Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Florida: Beaches, Family, And Fourteen Year Old Crazy Girls

I really wanted to title this post "I Went to Florida and Got Stuck in My Swimsuit. Twice." but since a title is supposed to sum up what's written and getting stuck in my swimsuit (twice!) is only a fraction of what happened, I guess that would be an inaccurate title. I will tell the story of being stuck in my swimsuit (twice!), just not today. Today I'll just fill you in on the rest of the trip.

I drove to Florida with two 14 year old girls.

Really, I could stop there and you might have a pretty good idea of the trip, but since this is my blog and I can get as wordy and boring as I want to, I'll fill you in.

On the way down, I was worried about driving the whole way, so we stopped about half way and stayed in Athens, Alabama. It was there that we did the first of our Walmart stops. Seriously, friends, THREE stops in to Walmart in 24 hours. I've had my fill for a very long time. On the other hand, Walmart! In the South! (Note: In reality, Walmart in the South is exactly like Walmart in Indiana. I have a feeling that Walmart is the same the world over. They just started one and have been duplicating them and the people inside them ever since.)

It was here, in Athens, at the hotel where I first got stuck in my swimsuit. And it was because of this incident that the phrase "Ma'am? Ma'am? Are you engaging in inappropriate behavior in the facilities?" became a hilarious joke and an oft uttered sentence on the rest of the trip. It was also here that we discovered that Natty, (or Notorious, as I call her) the friend that Maggie brought along, talks in her sleep.

We also discovered that Alabama is a very long state. And it's made all the longer when you reach Florala and get stuck for an hour in traffic because everybody and their dog is headed to the beach for the weekend and apparently this is the only road that goes there. Or something.
On the upside, the girls were able to watch and I was able to hear half of the entire first season of LOST on DVD. Awesome! Entertaining! Scary, creepy music to drive to!

Once we arrived at our hotel in Destin and moved our 17 metric tons of crap--by the way, did you know that females have a tendency to overpack??--into the hotel, we headed to Walmart yet again. Good times. Then we went for a walk on the beach. Then we found some place to eat dinner. Then I expired on my bed.

The next day we went over to my sweet Aunt Bonnie's house.

I haven't seen her lovely face in eight (8!!!!) years. She strong armed invited my cousins over too, because I hadn't seen them in eight years either.
Turns out that they are all still very sweet and funny--just like I remember. We had a delicious meal and a good visit.

Then it was back to the hotel to hit the beach. That night the girls and I went for a walk at night to hunt for sand crabs. When they actually found one the size of a spider--an Indiana spider, mind you, not the enormous kind that only seem to breed in hotter climes--you would have thought that it was a giant crab hellbent on destruction for all the screaming and jumping and carrying on that those silly girls were doing.

Moments later, the girls ratcheted their screams up a notch when a passerby found a bigger one and brought it over for their inspection.
The young man even left it in their bucket. I think he might have been trying to flirt with them. I'm not sure the girls could see past the crab, however.

The next several days were spent at the beach, the pool, Goofy Golf (which my aunt's family recently sold and has been a wonderful Florida memory for me for years and years), the Gulfarium,

the pier,
and the movie theater--where we watched "Super 8". Great movie and especially great to see with my daughter who is easily freaked out. (There was a lot of ammunition to use after this movie, is what I'm sayin'.) We also watched a movie in our room--several, actually, because the hotel provided free, unlimited rentals. But the best was watching Liam Neeson get down with his bad self in "Taken." It was here that I introduced the girls to one of my favorite silly things to do during a movie--inserting the word "dammit" at appropriate and inappropriate times and sometimes stretching the word out with a Terminator-like voice--daaaammmaaaat! I fear I may have unleashed a monster upon the world with this. Sorry in advance if you are seated near Maggie or Notorious in a movie theater.

Almost all of our days there were red flag days, meaning that the surf or currents were very strong and caution should be used in the water.

These were the best days for riding the waves on boogie boards and body surfing, however, so we wore ourselves out.

We also found seashells for Mary Rose, who has a collection. And we watched a beach wedding from afar. I also discovered that it is best to wash your suit out after every wearing into the gulf, lest you wind up smelling like something that previously lived in the gulf but was found dead on the beach. Kinda wound up running into the water that day to get away from my own smell. You're welcome!

After spending nearly a week in Destin, we were ready for home and so we made the nearly 14 hour drive in one day. Maggie kept offering to help with the driving. I, wishing for us to arrive home alive, refused. Meanwhile, Natty found my camera and took pictures of herself for me to find later. Wunderbar!

We made it home safely and with no incidents--other than Maggie being grossed out by Waffle House and me losing the feeling in my butt from driving so long--and were met by my beloved and the other kids at 11:30 at night with hugs and kisses. We had a great time, but home felt really good, daaammmaaatt.

My favorite memories of the trip:

*Visiting Navarre with my Aunt Bonnie.

It's a beautiful, nearly pristine stretch of beach that my aunt says looks like it did when they moved to FL over 40 years ago. Simply lovely.

*Playing Goofy Golf with the girls and my Aunt.

*The video of Natty dancing in the Olive Garden bathroom. If I figure out how to get it posted I will. Until then, picture this: Upon entering her stall, Nat says, 'Wow! This stall is huge! You could have a dance party in here!' After exiting her stall, she sets up her iPhone in the sink and dances around to the piped-in muzak of Dean Martin. In the middle of the dancing, this brief conversation: Maggie (from inside her stall): Natalie?
Natalie: What?
Maggie: Are you dancing?
Natalie: (in an astonished tone): Nooo!
Then Natalie leans in close to the camera and chuckles silently and gives the grimace of a villain. Seriously awesome.

*Going to the Krispy Kreme factory store for breakfast and fearing after taking instagram shots that it is a front for the Russian mafia and leaving in a hurry.

*Seeing Nat freak out at trying to touch the horseshoe crabs at the Gulfarium.

*Watching the girls on the pier--including Nat, spitting at the fish and saying 'die fish, die!'.
Who knew that a girl who loves to swim in the ocean would be mortally afraid of fish? Believe me when I say that Maggie and I used this fear to scare Nat for our own entertainment.

We had a great time together. The girls were an absolute blast to be around. I think that the trip will be one that Maggie remembers fondly. I know I will.

Well, except for the getting stuck in my swimsuit (twice!) part.

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