When we told the kids we were going to beach for spring break, they were really excited. The beach has been our go-to family vacation, but it's been a couple of years since we've gone. Jacob tried to remind Caroline how awesome the beach is: "And remember? We dress in white at night and go hunting for crabs on the beach!!"
Um, that dressing in white and crab hunting thing? That would be your mother manipulating you into being photographed on the beach during the Golden Hour. I decided that I'd give it a rest this time and let them wear whatever the heck they wanted and not have to deal with a camera in their face the entire time. It was actually quite liberating! I did snap some pix on my iPhone and broke out the big camera once, so here goes . . .
We have officially left behind the days of requiring an hour getting-ready time for every 10 minutes of actual beach time. And it is really really awesome. Not that the old days weren't awesome too. But after close to 10 years of raising babies and toddlers, we were very ready for this turn of events and were thrilled to meet our newer, easier beach-ready kids on this trip.
On a particularly windy day we decided to take a break from the beach to go play some miniature golf.
I find that my children's miniature golf personalities closely match their real life personalities (Jacob, after shooting a 7 on a hole: "Just put me down for a million, okay? That's pretty close." Elizabeth, after shooting a 42 on a hole: "Woo hoo!! Woo hoo!!")
Caroline has a unique swing that involves hitting the ball with the tip of her putter rather than the large flat side.
Not knowing or caring about the rules or the objective of the game definitely enhanced her enjoyment of it, I think.
Jacob taking a shot that he was almost certainly unhappy with:
But any lingering exasperation over the golf game disappeared once we got onto the bumper boats, which were, there is just no other way to put this, freaking cold. Part of the deal with the bumper boats is that you squirt other boaters with built-in water guns as you move to bump into them, which makes this an excellent July activity. Strangely, everyone but me seemed oblivious to this.
The girls warmed up on the kiddie ferris wheel:
We had some great dinners out while we were there (the most important part of a vacation). We usually try to hit this place even when we don't stay anywhere near Destin, so we took full advantage of staying so close to it this time:
The mandatory grouper sandwich:
But the most memorable meal had to be at Fudpucker's. Caroline had a hard time pronouncing "Fudpuckers" and kept leaving out the "dp" in the middle of the word -- that was awkward. Fudpuckers is really more of a total body experience than a restaurant. As you approach the building, you see a colorful party van sticking out of the wall. This place not only allows, but actively encourages, graffiti. There's a dance stage in the middle of the restaurant where 22 year old girls threaten to break into the Macarena at any moment, and a playground next to the dance floor. The restaurant walls are covered with TV screens playing the oddest assortment of music videos ever (mostly "young Nashville" - Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, but every fourth video was vintage Whitney Houston, and then just when you thought you'd figured out the pattern - Brad, Taylor, Carrie, Whitney, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Taylor, Whitney -- they'd swoop in and confuse you with Cee Lo). And then there are the baby gators they raise in the basement (which you could feed with fishing poles, or pose with for a photograph -- for a small fee, of course). As Elizabeth put it, "this is our kind of place." Oh yeah.
While we were there we had a plate full of fried alligator tail (tastes like chicken):
To the surprise of no one, Caroline passed on the baby alligator holding, but the big kids thought it was fun.
I said to the gator handler: "he's a trooper, isn't he?" and the guy said "oh, they get real agitated after a while. We've got three of them that we swap out when one of them has reached his limit." And it was then that I sensed that PETA would not approve of Gator Beach. Or maybe it was the tape on the mouth part. We tried to make amends (for eating and then agitating them) by feeding them:
That was one fun vacation.