Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Florida 2011

We had another fun vacation to Florida this past fall! We planned a fun stop along the way this time...in Mobile, Alabama. We always drive by a huge battleship as we zoom on by and we decided this year that we'd better check it out.

It was so great! When we first got there we let the kids out of the car to run around. There is a wonderful park area, with a pier, a rocky shoreline, and lots of tanks, helicopters, and airplanes that you can look at up close.

We would have enjoyed the stop if that had been all that we got to see, but there was SO much more!We bought tickets to board the USS Alabama and headed out. None of us had ever been on a battleship before. It was WAY bigger than we could have imagined. It's amazing that it can float! We followed the self-guided tours around and saw most of the boat...we actually got lost more than once.

It was a real treat and an eye-opener for all of us. We so appreciate the US armed forces and all who serve our country.

After touring the battleship we walked over to another part of the park where they have a submarine, the USS Drum. The kids really enjoyed walking through that...I think for two reasons it was their favorite part. (1) It's so compact and they make use of every inch of space, and (2) We met the man who is in charge of restoring the sub, a retired vet who had lots of fascinating things to share with us. Sam was anxious to get back on the road by this point, but we just couldn't tear ourselves away from this kind man and his vast knowledge. SO FUN!
After the battleship park, we headed on down the road...at that point we are pretty close to our destination, so the last part of the journey went pretty quickly. We finally made it to the house we rent (or as the kids call it, "our Florida house"), dropped off our things and the kids and I, along with Kelly, Jordan and Matthew, grabbed some buckets and headed down to the beach.
We slipped our toes into the warm water, dug in the sand a little, got wetter than we planned on, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. What a perfect start to a vacation!

We did many of the 'usual' things that we do in Florida, since this is an annual trip for us. This year we decided to take the kids to see Dolphin Tale, as it had recently opened in the theaters. What a perfect movie to see at the beach, huh? :)
We spent some fun times shopping and even found matching sunglasses for all of the adults...
We spent many mornings and/or afternoons at this fun park that is just across the street from our house...and we even got a unique group picture!
Family picture time! We tried to recapture the colors from that first incredible sunset but couldn't quite get them.
The beauty of this vacation is that we all get time together, but as the kids get busy playing, Sam and I get time to talk and reconnect too. Such a refreshing time!
Of course there was lots of swimming...once they finally fixed the pool. The first few days we were there it was WAY too cold to swim, and the last day we were there it was actually too hot! There were a few days in the middle there that were absolutely perfect.
Vacations with family are the best!!!
I had high hopes for this next picture...it didn't turn out so great, but I just love all these little faces! :)
Last year Henry studied the Mississippi and was fascinated by it. He loved the idea of this HUGE river that flows so very far and was so very useful to the early American settlers. When I reminded him that we drive over the Mississippi every year on the way to Florida, he could not wait! Since we didn't cross it at a good time on the way there, we decided we would stop on the way back.

As we crossed over the river (on a bridge, high, high, high above the river) Sam pointed it out to Henry and told him to wave. Henry was devastated. He had thought we would stop and take pictures, and Sam had thought we would just slow down and look...different plans. So we drove on a few miles, and Sam looked for a place to turn around so we could go back across the river where the visitor center is and get out of the car. We enjoyed looking out over the river and walking around. For some reason there was an old cannon displayed on a hill overlooking the river. Sam thought it would be a good place for us to break out our inaugural 'family planking' and join the strange phenomenon. ;)
We are so grateful that we are able to take a yearly vacation. We love Florida: the weather, the beaches, the friendly folks and abundant shopping. But what we love most is a chance to spend time with family and enjoy time away together! Thank you Lord for the blessing of family vacations with extended family! :)

1 comment:

Heidi Jo said...

the pictures of the kids/family by the sunset ocean....GORGEOUS!

family vacations w/ extended family are indeed a blessing, and a highlight in our lives as well. although we've never gone somewhere very far or grand, just the few hour get aways w/ cousins and grandparents, aunts & uncles...it is truly the GOOD stuff of life!