Monthly Archives: March 2015

Day 454 of Life on the Road as a Family

IMG_5708This was Eliza’s first driving lesson and she did GREAT!  We’ve been meaning to practice, but just hadn’t found a good empty parking lot until this one at Big Lagoon State Park.  There were a few cars driving around, but she went around them and drove for about 90 minutes.  On a stick! Way to go, Eliza, that’s a memory will have for years… and I didn’t cry, amazing.  I was too busy trying to find the words to describe the clutch.  I am so proud of this young lady!

IMG_5741Later that same day we went to the Perdido Key beach again, and saw this guy.  I just think they are gorgeous and cannot watch them enough!

IMG_5769Eliza bet Nate that he couldn’t dig a hole as tall as he is now, but of course he did.  I think she still owes him.  By the end, he was standing in about 6″ of water and it was very cold.  So fun.

IMG_5779After hours on the beach, we were all ready to head home and eat.  Guess who carried most of the stuff?!  Even with teenagers who are fully capable, we are still the Sherpas.

IMG_5827On another day we went to the Pensacola Navy Base, which is just 5 miles from the campground.  We rode the trolley and listened to the tour guide tell us about all the airplanes that were outside, still waiting to be restored so they can be moved inside.  Every other sentence he said, “oh, but that’s in the building that’s closed” and we just laughed because we run into that all over, “closed for repairs today” “open again tomorrow”, etc,, and we think it’s so funny.  This picture is a screen shot of the IMAX movie we watched about WWII.  Narrated by Tom Brokaw, of course, it was done in 2014 and is incredible!  This book actually opened onscreen and the popups happened in front of our eyes.  As Nate keeps telling me, “yes, Mom, it’s computer generated”.  To an excellent degree.  Fascinating movie.  The Air Museum itself is huge and like a Smithsonian, you could take days to read and learn everything.  We had lunch at the recreated Gobi cafe, walked around for another couple hours, and headed home to play with the dogs.

IMG_5943Just by chance, one of the tour guides mentioned that the Blue Angels would be practicing their show Monday and Tuesday, so to come back for the 11:30 a.m. show then.  We happened to watch the news the first morning and heard that they were still in California, so practice wasn’t until Tuesday.  We went to the base at about 10 a.m. and the parking lot was almost full.  People were streaming onto the airfield, but I took the time to question a Marine at the door about how he got interested in them, because Nate is thinking about a military career. So fun to hear what real guys have to say, not just read about it all online.  Of course, the young man told Nate he’d love it…

The airshow itself lasted about an hour, and we were lucky enough to have front row seats!  I love it when life on the road allows the fun stuff to consume our days.  One of the 6 planes dropped out early on, and the guide said if they have any radio difficulties, they land, and he might be able to take another plane up.  I say “he” because it’s still an exclusive all boys club, ages 30-mid 40’s, who get the honor of flying for the two years on the Blue Angels team.  They are based here, but spend most of their time doing shows around the country.  As we drove onto the base again, I was grousing about how much the Blue Angels cost me as a taxpayer, and Dan reminded me that it’s probably less than the government wastes on other things every minute.  Yes, probably true. By the end of the airshow, the 6th plane hadn’t come back, but I was firmly in my patriotic-American-mode again and happy that we had taken the time to come see them practice.  With 2,000 of our closet friends.

IMG_6048I went out to see my last Perdido Key Gulf beach sunset last night and I just wanted to sit down and throw a tantrum like a 3 year old so I wouldn’t have to leave… we’ve been in Florida 132 days, and I’ve spent most of them on one beach or another.  I prefer the Gulf side now, with the Keys being the ultimate, and St. Joseph Peninsula Park being a close second.  This is a beautiful area here, just too many people for my liking. And now it’s spring break so every silly college student is here and many of them are camped around us.  Last night, however, I had the beach mostly to myself again because it was dinner time.  The lady ranger told me to get off the beach before dark because of the drinking, and I did.  But for 90 minutes I watched the beautiful purple and pinks turn into to yellow and oranges.  I counted my blessing and listened to Zac Brown sing about being “knee deep in the water somewhere… not a worry in the world, except is the tide gonna reach my chair” – just a great beach song.  I’ve enjoyed every minute of Florida, even though we’ve had to get out coats and jeans and endure persistent bugs without names.  I liked island life and the way food and friends are more important than what you wear or what you do for a job.  I will miss the beaches and I will be back!

Day 444 of Life on the Road as a Family, Perdido Key, FL

IMG_5655I went to walk on the beach after “school” yesterday and look who greeted me just as I walked down the boardwalk to the sand!  He just strutted by, paused while I quickly took out my camera, and then turned around and walked back to the water.  I prefer to think that he was welcoming me to the beach…

IMG_5659Further down the beach, this guy was hanging out near the fisherman and was fully expecting treats to come his way.  A local told me that one day when she was fishing a heron came up to her with what looked like a broken wing, so she gave him a treat. Then he walked off with his wing just fine. She watched him go up to several other fishermen and do the same thing for a piece of fish or bait.  Smart guy!

IMG_5675Heading back down the beach to my car, I watched the sun set and this guy turned out to be my favorite.  No matter how close I got, he just watched me and posed for the dozen pictures I took. So funny!  Very nice to share my time on the beach with all of them.  The buildings at the end of the picture are hotels or condo’s – they extend way down the island and are huge.  It’s spring break right now so there are many people here vacationing, but I was lucky to get the beach almost to myself again.  Heaven!

Day 439 of Life on the Road as a Family, Destin, FL

IMG_5539Here’s an interior picture of the Destin library that we studied at for 2 weeks! Built in 2003, we were initially excited that the wifi might work and it would be a good work space, until we were at a table for 5 minutes and could hear every word that the librarians were saying all over the library. See that beautiful ceiling?  It echos their words.  The librarians sit just to my left.  On the right is the most beautiful children’s room that we’ve seen in a library yet.  With an ocean theme and hand painted quotes and pictures on the walls, it is the ideal room to have a children’s story time.  Unfortunately, the architect left the ceiling of the room open to where I am standing, so the kids voices and the librarian leading the story hour could be heard everywhere in the whole building!  It’s so crazy.  We’ve been in many libraries where this happens, but that beautiful ceiling makes this one the worst.  The other patrons would just get up and leave when it started, as they knew when story hour was scheduled.  We did the same the next week.  Gorgeous library, the wifi worked in some places, and we learned more about other patrons’ library antics than we ever wanted to!

Day 438 Life on the Road as a Family, Henderson Beach St Park, FL

Not that I wanted to go swimming anyway, but that red flag means the beach is closed!  I walked the dogs this morning, then IMG_5522came out here to see the water and take a short run.  Dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches in Florida, have I mentioned that?  It’s nice to not step around the piles, but sad when you just want to play with your dog and will pick up after them.  Anyway, the humidity was so high this morning, my jacket was wet before I even started running.  Yes, wearing a jacket because it’s windy!  It ended up being a GREAT run on the beach, just a heavenly way to start another day on the road.  Now off to study at the library we go…

Day 435 of Life on the Road as a Family, Destin, FL

IMG_5483Here’s the drizzle for today!  I didn’t even walk all the way out the boardwalk to the Gulf because it was so grey and I had the dogs with me.  Dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches in Florida, which is nice when they are packed with people and little kids, but sad when I would have been the only one there.  It’s a perfect day for a long walk, a long bike ride, and a long nap!

Day 433 Life on the Road as a Family, Henderson Beach State Park, FL

IMG_5443Friday’s sunset was worth the wait – just beautiful from start to finish.  We had a long week at the library, the kids and I studying hard and Dan answering every odd question we had.  It rained all week and was so cold we had to break out jeans and sweaters and coats.  I had to approach two strangers to proctor my unit exams, (the library here won’t do it) the first suggesting that I work in a local gentlemen’s club instead of getting my broker’s license and the second telling me how to educate my kids.  We put up with more Florida drivers and Eliza and I got hair cuts at a local salon.  (Worst hair cut EVER for me.)  I had yet another person ask, “why” when she found out what we were doing, and we consoled  dogs who had to be inside the rig most of the rainy days.

But you know what?  None of that matters to me.  I can “Shake It Off” as Taylor Swift says because I am happy and living my dream.  I feel sorry for people who are so unhappy in their own lives that they have to poison other people’s days, and I try to spend as little time as possible around them.  A friend said I need to wear a t-shirt that says, “Stay out of my way, I’m happy”, but I think many of us over 50 could wear the same shirt.

So I headed out to the beach tonight to take a short run and watch the sun go down over the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s not a spectator sport here like it was in the Keys or Peninsula, so I almost had the beach to myself.  It was so beautiful and the surf was pounding the beach hard, so I got wet as I ran along the edge.  Smiling the whole way.

Day 429 of Life on the Road as a Family, Henderson Beach State Park, FL

Here’s our site for 13 nights and here’s the weather that we’reIMG_5391supposed to get, ugh.  It’s freezing!  Grey, wet and 15 degrees below “normal” temperatures, so say the locals. We’ve heard that everywhere we’ve been on this adventure.  “Oh, no, we’ve never had snow here in April”, “First hurricane to hit our town”, “it’s never been this hot” and my favorite, “what did you expect?” We expect heat and sun!  I demand a refund, Governor Scott!

Day 428 of Life on the Road as a Family, Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, FL

We made it!IMG_5369Here’s my wonderful family, humoring me by heading to the beach as soon as we got the rig set up in our site.  They’d all be just as happy to hang out, but the water pulls me and I HAVE to go see it, see what the beach is like, what birds there are, how many shells I get to collect, where the sun sets, how far we can walk on it.  This state campground has about one mile of beach front, and then on either end there are high rises packed in.  It’s always hard to leave a great park, and I can tell already that this beach experience will be a little different.   It’s beautiful, but not unspoiled like Peninsula.  Our site is big and level and graveled, there are groceries a mile away, the library will be a short 7 mile drive, and we have phones and wifi that works, but HWY 98 is a 1/2 mile away and we can hear the drone of the traffic over the roar of the surf from our site.  I’ll take remote and unspoiled over noise any day.  I’ll just have to listen to music while I walk!

IMG_5375This is looking south down the beach, and Eliza took it as I was letting the wind help me blow bubbles.  Pure joy to be on the beach, in the sun with my family.  I  am in my happy zone even though THERE ARE NO SHELLS TO COLLECT.  I couldn’t believe it.  A beach without shells or agates?!  How can that be?!  Where’s God’s artwork?!  A local told me that the best shells are down the coast, where we’ve just come from, and they only get them here after big storms or hurricanes.  I can do without more bad weather, so I’ll just have to enjoy the green water and the seagulls.

IMG_5385I talked Nate into a little creativity time when we got back to the site and then we laughed over my simple snowman compared to his armored warrior.  Can’t wait to get these made into the screen door when we get home…  which we’ve been talking a lot about lately.  Going home.  HOME.  We’ve got 5 months left of this adventure and Dan and I know it will pass quickly.  We only did 6 1/2 months in 1998, and that was a blur.  We’re getting excited to see friends, family and our mountains again, but we also are cherishing each day on the road a little bit more now.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 428 days because we can remember each one, and Dan could list our campgrounds in a flash if he had to.  (Especially the ones when it was a rodeo to get into the site!)  The kids have grown up so much in 428 days, and we’ve done more and seen more than we even dreamed possible.  We know we are blessed to be living this dream and we don’t take it for granted.