I just realized I didn’t post this. It is part two of our summer travels. Never a dull moment in my family!
Whew. Do you have any idea how long 14 hours in a car with two children can be? It can seem more like 114. Thankfully, our time wasn’t like that the whole trip. We just got back from a lovely family vacation to the beaches in Florida. I found a condo for rent that was right on the beach. And amazingly enough, my husband was able to get the time off from work. You see, he actually gets 4 weeks of vacation a year, the problems with that are 1. getting him to actually take it, and 2. finding a good time between busy times at work. Last year, he left at least a week of vacation on the board because he just didn’t take it. He couldnt’ find the time, didn’t want to, etc. I know, I know. If it were me, I’d be taking every single vacation day I was allowed. Him, well, he’s a very hands on manager and many times just doesn’t feel comfortable leaving his store in the sort of capable hands of his team. So when I get the go ahead from him, I jump on it! We were originally only looking at 5 days at the beach, but the owners made me a good offer if we made it 7, so between two extra days of travel, that brought our total to 9. Which in case you didn’t know, is a really long trip!
Do you remember our past vacations? Something happened every time we traveled, either a puking kid or some other disaster. It has scarred me and really made me nervous about traveling. I was bloody freaking thrilled at our trip to Idaho and the absence of problems. Waking up on Friday morning, everything seemed to be ok, until my daughter came down stairs, wearing a long face that did not look good at all. She said she wasn’t feeling well. I told her she was fine, just excited about our trip. I gave her some sprite and crackers. She nibbled at the crackers but wasn’t too into them. I was literally holding my breath, just waiting…. she seemed to be stable, so i told her we needed to go to the library to pick up some movies for our trip. Then I told her my theory on mind over matter-if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. I had her repeat ‘I am fine. I will not be sick on vacation.’ over and over and that perked her up a little. So we hopped in the car for the short 1-1/2 mile to the library. We hadn’t gotten quite a mile down the road when she said the word we all hate to hear, ‘mom!’ with that special tone of kids about to barf. I always keep a trash bag strapped to the passenger headrest in my car. I reached over, ripped the thing off and handed it to her just in time. She let it all out. Blech. But seemed to feel better once it was done. And yet again, my trash bag was sacrificed to a kid puking the day of a big trip (the first time was my son when we were on our way to Hawaii). but better the trash bag than the carpet/seat of my car! She seemed to be alright after that. I think she may have been hungry. My kids are weird taht way. After we’d been on the road for about an hour, she said she was feeling sick again. Earlier she’d been feeling well enough to have some oatmeal, which I thought was a very good sign. I tried to give her some saltines, but she wanted peanut butter crackers instead. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but they seemed to do the trick!
We left home to drive to Little Rock to stay overnight w/brother-in-law and his wife. A double bonus, we get to see them and knock 4 hours off the drive. Up early and on the road on Saturday for a 10 hr drive to the Pensacola area. Thankfully, we didn’t hit any major snags on the way down like zombies, volcanos, or godzilla, which I was very grateful for, as I’m sure you would be too!
My children are weird. They always have been. Put my children in a car for a road trip and they do not sleep! I mean really, isn’t that a rule for young kids? After about an hour in the car, I have to use toothpicks to keep my eyes open. Not my kids. My girly especially. We took a road trip when she was 16 months old. A nine hour drive to my sister-in-law’s house for Christmas. My girly refused to sleep, which on a kid that young can get really ugly. And ugly it got, by about hour 8. And it was dark and she was completely unhinged and inconsolable, which made me somewhat less than happy. But there really wasn’t much I could do. I didn’t have any Benadryl handy, so we just had to deal with it. (just kidding, I have never medicated my kids solely to get them to sleep) I think she may have slept a bit this time, but they seemed to get along well enough. Between dvd players and hand-held video games, as well as travel versions of Sorry and Connect 4, they stayed occupied.
Our destination was a small beach area called Perdido Key. It is between Pensacola and Orange Beach, Alabama. Perdido is the Spanish word for ‘lost”, hence the ‘lost key’. Thank goodness I didn’t really lose a key, that would be disaster! It is a very family friendly place. The condo we stayed in was not huge, but comfortable and in good condition, and literally RIGHT on the beach. The sand is as white as can be and powder fine and super soft. It even makes a funny noise when you scuff your feet.
I sat on the balcony and had my coffee every day watching the waves. Life doesnt’ get much better than that. Our first day, we saw dolphins, which was a great way to start our vacation. We bought flashlights and hunted for sand crabs at night. I had no idea those little suckers are so tiny! smaller than a dime! We hunted seashells, found living sand dollars (but they were small, my husband called them sand ‘quarters’!) watched the sea gulls and pelicans flying overhead, and tracked enough sand in my car to fill a sandbox! We went to a state beach named for a black soldier who’d died in the line of duty saving three other soldiers in Korea, I believe. It was a really incredible beach. The best part is that it was nearly deserted. Gorgeous white sand & dunes, sea oats, stunning emerald green water, and hardly anyone else around. It was like our own personal beach. This beach was so wonderful, we went back a second day. My kids loved it b/c there were little fish in the water that would nibble their ankles. Me, well, yeah, not so crazy about the fishes swimming between my legs and around my ankles. They thought it was hilarious to see mom jumping and screaming about these little creatures! Hey, at least I’m good for a laugh, right?
My husband managed to dig up a crab, and not a tiny one. It was at least as big as his hand. He saw some seagulls sitting right where the sand began to slope toward the water so he walked over and started digging w/his hands, thinking he’d never get to the crab. WRONG! he actually got it out, and it made a beeline straight to the water! it was hilarious. And the next day my daughter found another crab the same size just hanging out on the sand. We think he may have been a little sickly. He fought at first, but he wasnt’ trying to get away, even though he was on the sand and not being held at all. They tried to get him to go in a crab hole, but he was just too tired, so we put him back in the ocean. although I didn’t tell my kids that I thought he was probably already dead.
A couple of times it looked like ugly storms rolling in, so we packed it in. I just don’t have a fondness of being outside in a thunderstorm, near a large body of water, call me crazy, I know. And of course, after packing it in, the storms rolled the other way and didn’t come to where we were at all. which is good and bad, a pain to pack up and leave, but good that we could go back out!
We visited the Naval Aviation Museum and HOLY COW is about all I can say! It was huge and made our dinky little air and space museum look like a carnival side show. We spent at least 4 hours there seeing aircraft from essentially the beginning to current. Including a presidential helicopter, retired fighter jets of nearly every make and model and a blimp! There were motion simulators and trainers the kids could climb in. And the best part was that it was free! The motion simulators weren’t, but admission was. From there we went to Fort Barrancas which was initially built by the Spanish when they controlled Florida to protect Pensacola bay. And then later when we controlled it, it was reinforced. this was all on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.
We did eat seafood while we were there, but I’m sad to say we obviously chose the wrong establishments because I was completely underwhelmed. I was expecting great things from the seafood there, since hello, you can’t get much fresher than caught the same day! Alas, I was let down. Oh well, live and learn right?
I had read stories of jellies being in the water there, but thankfully we didn’t have any of that to worry about, just sunburn. We all wore SPF1000 and rash guards and didn’t really get much sun til the last couple of days when we went w/o the rashguards. One morning, while drinking my coffee on the balcony, I was looking at storm clouds rolling in off the water to the east and saw the beginnings of a water spout. My husband had said he hoped to see one. I was the one who saw it. It looked like a string hanging down from the clouds, and went down and back up, and down, and back up. I got binoculars and could see where the surface of the water was kind of fuzzy, but never saw the connection between the two. It was pretty cool though.
And now we’re back home with enough laundry to keep a dry cleaner in business for a few weeks and enough sand in the back of my car to build our own private beach! If you are considering a vacation to Florida, Perdido Key would be a good option to keep in mind. It’s small and away from a lot of the busyness of the big city, but close enough to be as much a part of it as you want to be. I’d love to go back some day.