Our beach vacation is over, but man oh man, was it full of memorable memorable.
First, there was the drive. Yep, we drove, from Indiana to Florida. God bless the parent, (I assume it was a mom or a dad) that came up with the idea of putting DVD players in minivans. We took ten movies with us, and watched ALL of them in the car. We even bought Frozen, because two weeks earlier it was the Blonde Bomber’s favorite movie. But, do to unexplained forces and the rationale of toddlerhood, it was now the movie she feared more than anything else on the planet. She did plenty of screaming to let us know how she felt, prompting my wife to tell her,”If you have to cover your own ears when you scream, you are too loud.”
In a bit of blog karma, earlier I wrote a post about all the unnecessary things we were taking on this vacation, well, about ninety minutes into the drive I realized I forgot to pack shorts. No shorts.
On our way down, we stopped for the night at a hotel in Alabama. We were tired and hungry. We noticed a TGIFridays next door and headed over for a beer and some dinner. It didn’t take us long to figure out is was prom night in whatever small town we stumbled upon. There were guys with bouttineers and girls with pastel “princess” dresses having awkward conversations all around us as they picked at their Jack Daniels chicken platters. They all looked to be about 11 year-old. Damn, when did I get so old?
The next day’s travel was a breeze, just a few hours in the car until we made it to the beach. My robot obsessed four-year-old son, was helping me navigate from the third row, kind of like a backseat-backseat driver. His most helpful piece of advice went something like this…
Son: “Dad we will be there soon.”
Me: “Two more hours buddy.”
Son: “Well then my sensors are damaged.”
This was the kind of help I was getting along the way.
Finally we made it to the Florida state line. All of us were excited, I tried to point out the “Welcome to Florida” sign to First Born, but she read the sign next to it, and with equal enthusiasm shouted, “Lotto! We’re in Lotto!”
The last hour of the drive was through some area of Florida called Tate’s Hell State Forest. As I was driving through the forest, I was imagining some guy with the last name of Tate, driving his family from the Midwest to Florida thirty years ago without a DVD player in his car. He was 12 hours in to his drive and his car had become his own little personal hell. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Then I saw a sign for Bloody Bluff in Tate’s Hell and my imagination really started to run wild!
Finally we made it to the house and met up with our friends we would be sharing the house for the week with. Ten people, six of them under age 8, under one roof for a week, what could possibly go wrong?
Believe it or not, things went smoothly that week. All the kids got along great, especially the boys. They spent every waking (and sleeping, and pooping) moment together. They were quiet enough to fly under the radar a good portion of the week too. Once I did catch them putting each others’ socks in the toilet because they thought it was funny. Also, by the end of the week, there was more sand in their bathroom than on the beach.
The house we rented came with fishing poles, which was great news, we planned to cast our lines in the ocean and catch our dinner. Unfortunately, unless we wanted a large, snarling stingray for dinner (which we in fact caught two of them) we would need to buy our seafood from the store instead of catch it from the ocean.
We also took some late night walks on the beach. We put everyone in jammies after dinner and took sunset walks on the sand. The first night we did this it was great, the second night our two-year-old decided to play in the water and the sand when we were at our farthest point out on our walk. After getting wet, she then decided she was too cold/tired/dirty to walk home, which meant I had to put a thirty pound soaking sandy mess on my shoulders and walk fifteen minutes back to the house.
We spent lot of time in kayaks, which we could take out and paddle near dolphins as they passed by. We had boogie boards, skim boards, built sand castles, played frisbee, paddle board, and bocce ball all day, every day on the beach.
Vacation was great. Of course, my kids didn’t want to leave, but like I told them, “If we don’t leave, then we can’t come back. You want to come back don’t you?”
On the drive home we decided to drive straight through. It was a long fourteen hours in the minivan. Twelve hours into the drive home we decided to have ice cream for dinner. We were all pretty excited as I pulled up the the drive thru at DQ and ordered five cups of chocolate ice cream. “Sorry, sir, we’re all out of chocolate ice cream,” the drive-thru box squawked back at me.”
So close to being a perfect vacation.