In late May we took Charlie out of school early one Friday and headed out to Florida. At the time it had been a month since the oil spill had begun, and I hadn't heard a whole lot about it yet in the news. Our first pit stop was in the hot and sticky Baytown...but since Granny and Bubba were there, it was quite bearable.
Then we drove on into Louisiana, stayed the night in a hotel, and drove the rest of the way on Saturday. Honestly, it went much smoother than I expected. Here's partly why: I made up a bunch of snacks for the trip. Packed each kid his own little lunch box of bagged fruits, veggies, string cheese, pb&j's, and dip. Packed him his own big bag of his favorite toys and activities, and snacks. That way, all we had to stop for was going to the bathroom, and for "meals" we only ordered sandwiches, no need for fries and drinks. I also had a cooler full of water and green tea bottles. It worked like a charm! And not only did it save money, we ate better, and felt better. I'll definitely be doing that more often...
Ok, so we get into Mobile, Alabama, and we see oil in the water...whoa! Hadn't heard that on the news (yet)...
This is only 100 miles from Destin.
So we were quite relieved to see that Pensacola (at that time) and everything East of that was still unaffected. And oh man, is it beautiful. I shot this from the second story balcony of our place at the beach.
We met up with Chuck's whole family: Mom, Dad, 3 sisters and their families, cousin and her family. We stayed in a huge house. It was so nice, I think we were all in awe about it for awhile.
All in all, we had 12 adults and 11 kids together for 7 nights. And had a complete blast doing it!
We got in that evening, got settled, went grocery shopping. The next morning it was time to hit up the beach...We were one block away, which I loved because I didn't have to worry about the kids sneaking off in the night and getting in trouble (yes, I'm crazy enough to worry about those things...). The kids were up so early, so excited to play with their cousins.
Chandler and Beau, doing what 2 yr olds do best: destroying sand castles. So funny!
Here's a sandcastle the kids made later in the week, which Chandler and Beau did not destroy.
Some played football.
Some boogie boarded.
On the final day, we kayaked.
We took walks in the evenings.
We beach combed. (This is Ethan.)
Nearly all the fishermen/women caught sting rays at some point. Grandma caught a fish once that was then stolen off her line by a shark!
Here's proof that my indoors-loving man actually came outside...and even got wet!
But most of all, we swam. and swam. and swam.
Then we'd go back to the house and swim some more (in the pool).
Charlie and Ethan fighting with light sabers while jumping in the pool.
But then things took a turn. On Monday, Chandler started vomiting with a stomach bug. After 6 am Tuesday he finally stopped, and slept most of Tuesday morning. But then he threw up again that afternoon. The hardest part was trying to keep him in our room. He wanted to play with all his cousins so much! Thankfully we had a balcony where he could blow bubbles, and a big bath tub he could "swim" in. My poor sick boy. :(
Tuesday while I stayed with Chandler, Chuck took the boys to a miniature golf/arcade place.
What's ironic about this picture?
Then Tuesday night the bug started for Chuck. During the day Wednesday, while Chuck stayed quarantined, I took the boys to the Gulfarium.
Checking out the dolphins as they swim by.
The dolphin show.
Chandler's favorite part was the sea lion exhibit/show.
My favorite part was the tank where anyone could touch horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, sea urchins, and star fish.
Charlie loved how they were so hard on top, but so soft underneath.
So that was our Wednesday. Thursday was my turn with the bug, and Friday was Chance's. We managed to get him feeling well enough to take pictures Friday evening - our last evening there.
That night Charlie got his turn. Thankfully, he was well enough for the drive home the next morning. I was so happy we didn't have to do barf bags! We traveled so well (once again, thanks to the snacks and toys), we made it all the way to my home town of Port Arthur. My mom (Granny) and sisters came by to visit us while we swam (again!!) in the pool that evening, then it was off to bed. We figured out the best way for 3 boys to sleep in a queen bed was to turn them...
Shortly after I took this picture, Chandler threw up again. Actually, he had to be quarantined nearly the whole week because he would throw up about once a day, then go back to normal. But this had been nearly 48 hours since his last episode, and it was really starting to worry me. This was day #7 since the bug started. So instead of spending that Sunday with my family, we decided to get back on the road to get Chandler to a doctor back home.
But a few hours in, the boys were restless, so we made a pit stop at a store they never knew existed:
And on the way home, Charlie made various lego things and put them in Chance's hands, mouth...even down his shirt while he slept! Oh brothers!
We made it back to San Antonio that afternoon and I took Chandler to Urgent Care. They couldn't find anything wrong with him. He'd also had diarrhea for 7 days and it continued for about 2 more...but after that he was fine. Thus ended our vacation. But, if we had to be sick, at least it was in a beautiful setting! :)
If you look closely, you can see the sting rays swimming in the water. They came so close to shore that we could have touched them! They were beautiful swimmers.
It was surreal being there, knowing that the oil was about 40 miles off shore. Hearing business owners say they'd gone from 89% booked to 18% booked for the summer already. My cousin went there last week and as of this post, it hadn't come ashore yet. It's such a gorgeous place, the pictures don't do it justice. I loved how the sand squeaks, and how clear the blue water was. I find myself craving another visit. I totally see why people go there every year! My hope and prayer is that the oil will be able to be cleaned up quickly and that life will flourish there again.