The woman - I later learned her name is Charlotte - impressed me. It's not easy to walk on the sand even if you're young and in good shape. But this woman, who I'm guessing was around my age in her 60s, was navigating the ground's soft, uneven surface with quiet determination.
After a couple mornings of crossing paths - me on my recumbent 'fun cycle' and she on slow but steady footsteps - I stopped to say hello. I had just taken a picture of the sunrise and after reviewing it in my camera, realized I had inadvertently included Charlotte in the picture. I was happy with how the picture came out and thought she might like it too so I stopped to ask if I could email her a copy.
My fellow early riser agreed, gave me her email address and we got to talking. A snowbird whose main home is in Indiana, Charlotte also owns a beachside condo that she visits for the month of February. When I asked her how far she walks on the beach she indicated a stretch of sand covering about a mile, a good distance to travel, especially with a cane.
Of all the things I like about biking on the beach, unexpected encounters tops the list. Sometimes it's spotting a new bird, seeing a dolphin, manatee, horseshoe crab or manta ray in the surf or watching a fisherman catch and release a small shark.
I once saw a longhaired banjo player plucking out a tune knee-deep in water, have rescued numerous left-behind 'treasures' in the sand and have collected more pretty shells than I probably need.
But getting to know another early riser, a dedicated individual who, like myself, appreciates the quiet wonders of a beachside sunrise is always a very special gift.