Let's see if I can make this short enough to fit into one post....
We started out super early Sunday morning... we were on the road at 3:30am in hopes that the girls would sleep a good part of the trip. Wrong. They were awake most of the time. They were super good though... they made it until the last hour of the 12 hour trip without getting rowdy at all. Thank goodness for the dual screen DVD player.
There are no pictures of our hotel room. I really don't care to remember it. I was just so disappointed... to the point that I almost insisted that we switch to another hotel. It was old and not what we expected. BUT, I decided it was just a place to sleep and we'd suck it up. You get what you pay for, and we skimped on the lodging part of the budget, so I have no one to blame but myself. I'd rather have the extra money to have fun with. It was clean at least. That's about the nicest thing I can say about it.
We had friends who live in the area. Bill was stationed with them here at Little Rock Air Force Base before he met me and they've kept in touch. The last time we saw them was on our honeymoon almost 9 years ago. Yes, we ended up hanging out with friends on our honeymoon. We got chased out of our original honeymoon location due to a hurricane and they were close, but out of the path, so we spent the remainder of the time there. They have two boys, 11 and almost 10. I worried about them not wanting to have anything to do with the girls because of the age difference, but they were great with all three of the girls and didn't act like they were babies at all.
The first afternoon we were there, we hung out for a bit at a local park with Tina and the boys and the girls go their first look at the Gulf.
There was a little area they discovered where they had a few feet of beach, so we let them get their feet wet... actually more than their feet, but they weren't totally soaked afterwards.
The next day we went to a state park about an hour north of Fort Walton Beach called Ponce De Leon State Park. It's just a little area with a pond (I guess that's what you'd call it) and a shallow creek that you can swim in. The water is 68* year round... pretty cold when the air temperature is 90+. It was neat.
Later that afternoon, we thought about venturing out to the beach on the Air Force base with Tina and the boys. We could tell that it was going to rain soon, but we thought we'd at least get a little time in before it hit.
We were there about 5 minutes before the lightening started and we had to get out of the water.
We retreated to a pavilion, thinking it would be a quick rain storm that we could wait out, but it turned out to be a pretty fierce storm with strong winds, lightening, thunder, and heavy rain.
This child is terrified of thunder. I felt so bad for her that I ran out in the mess to pull the van around and carry her to the relative safety of the van. She was on the lookout for a tornado. It took quite a while to calm her down.
After that, we had dinner at a restaurant next door to the hotel. It was named, get this... The Krustee Krabb. And all the kids menu items were named after Spongebob characters. I wasn't really all that impressed, but the girls got a kick out of it and Bill got frog legs (gross).
Wednesday, we went to the Gulfarium. We caught the sea lion show...
And, of course, the dolphin show...
I was slightly disappointed in the dolphin show. Last time we went, there were two dolphins and I swear it was about twice as long. But we sat in the splash zone and the girls were happy about getting splashed by the dolphin, so that made up for it.
That night, we went out with our friends for dinner and a walk around the Harborwalk Village.
I'm not a fan of seafood at all, but oysters especially gross me out. =)
We finally made it to the beach on Thursday. We went to Navarre Beach and it was just perfect.
Zoe didn't really like the water itself much. All of the girls thought saltwater was pretty nasty. Zoe stayed close to the umbrella most of the time, playing in the sand.
Olivia tried to stay with the boys and their dad as much as possible.
Isabelle isn't dancing. She's about to throw a handful of wet sand at me.
Once I realized we were out of sunscreen and we were looking kind of pink, we packed up and had the best pizza ever at a place called Helen Back. I craved that pizza all the way home. We made plans to go out with Peanut that night while Tina babysat, but I was so sunburned I couldn't bear getting dressed to go out in public and Bill and Peanut were just too tired, so we didn't. We must be getting old. ;)
The next morning, after a breakfast with our friends, we bid a sad farewell and headed back home. But not before I got a picture of this mailbox we had passed a couple of times...
That just does not look right at all. I'm sure it's supposed to be a baby manatee nursing or something, but it certainly does send your mind straight into the gutter.
We plan on going back soon, possibly next summer... our friends could get transferred to another base at any time, so we can't let another 9 years pass us by again!