Love, peace and family? Is it ever that simple? You would think that it would be, especially when you add in the extra ingredients: beach house, pristine and quiet Gulf beach, Christmas, a birthday celebration, some Apples to Apples, and a goofy, needs-to-be-the-center-of-attention Keegan. Nope. We’ve forgotten something. We’ve forgotten that old stand-by base of long-distance family gatherings. There is that ever-present fatigue from a long travel. Add to that a touch of clashing personalities. Last, but certainly not least, there’s the deep-rooted resentment of something. It’s something that no one can really put their finger on it, but it’s there.
It had a wonderful beginning. Sure, it was a long trip. It was a bit cramped. The “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” movie didn’t completely load onto the iPad, so that brilliant distraction plan was shot to hell. I-95 was full of stupid drivers and when you FINALLY get to Florida, there are still several hours left to go. That was ok, though. We made the best of it. It helped that Lars and Anais slept through a good portion of the trip, leaving Keegan with no one to argue with (big thumbs up there!). We made our regular short stop at South of the Border, where blatantly stereotypical racism is still acceptable. Acceptable, probably because most of the crap that they sell there is so ridiculous that it is flat-out impossible to take anything in that place seriously.
Oh, and while on the road…I knitted. A whole hat. Because I’m freaking crafty like that.
So anyway, we persevered and arrived at Dale’s house in Tallahassee during the early hours of December 24th. After a short greeting with Dale we were in bed for the night. We quickly passed out on our allotted sleeping spots and slept until the sun came up several hours later. Then it was time that we all got ready for the big trip to the beach.
My niece and nephew are living with Dale so it was great to wake up and see them! It’s hard to believe that they are all grown-up now. I remember visiting Dean’s house back when we had just started seeing each other. Ashley had just been born and Dean was scared to death to hold her. I’m not even going to repeat any of the Ryan stories…they are a bit too goofy. We’ll save those for another time…
Anyway, we all went out to Bruegger’s for some bagels and coffee, ran to the store for food and (the all-important staple of a week-long trip) alcohol, did a bit of chatting with Ryan and Ashley…and were on our way. Dale drove Lars and Keegan, Ryan drove Ashley and Anais, and Dean and I had some lovely alone time in our car.
Driving south of Tallahassee, I remember how much I love this part of the country. It’s redneck, but not redneck crazy (have to drive down to Pasco county for that). Actually, it’s beautiful. I love driving through the old towns and looking at the worn little houses. You see an abundance of trailers, but they have a certain earthiness to them. The country is gorgeous! The palmetto bushes and brush. The birds. It’s peaceful out here. As we wound our way down to the Gulf and then traveled west towards the island, I was getting excited. This was going to be fun and I couldn’t wait for it to begin! St. George Island is a bit of paradise…at least it is for me. It’s not as touristy as Panama City. I am not a big touristy person and like the places off of the vacation guides. If I had my druthers, I would even flat-out skip the public beach on St. George due to the obnoxiousness of the normal beach-goers (at least in the summer during prime vacation time), but I absolutely love the state park there. Unfortunately, we didn’t visit this time around. It was alright though since our beach house rental was in the Plantations, a gated-off area with private beach access (and almost as nice beaches). Plus, it was winter…not too many annoying people around.
Speaking of, this was our drive over the bridge to the island:
Notice all of the traffic.
We managed to get behind Dale and the kids at the gate and followed them to the beach house.
Holy cow. This place was huge! Yeah, it slept 14, but still…it was huge! A mini-tour:
The bottom level was home to parking, a swimming pool, showers, fish-cleaning station (ew!), and the entryway. Inside the door was a little room containing several bikes to be used by tenants, a dresser, an elevator shaft (locked an not built, but there in case anyone would like one later on), and the steps leading upstairs.
The middle level consisted of a living area with a sleeper couch, books, and television. It also had a master bedroom with bathroom, a bedroom with two really cool bunkbed/loft areas, and two other bedrooms that shared a bathroom. There was also a large porch accessible through two of the bedrooms and the living area.
The upper level contained the main living area, complete with a fireplace, books, large television and games. There was also a kitchen and dining area, bathroom, and master suite complete with whirlpool bath and large walk-in shower (how did I NOT get a picture of this?). Dean had this room called for us since last summer and I did a little happy dance! There was another porch accessible from our room, the living and dining areas.
It should have been a week in paradise. It started out that way. Not sure what the hell happened, but it will always be a week to remember…