Our family FINALLY got to take a beach vacation this year. Shawn & I hadn’t been to the beach since our 1st anniversary, and our kids had never been, so when my parents said they got a beach house in Destin, we immediately jumped at the opportunity! Ava had seen Dora’s “Beach” episode several times, so she was also very excited to go to the beach. She started asking almost every day if we were going that day, so I decided we should make a beach countdown.
After we made the countdown, I told Ava to show me what her face would look like when she sees the beach, and this is what we got 🙂 Since we were driving to Destin with my parents, we drove to Huntsville the night before (on Friday). When we got to Huntsville Friday afternoon, my dad watched the kids while Shawn and I had some things to take care of, so he thought it would be appropriate to test out the beach shelter my mom got. Ava got to tear off her last ring to the beach vacation countdown.
One more day!
Ava showing us what she’ll do when she sees the beach
So Saturday morning we were off! Since neither my parents or Shawn & I have a vehicle that can seat 6 people, we decided to rent a vehicle so that we could all drive together. That vehicle ended up being a mini van…
The Mini Van
This was going to be a true family vacation….we were just hoping it wasn’t going to turn in to a Clark Griswold family vacation 🙂 The drive to Destin was going to take 10 hours (of drive time), so we decided to break it up and do 5 hours each day. Saturday we were going to drive to Baton Rouge, and stay with my Great Aunt Narcille (my mother’s aunt). The kids (Ava) were very excited to get going, and they did REALLY well on the trip!
And we’re off!
An hour into the trip…
Unfortunately it didn’t stay like this for too long…Mommy needed to go potty (darn Route 44s)
We arrived in Baton Rouge about 6 hours after we left, and the kids did very well, but were definitely ready to get out! We met my Aunt Narcille and Aunt Martha, and we all went out to eat at a Restaurant called The Chimes, right across from LSU’s campus. With the Aggies becoming members of the SEC this summer, this restaurant was more intriguing than it might have been in years prior. Nevertheless, it was absolutely delicious! Those Tigers know how to eat! After dinner, we rushed to bed, anxious to get an early start so we could spend the next afternoon on the white beaches of Destin! We were sure to get a picture of the kids with Aunt Narcille, though…it had been a VERY long time since we had seen her!
Aunt Narcille and Ava
Aunt Narcille, Briggs, & Ava
We’re off again! Ava’s working on saving ALL her energy for the beach!
We’ve made it to Florida!
The kids look thrilled, don’t they :p
Now, I do have to tell a little story with the hat. The morning we were leaving, Ava went with me to Target. I told her she could get a beach hat, and she had a hard time choosing between this hat and a pink cowgirl hat. She eventually chose this (after I told her this would be what Dora would wear to the beach…I loved the cowgirl hat, too, but this hat had more coverage). Anyways, she is usually not crazy about wearing hats, so I made her promise me that if I bought it, she would wear it. Apparently, she thought that meant everywhere! She didn’t take it off until we actually got to the beach (she would have lost it in the waves).
It wasn’t too long after we crossed into Florida that we made it to Destin. As soon as we checked out our condo, and got unpacked, we were in our suits and off to the beach!
The kids LOVED the beach! Ava had tons of fun in the waves, which were HUGE! We were in Destin at the perfect time. The week before they had lots of rain, and then we left right as the tropical storm was coming in. We were really lucky…all we had to deal with was a strong surf. The big waves scared Briggs, so he wasn’t so crazy about the ocean water, but he loved the sand…so much that he ate it by the handfuls (God made dirt, and it don’t hurt, right :p). Here are some pics from our first day.
Running with Bumpy into the waves
The beaches are gorgeous!
Daddy showing Briggs how to build a sand castle
So…can I eat this now?
Mom, aka “Honey”
Ava & Bumpy hangin’ in the surf
Ava is loving it!
Still playing in that white sand
Briggs bear-crawling back to Daddy
This sand is tasty
I love my baby boy!
Ava & Shawn
Playing in the water with the kids
After playing on the beach for a couple of hours, we got showered and dressed for dinner. We headed down to the Harbor Walk to find a restaurant and see some sites. The Harbor Walk restaurants were all pretty crowded, and we were worried about how the kids would handle it considering they had driven in a car for about 6 hours, played hard on the beach for a couple of hours, and were eating dinner way past their bedtime. We ate at Harry T’s…it was super yummy, and the kids did extremely well!
Briggs was hungry…apparently sand isn’t that filling
Briggs with his Daddy
Ava with Honey & Bumpy
The kids slept WELL that night! We got up Monday morning at headed to the beach as soon as possible! Ava played hard then napped in the beach shelter.
Play hard….Rest hard
Honey relaxing after working all morning!
After playing all day at the beach, we went out that evening on one of Destin’s famous dolphin cruises. The boat ride was fun, but after the boat took off, the captain told us that the dolphins had been sparse lately…gee, thanks. We did find two dolphins, that we, along with 2 other dolphin cruise boats, followed around the bay. Like I said, the boat ride was fun, and it was exciting when we did see the dolphins, but the whole trip could have been about 45 minutes shorter (to be fair – it was prime dinner time, so that probably didn’t help).
Ava found a pirate while we were waiting on our cruise
Happy as a clam
Mom & Dad
aka Honey & Bumpy
Ava was in a very silly mood that night!
Sportin’ Bumpy’s shades
Striking a pose
Trying to get this silly girl to smile for the picture
They let the kids go up and take a picture with the captain!
Ava loved it…she thought she was going to get to drive the boat all the way back.
Briggs, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about it
After the dolphin cruise, we ate dinner on the Harbor Walk again, this time at Crab Island Cantina…again, very yummy! Briggs out-ate everyone, I’m pretty sure. After dinner, we had to walk to the other side of the Harbor to get to our car, and they have lots of fun things for the kids. The night before, Ava had spotted these life-size bubbles that you get blown up into, and she REALLY wanted to do it! Ava must have been quite convincing, because Honey took her to do it! It was quite hilarious! I was a little worried that she would get a little claustrophobic and freak out when she couldn’t get out, but I shouldn’t have been she absolutely loved it, and she didn’t get out until she REALLY needed to go potty.
Getting blown up in the bubble!
The guy told her to cover her ears while he blew up the bubble
All blown up and walking to the bubble pool!
We had to tell her she could uncover her ears…she thought she had to keep them covered the whole time. Silly girl!
Crawling into the bubble pool
Most of the kids that do this are a bit older, so she had quite the crowd
Trying to stand, and not being successful
Trying to stand again
Finally stood up!
The next day was spent where days in Destin were meant to spent, on the beach! Here are some more beach pictures!
Bumpy and Ava lounged on the beach in their new beach chairs
Bumpy got buried…he didn’t seem to mind
The beach was red flagged all week, with big waves and a strong current! It sure was beautiful, though!
Ava collecting sea shells and ocean water
Tuesday evening my parents’ friends Alfred and Ava (we call her Big Ava and our Ava Little Ava when we’re all together :p) joined us on our vacation. We stayed in that evening, and my dad grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.
Briggs liked the lounge chairs.
Big Sister was making sure Briggsy-Bear didn’t fall off the chair
Love these two!
Trying to contain her brother
Some friends of ours, Nina & Kevin, who moved from College Station to Fort Walton about a year and a half ago also joined us for dinner that night. It was good to catch up with them!
Shawn & Nina used to work together at the hospital
Wednesday was probably our favorite day. We rented a pontoon boat, cruised the bay, and spent the majority of the day at Crab Island.
Gorgeous!!! The water and my sweet baby girl!
Briggs was NOT a fan of the puffy life jacket…can’t imagine why!
My Briggsy-Bear & Me!
Honey, Ava, & Bumpy hanging out at Crab Island!
It was like a salt water pool with a sand bottom and a current!
The self-employed never stop working…even on vacation!
Alfred….aka Scuba Steve inspecting the waters
Briggs taking a break with the beach ball
Briggs thought the towel made a nice pillow
No better place to take a nap!
My Ava baby taking a break from the water
After swimming at Crab Island, we took the pontoon for a cruise through the bay.
Hehe…love this picture
Ava got to drive with her daddy, too
Then Ava fell asleep…A day in the sun, sand, and water is exhausting!
That was such a FUN day! Crab Island is a must do if you ever go to Destin! We rented our pontoon boat from Blue Heron, and they were wonderful! We definitely recommend them and will rent from them again next time we go. Wednesday evening we also headed back to the Harbor Walk to eat at Dewey Destin’s….a place we had heard a lot about! We were anticipating having to wait for a while, so we took the wagon with us, and walked along the Harbor while we waited. That was Shawn’s idea…and it was GENIUS.
Briggs was ready to go
He’s got animal crackers…she has cheese its. Happy kids!
On the Harbor Walk
Sunset on the harbor
Two hours later, we finally got seated at Dewey Destins, and it was very yummy. You have to go there, though, expecting to wait. If you know you’re going to wait, and you’re okay with that, then you can enjoy it. If you go without that expectation, then you won’t be very happy.
Thursday was a bit more relaxed than the previous days. My dad and Alfred got up CRAZY early and went deep-sea fishing. The rest of us did some shopping. Dad got some pics of their fishing trip.
All the fishing boats heading out to sea
Alfred pulling in a snapper (I think…I’m no fisherman)
Alfred doing his thing
A body-less King Mackerel (I think…again, I’m not a fisherman). It was a full-bodied fish, until a shark needed breakfast…this is what was left.
The guys got caught quite a bit of fish and cooked it for dinner Thursday night along with shrimp and hush puppies…YUM!! Before dinner, though, we all did some late afternoon beach time.
Bumpy took Ava on a wagon wave ride.
Look at those skies! This was the only day we had less than sunny weather. It only lasted about an hour or so, and it didn’t stop us!
Showing off a seashell
Heading back to the condo
After devouring the delicious freshly caught fish, we headed up to the top deck to watch Destin’s Thursday night fireworks.
Ava is ready for the show
Ava striking a pose with Honey
Bumpy and his silly monkey!
Big Ava & Alfred
Cameras never take good fireworks photos (at least mine don’t), but here’s one! We had a great view, especially when you consider when were in the comfort of our own private deck, with our own beverages and no crowds
Friday was our last full day in Destin, so we spent it all at the beach, and didn’t get any pictures taken, just enjoyed the day. Friday was also the day Shawn and I chose to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Our actual anniversary is June 24, and we would be spending it driving back to Texas, so we took advantage of being in Destin and having babysitters on hand, and we went out to dinner.
Can’t believe it has been 6 years since we said, “I do!”
We took the advice from Nina and Kevin, and ate at their favorite restaurant, Bonefish. It is now our favorite restaurant. It was SCRUMPTIOUS!! I was extremely thankful I wore a nice flowy dress because I pigged out! If you find yourself in a city with a Bonefish, you MUST go!
Saturday was a sad day, as it was the day we were departing Destin. We made our last meal in Destin breakfast at the Donut Hole.
A group picture before heading back to Texas
Nina and Kevin stopped by to tell us bye! It was so good seeing them, and hopefully we will get to see them again soon.
The kids were zonked from such a fun week, and passed out not even 10 minutes after leaving Destin
On the drive up, the kids both did really well with a 5 hour drive time (really 6 including stops), so we decided to do the same again.
Playing catch during a “stretch” break
We drove an extra hour and made it all the way to Lafayette, LA. The restaurant Prejeans came highly recommended, and we ate an extremely tasty Cajun dinner.
Ava thought Briggs needed help eating…HA
It was the perfect meal for our last vacation dinner.
Ava got quite friendly with the band, and now she wants an accordion.
Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early, ate breakfast and drove back to Huntsville. It was the shortest leg of the trip, at only 4 hours, but it felt the longest…I don’t think anyone was ready to say good-bye to such a magnificent vacation. Once we arrived in Huntsville we unloaded the mini-van, cleaned it up (20 hours of driving to keep kids appeased with gold-fish, cheese its, etc gets quite messy), and repacked our car, we were off to College Station to get back to the real world (kind of – I’m still on summer vacay :p).
There were so many wonderful things about our vacation, but the WORST part was….we actually liked the mini-van.