Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vacation Destination

Okaloosa Island, Florida! I don't remember my exact words when I opened the door to the condo and saw all the way through to the outside, but I'm pretty sure it was something that was not quite as lady like as I would normally have it!  The kids were out of earshot... so Parent of the Year award is not in jeopardy!

One of the really great features of where we stayed was the chair and umbrella service.  Every morning these men would come by and set it all up... we didn't have to haul, or set up anything.  We would just walk down, set out our towels, and all day we were in the shade!

Then there is the sand.  It's WHITE!  Seriously!!!  We had to keep sunglasses on at all times, otherwise it was WAY TOO BRIGHT!  Daddio is convinced that the slight sunburn he had on his legs was from the reflection from the sand, not from being out!  It was intense, and nothing like anything we've ever seen before!

Well this is what you came for, right?  A picture tour of the beach!
The view from our balcony!

Also a view from our balcony looking straight down into the pool!
Our condo building.  We were in the unit in the bottom right hand corner.
The water was so amazing!
Now, the important aspect of this picture is SNOOKER!  This is the first year he was totally a daredevil in the water!
Surfing is in our near future!
Bubba practicing his Dead Man float...
It was so fun watching the boys actually SWIMMING in the water.  It was so clear, and pretty deep where we were that they really enjoyed exploring the area!
Bubba and Daddio.  Those two spent a great deal of time snorkeling!
The really cool part of this shot is not only Bubba and Daddio... but the dolphin in the background.  We had a pod that would swim by several times a day!  In this one, they are just on the other side of the sandbar... that's were Bubba and Daddio are headed!
A boy and his net!  He tried like the dickens to catch a fish... sadly crabs were all he managed!
Most mornings started out as green flag days.  The water was as calm as a swimming pool!
This is exactly how it looked... none of these shots have been adjusted one bit!
Well, I figured if I put in a few shots of Daddio, I better add one of me... otherwise he might choose one!

Vacation, leg three

Next up is Alabama. Now I felt sort of bad for Mississippi... we drove right though, not stopping even once. It was lovely from the car window!

Saturday morning we woke up, hit Cafe Du Monde, then headed out. We would be reaching our final destination today, but saw online about the USS Alabama and the SR-71 they had on static display. Naturally we had to stop!

Wow!  That thing is HUGE!  We were able to tour both the battleship, the submarine, and the static display before we were all pooped out and needed to eat lunch!  If you are driving through this area, and your kids can manage stairs (lots and lots of them), it's worth the stop!


Vacation, leg two

Friday morning we set out for NOLA! It was an easy drive, and we arrived just a lunch time (score!). We found a great parking spot down south of the French Quarter, on the river... and went to Landry's for lunch... Heaven, I'm in Heaven... oh how I love good seafood!  The city beckoned, and we obliged!

After a little discussion we decided that the best way to see the most we could would be to take a carriage ride!  It really was a lot of fun.  Belle, and noble... ahh, mule was a doll, and the carriage driver was funny!  We were taken through each block, with all sorts of things being pointed out to us... even Brad and Angelina's home, the home that the IRS took back from Nick Cage, and the bar that stayed open through Hurricane Katrina.

Oh, and I had no idea that there was an Ursuline Convent and school down there, but boy was that a pretty sight in the city!

After the carriage ride, we did a little more exploring on foot.  We really wanted to take a peak inside St. Louis Cathedral.  It's the oldest cathedral, and second oldest church... anyone know the oldest church????  It's in St. Augustine (we saw it on a travels to Florida a few years ago).  I'm thinking I should make us a passport of all the Catholic hotspots we've hit over the years!

Anyhooooooo, it is so beautiful on the inside, and out!  We were able to go in, spend some quiet time in prayer, and have a look around.  WOW!  Just outside of the cathedral (not shown in the picture) is a section of street that is closed off.  Now, if you've never been it is little shocking and annoying (in my opinion)... but there are fortune tellers and crap all set up right there... just outside of the doors!  YUCK!

Well, that pretty much rounded out our NOLA time... oh wait, there's one more thing you must have when you are in the French Quarter... beignets.  Now, growing up (in Louisiana), my mom would make them... but I never had the originals from Cafe Du Monde... Heaven, I'm in Heaven... Powdery Sugar Wonderfulness!

Vacation, leg one

Every January we start planning our summer vacation. It is always a bittersweet event... I mean, it is super exciting to starting making plans, but it is oh so painful to wait until May before we can get on the open road. This year we decided it was time to venture beyond our comfort zone, we saw a great deal in Florida on a condo on the beach and BAM booked it! I'll admit I was slightly skeptical on just how beautiful the beach and ocean looked. Trust me, we've seen pictures and then arrived to something lovely but not really what the pictures would lead you to believe. Well, I'll stop there because I'm not sharing that part just yet, and start the journey with you. Oh yes, it was a journey!

We decided to break up the trip a little since we would be crossing 5 states. I'm originally from Louisiana, with family still there. So on Thursday we headed out and spent the evening with my cousins.

Thanks to our giddiness to get on the road, we were making good time. When we saw the sign for The Big Thicket National Park, it was a no brainer, we need to pull over and check it out. They have a lovely main office, gift shop, and movie about the park and it's origins. Naturally we wanted to see more. We spoke with a park ranger about all the different hiking trails, and found one that we thought would be a nice 2 mile hike! Wow! I highly recommend this park. Honestly I can't wait until we can get back down there again and hit other trails they have. To be able to traverse all of the different ecosystems that are found in one place is really something special. The trees were so cool, and we even found wild black berries. YES, we picked a few and the boys tried them. SO AWESOME!!!!  Then it was back in the car for the last few miles to get to our evening stop.

My cousin's place is just perfect for boys!  They have a large property with cows, chickens, a horse, and a pond... and all of our kids play so well together! The boys had a blast! I had a lot of fun too, catching up... and once again found out just how tasty I am to local mosquitoes!  In just a few minutes outside I wound up with about 30 bites on my legs (a week and a half later I still have about half of them that I'm trying NOT to scratch).  Oh well, it was worth it :-).