So every year for vacation we go to an Amusement Park, usually Holiday World. We LOVE it there. This year, Sam said he wanted to do something different. Really he wanted to go see the Rockies, but $ and time don't let that happen. :( So I did a little searching, but decided we would just do Holiday World. We all like that, it is cheap and close, and the kids would be fine with that.
Then one day, Avery mentioned the beach. I hate the beach. LOL. I hate all the sand, I hate the salt water, I hate sharks, jellyfish, and things I can't see in the water. Yeah, I really don't like it. In fact after we got married, we went to the Bahamas with crystal clear, beautiful water. I didn't like it. We went to Florida next to Destin, a vacation hot spot. I didn't like it. In fact, I spent all of my time in the pool, looking at the ocean, rather than IN the ocean. I don't like it. Oddly enough, I looked into it anyway. Turns out we actually have a beach less than 10 hours away, 7 hours in fact! Then I started looking at hotels. Then I realized we have dogs now, and what in the world would I do with them for several days??!! Zia would die if I left her, I'm positive. :) So then I started looking at houses. Houses on the beach. Houses on the beach that were pet-friendly. Then I looked at prices, and really it wasn't that much more than a normal hotel at Holiday World, we could bring the dogs, the beach is free, etc. So I found the perfect house. It was right on the bay, it had a screened in porch for the dogs for when we had to go somewhere, it was so pretty, and the price wasn't bad. Then I looked at the availability. No go. So I looked at several more houses. Then more. Then more. I probably looked at over 100 houses. Very few had available dates. AJ had only told me 3 weeks before that he could take off a certain week. So then I went ahead and I emailed all of those houses, even though they all said booked. What do ya know?! The house I really wanted emailed me back and said it was available, but that she usually only rents by the week, and we only wanted 4 days. :( She said if she hadn't rented it out by the next week, then we could have it. Well, you know me, I am a planner, and that didn't work for me. So I kindly asked her if she would please reconsider. She called me and said we sound like her kind of people, and rented it to us anyway. WOOHOO! So then I got excited, even though it was a vacation to the dreaded beach. Maybe my tastes had changed since the last time I was at the beach. Ha! Yeah, right! My tastes NEVER change, as known by my pickiness about food. :)
Anyway, the kids COULD NOT WAIT. They talked about it every single day. I was worried about it. Remember, I hate all things beach related. Then I accidentally read about Rip Tides, then I hated it even more. Then I worried about some tropical storm coming while we were there. Then I worried more about sharks. Then I worried about Avery. He can swim, but good enough for the ocean? Ugh, I don't like oceans. Then I worried about the dogs. What if they threw up on the long car ride, or pooped in the car, or peed in the house, or chewed up something while we were gone? Ugh. I wanted to change my mind. Thankfully, I couldn't. The kids would have killed me!
Finally, it was time to go. We piled in the car and took our first long trip. The most we've ever traveled was 4 hours with kids. This would be double that with kids and dogs. I had plenty of things to do for them. They didn't use any of it. The dogs stayed on my lap the ENTIRE ride. Getting off for maybe 2 minutes every once in a while. Awww, my doggies love me. They did excellent. They went to the bathroom when we stopped. They didn't get sick. They just slept on me. The kids did well too. :)
We finally got to Gulf Shores. We kept expecting to see the ocean, but nope, just lots of businesses. Then we started seeing palm trees, still no ocean. Where was the darn ocean? We finally got to the road our house was on. We were driving out onto a peninsula called Fort Morgan. Finally, to the left, the GPS told us there was ocean. We still couldn't see. There were soooo many trees! Alabama is so green! Then suddenly, the GPS said there was ocean to the left too. Still too many trees. Finally Sam saw a flash of blue. Then Avery. Then finally, we could see it. We were surrounded on both sides. Yea! We found the drive to our house. It was like driving down a long, winding, tree-lined driveway to an old southern mansion.
We loved the house. It was just like described. It was perfect for us. Yippee! We brought everything in and then went exploring. By this time it was almost dark. We drove a little down the road and then found public beach access. We parked and got everyone out. Some people were walking towards us and said to watch out for alligators. I thought they were kidding. They weren't! There was a marshy area before you got to the actual beach. The walk-way was actually through the marsh. We could see a couple alligator heads sticking up out of the water! Ahhhh! We kept the dogs far away from those tall grasses. Although we did watch a dumb family give their kid a flashlight and let him run ahead, THROUGH the tall grass, all the way to the water where the alligators were. Are you kidding me?! We went on by that really quickly and got to the water. Zia LOVED it. She was running and exploring. It was cute. Apollo was ok, but more subdued. The kids loved it as well. Finally, it got just about all the way dark, and I wanted to hurry back through that marsh before we couldn't see a thing. We left there and found another beach on the other side. No swampy marsh here. AJ pulled into a little turn off so we could watch the waves in teh dark. As he was pulling in, I thought about saying that driving into the sand was a bad idea, but I didn't. He knew what he was doing, right? Then he started to turn to go back out. Again, I thought about saying to be careful so we don't get stuck. I didn't. We got stuck. He tried to get us out, only making it worse! We were REALLY stuck! The front wheels were completely buried! Grreeeaaattt. He had no idea you couldn't drive in sand! What! I knew something he didn't and it was actually common sense to me?! I never have common sense like that! LOL. Thankfully, several people came over to help. They got us out with the help of a tow cable and a big truck. LOL. AJ makes fun of me for A LOT of things, but it's finally MY turn! Hehehe!
We went back to the house, relaxed and were ready for the next day. I expected the kids to get up really early. They didn't! I was the first one up! That also never happens! LOL. They didn't get up until after 10:00! We finally got to the beach. It takes a super long time to get all set up! We had a little "kiddie" ocean right next to our set up, so the dogs could run, play, and cool off when they needed to. Zia loved it. Apollo, not so much. He mostly laid on the blanket watching everything. Zia was up, running, jumping, and playing. She was soooo dirty and gross! :) I went in the water for a minute. Nope, still don't like the ocean. Thankfully, I do like the sun and I do like to read. I NEVER get to read any more, so that was a nice treat. I just chose not to really watch the kids because it freaked me out. I prefer to be oblivious to them being eaten by sharks or pulled out into a rip tide. :) The beach was perfect though. There was hardly anyone there, it was really quiet, and pretty of course. We stayed most of the day. We also used 3 cans of sunscreen!
The next 2 days were more of the same. We got up, went to the beach, stayed until dinner time, then went home. We didn't do anything else! It was nice though. relaxing. The kids had fun. Apollo hated it. Every day, when we were getting ready to go, he looked so sad. He wouldn't come. We had to pick him up and carry him to the car. LOL. Poor, traumatized doggy.
Let's talk about a traumatized doggy! AS I said, our house was right on the bay. There was a dock. Avery was DYING to go fishing. He had caught his first fish the week before at Cub Scout Camp. So AJ finally took them out there on our 2nd night. I stayed on the porch taking beautiful pictures of the sunset. I don't want to hurt poor defenseless animals, even fish. Again, I wanted to be oblivious. :) Sam came back to the house to get his glasses. He found them and went running back to the dock because Avery had just caught a fish. Well, Zia got excited with all the yelling and Sam running. So she went chasing him. Then decided to take a short cut. The short cut, just happened to be THROUGH the ocean!!!! She jumped right off into the big, deep, scary ocean! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I was yelling because I didn't know if AJ saw her and I was far away. I couldn't see what was happening with her. I was running, Sam turned around and was running, then Avery and AJ were running. I was freaking out. She's my baby and I couldn't see her! Sam got to the edge of the dock and jumped right in after her!!! Then I was scared for Sam too! Well, he didn't go under! I finally got to the edge, and there was Zia swimming like a champ. Soaking wet and looking scared to death. Sam said, I think I just hurt my legs. I then realized that it wasn't deep at all. AJ was yelling because Sam had just jumped into water where he couldn't see the bottom. I was trying to figure out what in the world was going on. Apparently, the neighbor had a sectioned off piece of ocean that had crabs and lobsters in it, and that just happened to be what Zia had jumped into. It was only like 2 feet deep. So Sam had just jumped off a really tall dock into 2 feet of crab infested water! He was hurt, but he managed to get Zia. She climber right up his back and sat on his shoulder. Poor doggy. He managed to get over to a little ladder and got out. We all know Sam's propensity for breaking bones, so I was sure he had probably just broken at least one bone, BUT he had just SAVED our poor, little doggy! Without even thinking about it! He just jumped right in to the unknown to rescue his dog. I was so proud of him, even though it wasn't the smartest thing he could have done. He really is my hero. He managed to walk with me back to the house. He ALWAYS can walk on his broken bones though and adrenaline was definitely coursing through his body, so I was still worried. We got back and he sat on the couch and started crying! He thought he was so dumb for doing that, plus AJ was yelling at him for doing that because he was scared, etc. I told him he was not dumb. He saved his dog and most people wouldn't have even considered jumping in to save a dog. I asked if he would do it again, and he said yes. Definitely a hero. He's 11 and did something so scary to help someone he loved. I am still so proud of him. Thankfully, a lot of things went right. The water was super calm (which is why Zia jumped in, you could barely see a ripple, she just thought it was land)not crashing into the rocks, he jumped into shallow water so at least he could get out, the crabs and lobsters didn't pinch either of them, Zia was ok, and so was Sam. It was definitely a scary thing though. So many things could have gone wrong, but he did the right thing, and everyone was protected. Craziness!
Whew! That was traumatic for all of us. We still can't believe it happened.
We left just in time. Tropical Storm Debby was moving in on our last night. When I got up to take the dogs out the next morning, I couldn't believe the change. The wind was insane. The water was SOOO choppy and was so high. I checked the beach weather and they advised staying off the beaches. The waves were 7 feet high and their was a high probability for life-threatening rip tides, etc. We packed up the car and left for our long drive back home. The dogs sat on me the whole way back as well. The kids still did good, and we all made it back in one piece without any broken bones. Now THAT is a miracle! LOL.
Wow, what a long blog. I am sure I forgot things, but I wanted to get most of it written down because this is how I keep our family journal. So if you read this much, good for you!
I did manage to take some family pictures at the beach. They didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, but man, is it hard to take your own family pictures, by yourself. LOL> You should have seen me. I would get the camera all set up, turn on the timer, and then RUN to get in the picture. I would get there just in time to smile, then I would RUN back and see if I got it, etc. Avery couldn't stand taking pictures. Everyone was hot, and it was not fun. SO I was trying so hard to hurry, so yeah, not so great, but good enough. :) We haven't had family pictures since 2008 so it was time for some new ones. I guess it was worth all that hard, hot work. It ruined my hair though. :)
I will post a few pictures here, but they are all on Facebook if you want to look.
These next few are the sunset pictures I took before the Zia fiasco. I wasn't running all over the place for these, so they are actually good. :)
Here are some family pics.
And here are some funny ones where we tried to get the dogs in. Now imagine me setting up the camera, pushing click, running to get in place, picking up a dog, sitting down, just in time for the click. Now that was funny.
Now finally, some beach pictures.