The end of March was Spring Break for our kids. It also was time for a family vacation. This marked our tenth year to travel to Florida for Spring Break.
I suppose when we travel to Florida we do things a little differently than the average family. We camp, and we also take along two kayaks. In addition to our family we were joined by my parents, my brothers and their families. And for the second time, a friend and her family has joined us as well. This is certainly a formula for a good time.
So, on a Thursday evening we departed with our camper in tow and our kayaks on board. We made it a whopping 20 miles before we had to stop and readjust the kayak straps. And we made it into the next state before we got the inevitable question, “How much longer is it going to be?”. Unfortunately, for us the next state is only 45 minutes away from home. At this rate, it was going to be a long trip.
Although, I personally believe whoever invented the portable DVD player should be inducted into sainthood. It is a lifesaver. It makes the time pass more quickly or at least the ride a little more quiet.
However, as we passed through Nashville, I felt the need to get my kids attention.
“Hey guys! Look at those big buildings.”
I think the city lights are impressive at night. Although, Dan, informed me that I say the same thing every year.
“You tell the kids to look at the same thing year after year.”
“I know. I don’t want their entire road trip to be a video. I want them to actually see something.”
As I drove past a sign that looked like a virtual fireworks display I said, “Oh! Look!”.
“Don’t look at that!”
I was beginning to think, Dan, was just being difficult. Yes, I realize I ask the kids to look at the same roadside attractions year after year. But really, is there any harm in it?
It was then that he explained to me that the sign was actually for an adult bookstore. Whoops!
Our plan was to stop a little south of Birmingham. There is a camping store that allows campers to spend the night for free. They even have electric hook-up. This is a wonderful option especially since the outside temperature was 42°. However, when we arrived after 11:00, we realized all of the electric places were taken. No problem we can just use our propane heater…Or so we thought.
After just five minutes of running the heater, the battery died. We had plenty of propane, but no way to run the fan to blow the heat. So with that, we tried to go to sleep. In the cold. It was lovely. Really.
Needless to say we took off early the next morning. Before I knew it, we crossed the Florida state line, and I was beginning to get the feeling back in my toes.
We arrived to our destination, Saint Joseph Peninsula State Park, Friday afternoon. We were able to enjoy the next couple of days at the beach.
However, that was short-lived. It stormed Sunday evening, the wind blew, and the temperature dropped. Anyone who was there can tell you I spent the next three or four days in virtual hibernation. I had a space heater and several good books to read. I was one happy girl.
Now, somewhere in there my daughter complained of a belly ache. Oh jolly. I decided to stay up late in case she needed a hand. After going to bed after midnight I was awoken by the sound that only a mother could appreciate. She was getting sick, and she wasn’t in the bathroom. Wonderful. I found her sitting on the couch. Let the cleaning begin. Thankfully, a short while later we all went back to sleep.
The next day, the cold weather persisted, and I proceeded with my hibernation. At some point, Dan, decided to come in the camper and get a beverage. Moments after opening the can, he dropped it. The can proceeded to explode all over the interior of my camper. Hey! What is with these people!? Didn’t they realize I was vacation?
Now, if you remember correctly we towed two kayaks down to Florida. One kayak is primarily used to assist with catching sharks. It is used to take the shark bait out into deeper waters.
I may have been hibernating, but the cold weather didn’t stop the guys from fishing. They have caught several sharks in the past, but this year proved to be the granddaddy of them all. I believe they managed to catch five or six sharks, measuring up to 7 feet long. Although, by now they could have grown a foot or two.
On one of the cooler days, we decided to travel into town. It is about a 45 minute drive. We went out to eat, and visited a local aquarium (which if you ask, Griffin, is a must every year).
And if you ask me,
getting a picture with this turtle is a must each year!
Once we returned to the campground, Griffin, Owen, and I decided to explore the bay area. We were joined by a few of our friends. In the nine years we have been coming here, I have never seen the tide in the bay area so low. We were able to find things that we normally don’t find an abundance of. We found lots of sea urchins and other creepy crawly things. A boy’s paradise.
With only two days remaining in our vacation, the wind died down, and the temperature rose. Perfect for going to the beach. Even for me!
So, while some people where stuck in Indiana making snow angels, others made sand angels.
With the improved weather conditions, we took the other kayak to the beach. It is a tandem kayak. We purchased it prior to last year’s trip. I had wanted to be able to kayak with the dolphins. And I did. Last year. As our time on the beach began to dwindle, I was losing hope for another opportunity. We hauled the kayak all the way from Indiana, and I didn’t see a thing. There was not a dolphin insight.
Dan strapped the kayaks down to a make-shift cart, and was getting ready to haul them back to the truck. He needed to get them for our departure the next day.
It was then that I saw a school of dolphins making their way down the coast. Being a good sport, Dan, unhooked the kayaks he had just loaded up. Moments later, he pushed me off to make my voyage to see the dolphins. I paddled hard to catch up with them. Once I did, the dolphins swam directly under my kayak several times, and jumped right in front of me! It was wonderful! They truly are a creature to admire.
The last two days at the beach were wonderful.
And with that our vacation came to a close.
We departed very early on Saturday, and we were making good time. That is until we reached Birmingham, where we sat in standstill traffic for almost 45 minutes. I was “driving”, and I had perfectly timed drinking a Mountain Dew in preparation of a rest stop. However, this delay was not in my calculations. By the time we made it to the gas station, I thought I was going to burst. I gave my entire family instructions.
“When I stop the truck, I am getting out. Nobody is coming with me. I am going to hurry inside. The three of you (kids) can walk in together.”
When I entered the gas station, I saw a line of a dozen other people (one of which was a little boy that was jumping up and down with his legs crossed). I spun around to leave, and almost ran smack dab into my children. The look of confusion was on their face.
“Come on let’s go.”
Now this confused them even more, but thankfully they all followed me.
“Dan, throw me the keys to the camper!”
I was very, very thankful for the bathroom in our camper!
Now the rest of the trip went amazingly well. That is if you factor in the constant humming noise from our wonderful kayaks, the ENTIRE way home. Hmmmm… for 13 hours! I don’t know if we loaded them differently, or the straps weren’t adjusted properly, but I do know it was constant and LOUD! Hmmmm…
I guess my voyage with the dolphins made it worth it. Plus, I’ve had a week or two to forget just how loud it was!
We arrived home from our trip a little tired, but all in all it was wonderful.
It was Holy Saturday, and, Ruthie, had hoped that this year the Easter Bunny would unpack us for our Easter gift. She even said the Easter bunny could skip any gifts, treats, or candy, if he would simply unpack us and clean everything up.
Since I did not see that happening, we spent the remainder of the evening doing just that.
And as I looked at the mountain of laundry that appeared, it became apparent
It is, however, a wonderful memory, and we are already looking forward to next year.
Only At My House,