Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Missing Summer?

How can you miss summer when it isn't over yet? 

With the cooler days and nights, I have visions of cloudier days and staying inside more than out.  Yes, the flowers are in full bloom inspite of the drought we had here in Indiana, and the days are warm and beautiful--oh, I yearn for this all year.  I understand more than ever why people move to warmer climates.  I'm just one of those people who like the warm nights that require just tank tops on that evening boat ride and warm days that make you relish the slower pace with ice in your glass instead of outside on your car or on the road. 

The mornings start later, and the nights are earlier now.  I am already missing the longer days.

Appreciate what remains every day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Soooo Glad

Time and Place of Departure: a Mickey D's in Indianapolis on Friday, July 13, 2012, 9:30 a.m.

Destination:  St. Augustine, La Florida--a 3 bedroom ranch with pool; 10 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean; over 1800 miles round trip

Who:  6 adults with 2 vans; 4 children, ages 3-7; and 2 adult labs

What:  A first time Family Vacation

Why:  To bond?  To get away?  To challenge?  To face the Unknown?  To talk about something this winter?  To just see if we could do it?!  To dream?

Reflections on our first family trip 

It took communication to get this trip together--a good exercise for any family.  Minds and ideas changed back and forth.  Would someone drop out?  Would the dogs go or not?  Could we really make it all work for the good? 

When we met at Mickey D's in Indy, we knew we were on our way one way or another.  We finally arrived when we faced the house we rented.  What lies behind that front door with a palm tree?  We were all smiles as we entered with relief--the house was fabulous as we walked into the kitchen!   We were flooded with relief and feelings of "Let this family vacation begin!"

First on my list of reflections was the Best Food Eaten.  It may surprise you that the best food for me was not in La Florida but in Atlanta, GA on the way down at Mason's Bar & Grille--chicken quesidilla with mushrooms and 3 sauces and then Tennessee on the way back at a Waffle House in Chattanooga with a terrific vegetable egg omelet and grits--wonderful grits!!!  The best drink though was in St. Augustine--a mojito at the Santa Maria Restaurant on the wharf after our pirate ship adventure--cold with limey mint.  The shrimp wasn't bad either.  The White Lion Restaurant near the Bridge of Lions was very good in Old Towne in St. Augustine, too.  Maybe we needed to talk more with the natives to find the finest seafood. 

Best Activities was my next thought.  Of course, nothing could top the Atlantic Ocean's sound, sight, smell, feel, and taste.  I could sit on the sand for hours with an umbrella, chair, and cold beverage to experience this natural wonder along with my family and others dancing with the waves and sand.  Not enough time to slow it all down, linger, and absorb this new landscape.  I am not a water lover, but I was mesmerized by the monstrosity of it all.  We also saw real parrots and lizards just hanging around the house we rented.  I learned about coquina which is a shell laden composite to build forts and homes.

You can't beat the St. Augustine Red Train Tours--sights at your fingertips and feet.  Jump on and off at any of the 8 miles and 21 stops to enjoy attractions, shopping, recreation, and dining.  Sure beats walking or driving.  The best attractions were the Pirate and Treasure Museum and the Pirate Ship Black Raven.  Sailing on the Black Raven, the grandkids heard pirate stories and songs, dueled a pirate with soft swords, overtook Captain Hook's and Blackbeard's ship, and ended up with treasure boxes filled with jewels and doubloons.  Aarghhhhh!  It was a mighty good time for all! We had to sign a paper saying we didn't mind being videoed for a video ad on Facebook.  We'll have to check:  www.FaceBook.com/BlackRavenPirates

If you love forts, St. Augustine has them.  We went to Fort Matanzas and the Castillo de San Marcos.  Both are engulfed in history of St. Augustine, our nation's first city.   Some of our group went on a Kayak Tour, others to the Wax Museum, and some just wandering around trying to find Crucial's Coffee Cafe

If you've ever wanted to see all the alligators you wanted to see, then The Alligator Farm was for you!  They had 23 species of crocodilians with rare and exotic birds, mammals, and reptiles.  Talk about heat and humidity. 

My son, Eric, was the only one to make sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, July 19 with Sienna and Shadow, the greatest lab travelers of all Indiana.  They knew they had gone where no Indiana labs had gone before.  They were the best dogs ever!!  Kudos to labs everywhere!  Sunsets had to be found--maybe another few days, and we would have figured that out!!!

Eric and Steve were signed up for a biplane flight over St. Augustine, but the flight was canceled twice due to weather, and then the plane wouldn't start.  Sounded like a voice from above to me.
Some of us took individual trips to be with our own families.  It might be a trip to the ocean, a walk, or visit to an attraction or shopping.  We also celebrated Amanda's birthday with cupcakes at The Conch Restaurant.

Lucas, Lilly, Noah, and James got to play not only every day at the ocean but in a pool together, too.  Lilly liked the pool best, and the boys were mesmerized by the pirates and forts.  A pillow fight now and then didn't hurt either.  How much and what will they remember?

We all shared in the responsibilities of our new home in St. Augustine.  From the start, each family signed up to make a meal, and that made 4 dinners for the 7 days we were there.  Breakfast and lunch were up to each family.  Some shared their breakfasts and lunches. Amanda's Ginger Chicken/ Broccoli and Pasta with brownies led the feasts on Sunday night.  Monday was Eric's Jambalaya with Rice and chocolate chip cookies for dessert on Monday.  Then there was Tam's Taco Tuesday with ice cream.  Thursday was Tim's Grill Night--from chicken, brats, hamburgers to grilled veggies.  Steve and Ben helped with breakfasts.  The pool was always waiting for us when we needed that extra cool down, and wee all tidied up and did laundry throughout the week.  We got our complete deposit back in the end!!  Was it our cleaning or the leftover sausage, hot dogs, water, and beer that did it????

We were sooooo glad we attempted this family vacation and successfully did it.  What were we waiting for?  Eric had the best thoughts:  Take that vacation, and don't sweat the small stuff.  Relax and be with the people you care most about.  I can see why families try to vacation together every year.  

La Familia in La Florida.  Bueno!!

Lessons and memories to last a life time