The second part of our amazing Florida Trip was equally as amazing as the first. I spoke about that here:
On our fifth day of vacation we all piled into 2 giant vans and drove to Pensacola Beach. It took us about 7 hours. The vans were way way nicer and more comfortable than I thought they would be. We had tons of room for both our luggage and our people. I got to sit in the back with my hubby visiting – which I NEVER get to do on a trip. I didn’t do any of the driving and somehow I felt a lot better than I usually do on a car trip. Maybe because I was able to relax and move around more. In one car we had Brother #3’s family and my dad. In the other we had Brother #1’s family and my family. The kids all wanted to ride together, but I thought that would just be way too much kid noise. We had talked about switching and being with my nieces part of the time, but between naps and such we just never did. That’s ok, we were able to really play with them at the beach house.
My sister in law bought some little perry the platypus toys for her boys literally on our way out and I bought a similar one for mine right before we left and they were the best investment ever (after the trampoline and the rocky chair). That entertained those boys for like 3 hours. They were even quiet because their perry’s were nesting some eggs. LOL (yeah, we talked about boy and girl differences briefly but it didn’t persuade them.)
So, we set off to Pensacola Beach. The drive DID have a huge amount of rain as a tropical storm was coming through. Also a lot of restroom breaks, mostly mine (sorry, I have a bladder problem, ok!) but we made it and the drive wasn’t bad at all.
The beach house was terrific. There were three separate bedrooms, a loft area with a full sized bunk bed and a queen sized pull out and a “master” with 2 queen beds in it. (yeah, we thought that was weird too, but it worked out.) Naturally we put the kids in the loft. My son loves sleeping with someone and he slept with his next younger boy cousin 2 nights, then with us in a king. The first night he snuggled right up behind my cousin with his arm across him and they fell asleep like that. But after that the two of them had a cough and I think they were waking each other up. AND there were 3 full bathrooms.
Dad immediately claimed the cute downstairs all alone with a private bath bedroom, which was perfect because he didn’t have to hear the kiddos all the time if he didn’t want to.
My sis in law who wanted to be near her coughy son offered to take one bed in the two bed room and I said I didn’t care where I was, but I DO have a very bad snoring problem and am supposed to use a cpap but can’t, so fair warning. The other sis in law decided to stay up there in the 2 bed room too because she has a little one she didn’t want to be clear downstairs from (the 2 year old niece.) Also, probably because those two couples have spent the most time together and maybe know each other’s habits more? Then brother #2 and his fiance came and they got the last private room. Which, honestly, is fair cause they don’t have kids to wrangle and the rest of us do, so giving them a door to shut is probably the best thing.
The house was right on the Intercostal Waterway and had a small dock out the back door. It had a terrific raised porch – very comfortable and overlooking the intercostal waterway. It was simply lovely at night. It had plenty of comfortable seating and a couple tables and a BBQ. We could see the stars and some lights across the waterway, and the water. We could hear the water. We could watch the sun set. It was so nice. The weather was great. It was a little stormy a couple days, but mostly that just cooled things off.
In the back “yard” they had the dock, and a cement platform with a table and chairs and a picnic table. Between the cement platform and the dock was beautiful beach sand. 2 large areas of beach sand instead of grass. Perfect for 6 kids to play in. Aunt #1 brought buckets and shovels and we let the kids go down there as much as they want and dig, build sand castles, bury each other up to their necks, make moats, draw with sticks and more. They even found shells in there. The two year old was hilarious. She seemed to think she needed to pour all the sand into the water off the dock two handfuls at a time. We could see the kids from either “porch” and they stayed away from the water when we weren’t on constant watch. They loved it.
We were a 5 minute walk to the beach. Like, the real beach on the Gulf of Mexico. It was lovely. We headed over after just a few minutes at the house and a little dinner. It was a red flag day, so we were not really supposed to swim. In fact the lifeguard said to only get in to our ankles at most. The rip tide was NOT screwing around. At all. My husband and the 13 year old boy and some of the other men went out way farther than I thought they should, like to their waist. But not for long and they seemed safe about it. I am not a strong swimmer and have always been wary of the water – especially big bodies of water – even lakes. My husband (who grew up on the Black Sea) and my sis in laws and my dad (swim team) are all way more confident than I am thank goodness. My son loved the ocean. It was his first time at an actual ocean. We had to really hold on to the kiddos though with that rip tide and mostly they just waded while holding onto one of us. It was an amazing feeling – all the sand would just be pulled out from under you as the tide went out and you would sink right into the sand. I can see how someone could so easily be pulled out to sea and never been found. The next couple days were much better and the kids were able to actually enjoy the water. They put on floaties and went way out into the water with parents and actually played in the waves.
We went to the beach 2 times a day for the whole stay. We looked for sea shells and my sis in laws found some great ones after the storm. All of the kids were just in love with the ocean. Swimming is something that really fatigues me since I was sick, and I can only do a little of it, so I really only swam twice. But my husband and the two sister in laws who love the water went as much as possible. My uncle (mom’s brother) brought his little sail boat over to our dock and took all the families out on it (except those of us who get motion sick and stayed home and rested – which was a nice treat anyway). All the kids especially loved that. He gave them all a chance to steer and luckily he wasn’t killed by us land lubbers.
We had a kitchen in which we fixed breakfasts, lunches and snacks. For dinner we went out every night. Most people wanted to eat sea food since they were at the ocean and we found some nice places. I personally liked Peg Leg Pete’s the best. They had a sand pit and playground for the kids, so we could sit and talk a bit and their meals came in a plastic sand bucket. Then just as our food came a band struck up some live music that I have to admit I liked.
It was really nice to see my uncle and his lady friend. We also were able to see his daughter and her husband one night, but it was the night we went to scatter ashes so I felt badly I wasn’t able to talk to her much. I remember her from her visit to Wyoming when we were young and our visit to Florida a few years later. I would have liked to have caught up more.
For my son the best part of the trip was playing with his cousins. He loved playing with his “new cousin” the teenager we have brought into the family. Poor teenager felt a little beat up on by me because he can do things the little kids can’t do safely and I had to keep telling everyone to stop. For example, they started a pillow fight and my son (lacking a pillow) decided to use his perry the platypus and hit his little girl cousin in her face with it. I put a stop to pillow fights so no one got hurt. If the teenager had had another older kid it might have been a little more fun. But my son loved playing with him, playing with his best friends, brother #1’s kids, and playing with the girls, brother #3’s kids. He really enjoyed the 2 year old niece. I caught him several times snuggling with her, playing with her hair and just playing nicely with her. He said he likes younger kids.
The best part of the trip was sitting and talking and goofing around with each other. Laughing and enjoying our time together. We did a few crafts/activities for the kids and that was fun too. I had found some pirate face tatoos at Target and took them with us. I am not kidding when I tell you all but the oldest and youngest had pirate beard, mustache, scar, tatoo, and scarf on their faces for two days. Even the 5 year old girl. It was awesome.
If you ever want a nice, quiet experience at a lovely place, go to Pensacola Beach. The only times it was busy was on Saturday night, when it looked like the young crowd came out to party. But the beach we went to – we hardly saw a person there. It was so empty and lovely and nice to spend time together. It wasn’t the crowded crazy beaches you picture at all.
The hospitality business there was terrific, we were able to go to the National Aeronautic Museum there (though I wish we hadn’t taken the kids so we could have enjoyed it) and we had a lovely and relaxing time. I think it’s the first time none of us were doing business half the time, or playing video games. I even put away my facebook.
I am so glad we were able to enjoy this time together and to have fun as a family.