Sunday, July 26, 2015

Last Minute is the Best (Always Watch Jaws After Going to the Ocean)

We always take our family vacation in the summer.  As a teacher, it just makes sense.  We were also excited because this year my husband started getting four weeks of vacation a year.  Even so, we couldn't settle on where we were going or what we wanted to do.  We had kicked around lots of ideas, but nothing seemed right.

The thing about always taking your vacation in the summer is, it's super hot if you travel south. When my kids were seven and five we took them to Disney World in Orlando.  I'm glad we did it.  They were both very into Disney at the time, but what is most memorable to me is how HOT it was at that park!  We did drive to Pismo Beach one day while we were there, but I'm not sure my son even remembers that.  For the past two years, we've gone north to Michigan for this reason.  I wrote a post about this HERE if you're interested. 

This was one of the first moments after we walked into the Magic Kingdom.  They were both huge Winnie the Pooh fans for years.  See how red their faces are from the heat already?

This was towards the end of the day.  Sweaty hair and the look on the boy's face.  The heat was brutal!

    Two years later arriving on the shores of Lake Michigan.  They look so much more comfortable!

At the beginning of June, I kept hounding asking my husband about when he was going to take his vacation.  He gets his vacation time on July 1st each year.  I suggested he take the week of the Fourth of July because he wouldn't have to use very much of his new time that way. He had a little time left over from last year, and he always has the holiday off, so he wouldn't even use 3 whole days of his new time.  He responded that he might do that.  In the meantime, I made no plans for two reasons:
      A)He never confirmed he was going to take that week and
      2) I couldn't decide where we should go.

On the last Friday of June, he came home and told me he was taking vacation next week.  Next week?  He acted like this had been all MY idea.  Which it kind of was. 

But here's something about me: I actually operate better under a deadline in this kind of situation.  I got online and found us a great deal at a condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama for the same week we needed.  There had been a cancellation, so they were offering a reduced rate.  The owner called me Saturday morning and said we could come the next day.  Here's one of the many things I love about Dan - This kind of last minute decision freaks him out for about 10 minutes.  Then he's right on board.  Our conversation went something like this:
Me: "We have a chance to rent a condo on the beach tomorrow."
Him: "Tomorrow???  I can't get everything ready by tomorrow!"
Me: "I'll pack the bags, get a house/pet sitter, and get the oil changed.  What do you need to do?"
Him: "Mow the yard and get the pool ready."
Me: "It's 9:00 in the morning.  So mow now.  What do you have to do to the pool?"
Him: "Well...nothing really."
Me: "Okay, then."

And just like that, we were both in the same mindset.

Now, I don't know if you're aware of this, but Alabama IS south of Illinois.  But this time we weren't going to be at a theme park in Hades.  We were going to be on the beach.  I was hoping that might change how I feel about the south in the summer.

The next morning we set out at 6:00 A.M.-ish.  This was going to be the longest car ride my kids had been on.  When we went to Florida, we broke it up into three days, stopping overnight to see family in Southern Illinois the first night and Georgia the second night.  This time it was 12 hours - in one day.

Don't you wish you could bottle that enthusiasm you feel when you set out on vacation?  Sure you do!  Because then you could open up a can of it and shotgun it on the way back, when that feeling isn't as strong. 

We made it there a little before 9:00 at night.  I have to hand it to Dan, who drove the whole way.  Kudos to a man who can be all in for a plan after 10 minutes of freaking out.  We could hear the ocean calling us.  We had to go out and take a walk.

The next day the kids and I headed down to the beach.  Dan wasn't ready yet but was going to join us shortly.  He didn't get a chance because after 10 minutes in the ocean, my son got stung by a jellyfish on his arms.  I quickly Googled "jellyfish stings" and was treated to some awful pictures.  Apparently, kids can also have severe allergic reactions to stings, just like they do with bee stings.  It also mentioned that at times, the barbs from the stingers could become lodged in the skin.  I couldn't see anything in his skin and he's not allergic to bee stings, but what do I know about jellyfish?  I'm from Illinois for crying out loud!

After a quick trip to an urgent care located conveniently around the corner, we were told to spray it with a solution of vinegar and water.  After some lunch and ibuprofen, we hit the beach again.  I told the boy he didn't have to get back in the ocean. (He had been quite vocal about the fact that he was NEVER  going back into the ocean while we were driving to urgent care.)  Five minutes of watching his dad and sister frolic in the ocean, and he could no longer resist.  He was right back to it.  And thank goodness because the beach was pretty much the majority of our agenda for the week.

Very proud of his bravery to return into the abyss!

We also went on a dolphin cruise and visited the zoo there.  But mostly it was the beach.

   Cruisin' for dolphins - We saw lots!

  Their grandparents always give them money to spend on vacation.  How did they spend it?  On a personal lemur encounter, of course.

   Kangaroos could be house pets, I think.  As long as they don't get any bigger than this.

After 5 nights, we headed back.  My feelings about going south in the summer have improved.  It's all about the venue you choose, I guess.

       Swimming in the evening means no messing with sunscreen.

   Swimming in the pool at our condo

   When faced with humidity like this, I surrender and let my hair return to its 1988 state.

Just a footnote to this whole story:
We woke up at home the morning of the Fourth of July.  AMC, because it loves me, was running a Jaws marathon that day.  I let my son watch the first 20 minutes of it.  He looked at me incredulously and said, "You let us go in the ocean???"  So maybe we WILL be going back to Lake Michigan next year after all. 


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