Sunday, June 28, 2015

Florida. A Family Vacation.

Summer has officially began and with it a heat wave.  You will not hear me complain about this.  We spend all winter long patiently waiting for the sun to thaw us out.  Bitter and cold and laying in bed shivering waiting for your body temperature to warm you up.  I think of this as the temperatures surpass the nineties.  I stop myself as soon as I'm about to say, it's so hot out.  I make sure to throw out the good summer karma so we won't get a terrible winter because of our complaints.  To ward off any mocking "well, you didn't like the heat so how about a week or two of -20 degrees".  We embrace summer.  In fact this feels like a cool down after a week on the wonderfully hot and humid Florida beaches.  Oh, yes...the Jamison family vacation hit the beach this year.  Just the four of us.  For seven wonderfully, un-planned days in the sunshine state.  And might I say, it delivered.

Family vacations are something I hold onto tightly.  Right now, with the kids ages we are in the sweetest spot for family vacation.  No toddler meltdown tantrums and no teens stuck with their faces in a phone.  A time for us to all be together, away from all distraction.  A time to bond and reconnect.  A time to create memories that will forever be in our hearts.  I hold my own family vacations as a child as some of my greatest memories.  I want our girls to look back at their own childhood with similar fondness.  It doesn't matter where we go.  Whether it's showing them around downtown Portland, standing in endless lines at Disney World or spending all day on the beach, I hope the memories we are making will stick around.  All are good, but I'm not going to lie, beach vacations are above and beyond my favorite.  There's something about the simplicity of it.  No stress, no chaos.  The ocean was our playground, the beach our entertainment and the pool our sideshow.  This here is an opportunity for me to keep the memory alive so when the details fade I can read it to bring back the feelings.  

The travel day is always long and again I try hard to not complain.  We are so very fortunate to be able to tuck away money each year to put towards a family vacation.  I hate to throw any negativity at it right in the beginning because your sitting in an airport with grouchy travelers.  I try to keep in mind that we leave Montana and by the end of the day our toes will be dipping in the ocean.  All of the long day instantly fades away when this happens.  For all of us.  Even Ava who was sick the first couple of days perked up immediately upon running into to the ocean.

As for Layla, she choose to cartwheel her way through our vacation.  Most of our pictures are with her are mid-cartwheel.

The first night we called it early, eagerly anticipating what was to come.  A restless sleep settled over me with a combination of anxiety from being far from home and happiness at hearing the waves crash all night.  

Each day found a familiar routine.  I would wake early, along with Layla.  After settling her into some tv (our cable deprived kids were all about these morning cartoons!) I'd grab my coffee and head down to the beach for a walk and meditation.  There is nothing like a morning stroll on the beach.  It's much to early to be laying out on the beach or playing in the ocean so everyone there is either out for a jog or doing the same thing I am....soaking up the peace of the morning.  Breathing in the calm and filling yourself with happiness.  Many of the days Matt took advantage of this once I got back and I took our little fish to the pool.  These girls and water.  I often wonder if we never made them get out, would they ever get sick of it?

Each day we were in the pool at least twice and sometimes more.  We sought out the times when we had it all to ourselves.  First thing in the morning or last thing before bed under the stars.  I can't blame them, almost ever time they wanted to get in, I joined them.  Even if I didn't have intentions to I found myself drawn to the warm crystal blue water and ended up jumping in.

When not in the pool we set up camp on the beach.  The sand was soft, the water so warm and clear.  The hours slipping by as we body surfed, boogie boarded, searched for shells, built sand castles and took shelter from the sun under the umbrella for snacks.  
Taking breaks to run to the condo for lunch, snacks, afternoon Corona's and money for the over priced ice cream truck that came to the beach each day playing Christmas music.
We ventured out occasionally for dinner and couple times to explore around us.  Once to visit the tallest lighthouse in Florida, which Matt loved.  (I know it can't be written but please note the sarcasm in the last comment.)  The signs said to make sure you were in good physical health before attempting to climb the 203 steps to the top.  Please.  These girls can climb mountains...

I'm always eager to explore a new city.  This one was an interesting mixture of everything.  Huge beach mansions next to a boarded up, torn down buildings.  Restaurants where you would wait two hours for a table and then some where we were the only customers there.  People from all over making it feel like such a different world than we are used.  We found leaving our little beach condo didn't make much sense when it was all so perfect right there.  However, when we ventured to the Riverwalk we found yummy Italian restaurants, bright red crabs on the river shoreline and beautiful palm trees for miss Ava to hug on.  And for Layla to cartwheel around of course.

By the middle of the trip we found we didn't even like to leave for dinner.  Not when you could order pizza and have a picnic on the beach...
Or go to a local farmer's market and pick out the most beautiful produce and seafood and make the most delicious meal of the trip.  With the best view, I might add...

There really was no reason to leave. 

A few more vacation memories worth noting...

Flying kites on the beach-

Watching Matt learn to surf...

Lunch on the pier that we walked to on our last day...soaking the last bits up...

Our girls, happy for hours.  The laughter and giggles as the waves crashed over them.  The contagious excitement that comes from playing in the ocean.  If I could bottle up these feelings...

Morning sunrises.  Each day I woke up and watched, right from our bed, the bright pink sun rise up over the ocean.  Our final morning I woke earlier to sit on the beach and watch when I wasn't half asleep.  There really are no words to describe moments like these.

I felt such gratitude.  So lucky to be sitting there experiencing this while my family was safely sound asleep.  Grateful to be in this beautiful place and giving our kids these experiences.  Giving ourselves these experiences.  Knowing there was no one I would rather be sharing these moments with than the three people I was with.  Often when a vacation comes to an end I find myself so sad to be leaving.  Wanting it to continue....the carefree, laid back vacation vibe.  This time I felt sad to be leaving the ocean, but mostly I left feeling content and happy.  Knowing we had created memories to come back to when needed.  Happy to come back to our own lovely town in the middle of its best season.  No matter where we are, taking the time as a family together...getting away from real world life, even briefly is always available.  It may not be the same as a vacation and that's okay.  That's why we work hard to get to create opportunities to take family vacations.  However, until the next one we will soak up what we have right here in our own backyard.  It may not be warm ocean waves and sandy beaches, but it's pretty great all on its own.

Thank you Florida, for your wonderful sunshine and amazing beaches.  Thank you for the memories and not letting us get eaten by sharks.  Thank you warm ocean for embracing us in your waves...until next time.  There will always be a next time and one day I will not have to say goodbye.  

1 comment:

  1. Another great article, Angie. Loved the photos. Took me right back to Florida.