Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Week at the Beach

For the past several years, the clan has wanted to go on a vacation together. However, ever since our last trip in 2005, we have been unable to for a variety of reasons. This year was different, and the Lord was gracious enough to allow us to go to Cape San Blas. Unfortunately, we were short a few people, as Noah and Gabe were too busy with work and school and Ben was unable to take time off from teaching to go with us. Nonetheless, our rather large group rented two houses (one of which was the one we five stayed in during our vacation last year, and the other was on the same extended driveway).

We left on September 8th. The day before that was rather hectic. We had to run several errands, and then Mom and I had to clean the church (Mandy previously had that job, but I've more or less inherited it when she got her current job) and go shopping. Then I went home and made rosemary potatoes, as we three kids spent the rest of the evening hanging out with some friends. It was a fun time, as we enjoyed some homemade barbecue, got involved in a water balloon fight that also included a hose, and sitting around a campfire and just talking. We wanted to stay longer, but eventually we had to leave because we had to get up the next morning.

On Saturday morning, we woke up around 6:30 and began helping Dad pack up the car as well as packing some last-minute items. The clan was supposed to meet around 7:30, but several members were late, meaning that we did not get on the road until after 8 AM. We made a few stops for breakfast, lunch, and gas, but we made good time and got to the beach houses in the mid-afternoon after a seven hour drive. We then unpacked and had pizza for dinner.

The days all sort of blended together, so I will just point out some highlights of the trip.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was stormy on Saturday and Sunday, but the weather cleared up and grew calmer. As the weather grew calmer, so did the ocean; on one of the days, the water was almost crystal clear and was so calm that it was more like a lake than an ocean.

We five had a nice house. Nicknamed "The Treehouse," it had a nice set of spiral stairs. Some of the younger cousins had fun throwing some toy stuffed dragons down the stairs and seeing how far they could go. Because only we five were in the house, it was quieter than the other house. On a few occasions, some of the older cousins came over in the afternoons to do some schoolwork without the chaos of the younger cousins.

Our days were pretty relaxing. We would wake up the mornings, enjoy some breakfast, go down to the beach for a few hours, go back to the houses for lunch, relax in the houses during the afternoons, get together for dinner, go down to the beach for a walk or for some brief swimming, and then hang out for the evening before going to bed. We did venture out a few times during the week. On Tuesday afternoon, we went to Applachicola; we did a bit of casual shopping, had dinner at a local restaurant, and then got ice cream at a local tourist stop. On Thursday, we had dinner at another local restaurant and then went back to the house to have Key Lime pie for dessert. Also on Thursday, we went out in an attempt to do some shelling; however, one place only had smaller shells while the other place was undergoing high tide and thus had no beach.

This year, we saw quite a lot of wildlife wherever we went. There were jumping fish (Uncle Josh said they were whiting), and we even saw some other fish while we were swimming. We saw dolphins several times, especially when the fish were doing their acrobatics. We even saw a few sting rays; one of those times, we saw one jumping out of the water, and Uncle Jason caught a video of another one swimming near the shore while we were out shelling on Thursday. On Thursday, we saw a pelican on shore while we were shelling; the fellow had a rather large fish in front of him and was trying to eat it, though we think the fish may have been too big to fit into his mouth. Still, it was an entertaining scene. Our other wildlife, unfortunately, also included black flies; these flies were horrendous, flocking to us when we were doused in bug spray and sitting on the beach or when we were standing in the water, and nothing seemed to keep them at bay; they were one of the reasons that some days we had return to the houses early. Other wildlife included a few frogs, some rather loud locusts who nearly made us go deaf, sand fleas, ants, and a mysterious big cat (i.e. bigger than a house cat) that was hanging around the garbage cans.

On Thursday evening, there was some debate on whether or not some people would return home on Friday. The next day, Uncle Jason and his family decided to leave a day early so that they could get home and be able to get ready for church on Sunday; Mom, Mandy, and I also decided to go home early with Grandpa Mike and Marsha so that we would be able to get the church cleaned early. It seemed to be a long drive home on Friday evening, and Mandy was antsy, especially as we grew closer to Atlanta. Ben, who had kept an eye on the house and the cats for us, waited for us three, and Mandy was extremely ecstatic to see him; the two stayed up until 2 AM that night talking as, there was not a good cell phone signal down in Florida to allow them to talk on the phone. Three of us coming home early proved to be good, as we were able to get a good night sleep and then devote Saturday to cleaning the house and cleaning the church. By the time Dad and Seth came home on Saturday afternoon, we were ready for Sunday.

It was a good trip this year. It was nice to relax and to be able to spend time with the clan, as nowadays it seems difficult due to everyone's schedules and due to several of us growing up and being semi-independent. I took some pictures, but unfortunately my camera went kaput on Tuesday, so I only have pictures from before that point; Mandy also took some too, and we both have uploaded some on facebook for your viewing pleasure.

And so, now it is back to our normal schedules. Dad and Mandy are back to work, Seth is doing his part-time job and his on-line certification, Mom is back to teaching her students, and I am back to doing housework and looking into colleges. For myself, Nanowrimo is coming up in a little over a month, and I am getting ready for it; I've got a couple different story ideas, but I probably won't decide on a story until the last minute.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Beer and Driving

A few things I'd like to mention before our guests arrive (because of Labor Day, we're having some family and friends over for dinner).

One, I want to mention one of Dad's birthday presents for this year. A week or so ago, Ben and Mandy were thinking about what to get Dad when one of them (I believe it was Ben) got the idea of giving him beer. And not just a normal case; no, forty-five beers, in honor of how many years he's lived. So, last Monday, Mandy and Ben went shopping and bought (I should say that Ben bought them and that Mandy helped pay for it) forty-five bottles of beer. Some of the bottles were in cases, some in six packs, and a few single bottles. Dad was very surprised to see it, and so now his beer fridge is full. It was a very nice gift, and kudos to Ben for thinking it up.

Two, last weekend a certain someone drove roughly fifteen miles from a place near home and then back to the house. Yes, it was myself, with Dad directing me from the passenger's seat. I've been thinking about going back to college again, but the college I applied for a few weeks ago means that I would need to learn to drive. So, I have finally found motivation to push myself to drive. So, Dad and I have been trying to find time on Saturdays for him to take me out driving because Mom doesn't want to and because Seth and Mandy are too young to teach me. I started off rather nervous, but I loosened up and felt more comfortable. I even changed lanes a few times and interacted with some decent afternoon traffic. Granted, I wasn't perfect, but I felt very accomplished afterwards. Driving no longer seems so frightening, and I pray that I will continue to pursue it and overcome my fear of it.

I mentioned above that I'm thinking of returning to college. I applied for one a few weeks ago and am waiting to see if I got in for the spring semester. If I get in, then I will go in for a history major. The college's website has a list of internships, and the ones in museums were enough to make me excited as I looked at them. If I do get into this college and can afford to go, then it will require me to move in with Grandma Linda, as she lives much closer to the campus than I currently do. So, some pretty big things might be on the horizon for me later this year.

Well, gotta dash. Our company is beginning to arrive. My next post will probably be about our trip to Florida, which will happen next week.