When you're building a sandcastle with a friend, there are a lot of different directions your conversation can take.
You might guess how long your structure will stand before being swept out to sea. You could ponder if additions like shell or kelp pods enhance the design you have in mind. And you're always, always going to discuss the famous Carl Sagan quote, the one about there being more stars dotting the cosmos than grains of sands on our planet's beaches.
Put those topics to lively work on Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug. 14 at the 84th annual Long Beach Sand Sculpture Art & Music Festival.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Indeed, we did mean to type "84th" — this ocean-adjacent party has longevity, or, if you prefer, grit. (We know, that joke should be taken worth a grain of sand.)
It also has a schedule that breaks it down, pro-wise, amateur-wise, and community-wise. If you want to see what the people who regularly build wondrous structures made of beach are up to, be there on Aug. 13.
Of course, it need not be noted, but we'll note nonetheless, that the earlier in the day you arrive, the more unformed the sculptures will be. Get there at 3 or 4 o'clock to see the turrets and dragons and such really gelling.
Should you want to jump into the amateur competition, you'll need to sign up early on Saturday, and, you got it, you'll need to come with your tools in tow.
Have a plastic bucket? Of course you do. What sand sculptor doesn't? Throw it in the trunk before you forget.
The Community Sand Sculpting Competition unfurls, like a tiny paper flag atop a newly shaped castle, on Sunday, Aug. 14.
There's a place for the youngsters to build sandcastles, too, there shall be beer and wine for the grown-ups, and arts and crafts vendors'll be out at the Granada Beach location. Alfredo's Beach Club is once again the weekend's host.
It's as SoCal-y a tradition as summer staples come, and that a heat wave is due means the beach will be one of the best spots to be. That you might score victory with a here-today-gone-soon-ish sculpture is the cherry on this sundae.
Or, er, the flag atop this sandcastle.
Start chatting about stars in the cosmos vs. sand on the beach, and, seriously, throw that plastic bucket in your car, pronto.