic buckets (made using petroleum) you brought are perfect for the finishing touches on your own sandy version of San Simeon. Maybe not that ornate.
One more dip to cool down again, so you gallop toward the surf, on the way grabbing your bodyboard, manufactured from a variety of materials, the majority of which have cores made from polypropylene, polyethylene, arcel or expanded polystyrene foam (EPF). Each is made in a slightly different way, but they all have one thing in common: They come from oil or natural gas. Even the slick bottoms of the boards are made using petroleum products. This includes Surlyn, a rubber-like material consisting of ethylene resins obtained during the distillation of natural gas and oil.
The sun begins to set, and your family trudges back to the house where you’ll make a plan for the rest of the fun-filled week. Delaware makes it easy to venture forth, from beach to beach and town to town. Tomorrow, you’ll hop on the Jolly Trolley, an open-air bus that putters between Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, so you can roam the shore, the boardwalk and take in the rides – plus eat some pizza and ice cream.
The DART buses also make it easy to travel from Lewes all the way down to Fenwick Island. You could even hop on the Discovery, a Cape Water Tours and Taxi boat, for more scenic transportation. Between the Mercury FourStroke 150 hp engines on the boat and the diesel engines on the buses, all of these modes of transportation use gasoline and diesel and oil, for lubrication. And with 520 buses, DART goes through a substantial amount of energy, especially during peak summer season.
It’ll be a great week – sand in your shorts, between your toes and in the ham sandwiches you take to the beach – but great. Energy will play a big role making it that way: getting you there, but also supplying the equipment and products that make your family’s beach days fun and memorable.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.