We flew back to the USA for the first time in over a year and a half to spend the holidays with family. We divided up our time by spending one week in Atlanta to take care of business (and by “business” I mostly mean going through the many boxes of stuff we thought was important enough to store a year and a half ago. After living without it for a year and a half we realized hardly any of it was ‘important’. “Business” also refers to eating at all the restaurants we missed. And by “all the restaurants” I mostly mean Mexican restaurants. We really miss them!), and two weeks on the beach in Florida.
I won’t go into our boring storage unit time in this blog, instead, will focus on the fun part – two weeks on the beach in Florida!
Back when we lived in Atlanta, we made several trips down to Florida’s panhandle, just over a 5-hour drive from Atlanta. Specifically, we liked to spend our time on this magical part of the panhandle known as 30A. It is a popular place to go for Atlantans, and you see lots of somewhat-cryptic bumper stickers wen you are cruising around metro Atlanta with only a simple “30A”. The initiated know exactly to what paradise that refers. 30A is a two-lane road that runs west of Panama City, along the coast and eventually reaches almost to Destin, merging back into a bigger thoroughfare. Now, along this magical 30A lies the most gorgeous white sand beaches I have ever seen. Cute little towns have been built up, including Rosemary Beach on the East side of 30A, and the most popular, Seaside, towards the West. Seaside’s claim to fame is that it was the setting for the movie The Truman Show, the movie with Jim Carrey living in an idyllic (though *spoiler* ultimately fake) community. Seaside is just as charming as the movie makes it out to be.
The big house where we stay near Rosemary Beach allows us to have lots of family join us, and this year that included (for at least part of the time) the five of us, my parents, my brother, C’s parents, C’s sister, C’s uncle and C’s cousin. So, needless to say, it was a chaotic full house.We definitely have some favorite things to do when are are down on 30A, and we got them all in on this trip, plus a few extras!
Playing at the Beach
We tend to come down here in the off season, when it is less crowded, but that also means that the weather isn’t usually very warm (but it is all relative, isn’t it?). In other years, some of the more brave among us have taken a dip in the Gulf on Christmas day, but this year it was just too cold! We were still able to enjoy walking along the beach, digging holes, making sandcastles and playing various beach games.
Swimming in the (heated) pool
It may have been too cold for the ocean, but it was plenty warm to swim in a heated pool! The house has its own pool and the boys were in there for a few hours nearly every day. They had fun, and it was plenty warm in the pool. The only problem was when you wanted to get out. That cold wet walk back inside was the worst!
Walking to Rosemary Beach
The house is about a half-mile from the quaint little town of Rosemary Beach, with its restaurants and a few stores (including the requisite sweet shop every vacation town must have!), so weather-permitting, we would walk into the town for dinner, to look at the Christmas lights, stop at the candy store, browse in the bookstore or just people watch.
Biking to Seaside
The flat and mostly straight 30A is ideal for bikes, and the walking/cycling path running the entire length of it invites people to take advantage of it. We love to do just that, and always rent bikes from one of the many bicycle rental companies in the area. This time, we rented the bikes for just over a week of our two week stay, and took many trips to Seaside, about 7km from our house near the Rosemary Beach end. Over the years, we have had various iterations of adult bikes, trailers, attachments and kids bikes. This was the first time that C was able to ride a bike without a kid somehow connected to his bike, and little N even made the entire bike trip to Seaside under his own steam!
With our big gang in the house, we spent lots of time playing games, and eating meals, chatting and even watching college (American) football games together. As busy as we may have all been with various activities during the day, it was fun to be all together most evenings.
We are lucky to have friends from Atlanta who were staying just across the street from us, so we even got some friend time. We spent New Year’s Eve at their house for dinner and sparklers at the beach at midnight* (*can we just say we made it to midnight if it was technically only 11pm, but we were JUST across the border in Central time, so we literally could have driven to where it was midnight in Eastern time. Isn’t that close enough to count?)
This was our first time doing this, but my brother encouraged us to go, so one afternoon, me, C, A, my brother and my dad all willingly locked ourselves in a room with just a few random clues to try to figure our way back out. According to the employee at the escape room, only about 10% of groups are successful. I will let the picture tell you how we did…
We were really happy to be able to spend two weeks in this fun place and the boys were SO excited to be there. It was a great way to end our year!