Monday, October 14, 2013

Another Florida birthday


When we came down here with Opal for Nic's job interview in July, I rode around the area with the baby and a realtor while Nic was getting interviewed. One of the things I was sad about losing by leaving the Philly area was the proximity to the Jersey shore and Ocean City, MD. I asked the realtor where people here went when they wanted to go to the beach, thinking the answer would be either Galveston or Mississippi. I'd been to the beach in Mississippi, though, and it was gross, brownish cloudy water like at one of the worst Jersey beaches but with no waves and without a boardwalk. But she told me those beaches were too silty and most people who wanted a beach getaway went to the Florida panhandle beaches, most of which were three to five hours away. So not quite as easy as the ninety minutes to two hours proximity of the Jersey shore, but more like the four hour drive to OCMD. Would it be worth it, though, I wondered? I'm happy to report that yes, it is!

I told Nic I wanted to go away for my birthday, either to Texas for SeaWorld in San Antonio or to Florida for the beaches. He wisely decided on Florida, as he can't take any time off until the new year and San Antonio is like eight or nine hours away. So we left Friday evening, listening to satellite radio on the way there. I'd been hinting to Nic that I wanted satellite radio for years in Philly, but my main reason was I wanted to hear oldies from the 1950s and oldies and discordant minor-key folk music from the 1960s that they no longer played on Oldies 98 or any other station in Philly. But the oldies station in New Orleans is actually really good, playing all those kinds of songs plus skeezy, sexually disturbing flash in the pan hits from the 1970s, so I kind of forgot about satellite radio. But it's pretty cool. Once I get the hang of it I'm looking forward to listening to the various talk shows, which I miss because I no longer am in the car at the right time of the day. This will be even better though because now there won't be commercials, which is huge because in the morning somehow all the stations always collated their commercials so that for the majority of my ride all the shows I liked to listen to would be all playing commercials at the same time.

Anyway, we got in super late to the condo in Fort Walton Beach, which is just outside of Destin. It was your standard beach condo right on the beach, could have been in OCMD or anywhere family beachtastic. But that view we got Saturday morning was definitely Floridian - crystal clear turquoise water, clean white sugary sand (apparently some of the best in the country - it squeaked when we walked) and gently swaying palm trees. The condo buildings themselves were very Florida Spanishy, white stucco walls and terra cotta roof tiles (real or fake I don't know). Here's the view from the parking lot (a sentence that always entices, I know):


The boys were very jazzed about the circularity of the walkthrough bathrooms and Wolfie in particular loved this wallpaper:


Saturday morning we woke up really early despite having gone to bed so late the night before. This was good because we ate up the morning with a lot of errands. First Nic went out with Opal to get breakfast, which ended up being from our old Florida favorite, Publix. It was a good thing we brought some pumpkin biscotti, because somehow the only thing he could find was decidedly non-dairy-free apple fritters, one of which we had to tell the fruit-phobic Wolfie was a "cinnamon fritter." "Thank you so much, Daddy, this cinnamon fritter is the best donut I've had in my whole life!" Ah, the many benefits of lying to your children. After that I had to go myself and Opal bathing suits. I left my one fitting non-maternity swimsuit in the hotel shower in Mobile, Alabama on the way down on our big move by accident. Opal needed a suit because I didn't have one for her because she hadn't been swimming yet. Her first beach trip! Anyway, I took Wolfie with me because when I asked if he'd go with he said "Sure Mom, it's your birthday so I'll do whatever you want." Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, so precious I almost forget that he picks his nose and smashes things for no reason when bored.

After an odyssey to several beach stores (none of which carried baby suits) and then Old Reliable (aka Target), we finally suited up and headed out:


The water was great, nice and warm and calm, the depth shallow and gently sloping down. The big boys of course were extremely excited to get into the water, especially expert swimmer Eli. Opal saw Wolfie walk into the water and immediately started hysterically laughing, which she doesn't do very often. She LOVED the water, slapping it and kicking around. It made me so nostalgic for the early days back in Florida with Eli laughing and smiling and happy in his little yellow baby floaty ring, slowly spinning and floating until he'd get all cutely tired and zonked out. I can't wait to get a floaty ring for Opal, I just hope we go back before she's too big or squirmy to use it! We didn't bring our camera out at first, then when Nic went back inside to get it, someone spotted a pod of dolphins not too far offshore. The whole almost three years we lived in Florida we didn't once see dolphins at the beach, but there they were, coming up for air every few seconds and even once doing a small leap out of the water! I was worried they'd be gone by the time Nic got back with the camera, but they stuck around for a long time!


We even saw them again from the balcony the next morning. So cool! So Florida fantasy! Zeb was oddly afraid of ocean, and didn't even want to be carried in, so he just played in the sand.




Opal fell asleep at the beach, so I laid down with her on a chair, covering her up with a towel so she didn't get too much sun, while Nic and the boys played at the pool. After we all got cleaned up, had some lunch, and relaxed some at the room, we headed out to Destin for some mini golf and dinner, and Hawaiian shirt modeling for the dudes:




Those koi were ravenous. Anyway, it was an extremely lax game, what with me being weighed down with the Ergo baby and then Toddler Jefferson going buckwild, putting his ball Aunt Sally-style one centimeter from the hole then putting it in, then running crazy go nuts to the next hole. Scores were not kept. We had dinner at this little fake boardwalk shopping center Mexican restaurant,


where of course Zeb fell asleep at the table, then we headed back for non-dairy chocolate cake.

Sunday we had to check out too early to actually be able to go in the water, though I did stick my foot in the ocean for a second. Instead we stopped for lunch in Pensacola Beach on the way back.




We had lunch at the Hemingway Grill, which was on the water and exactly the kind of place I'd hoped to eat at the night before, but it was even better during the day because of the view.


Nic and the boys had breakfast food but I had a nice blackened fish sandwich with beans and rice with a bottomless champagne glass. Opal had the table:


Then we headed back to New Orleans, stopping in Biloxi on the way to feed the baby/pee at a beach store/confirm that the water is gross and brown in Mississippi (indeed it was). All in all, it was the perfect little birthday getaway, and it actually made me fall in love with Florida again!

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