Such good memories were made and lessons were learned on our 2011 beach vacation. Of course there are too many to include them all, but to name just a few...........
Heading out at 430am with four young children is the best idea - they sleep for half of the 9 hour trip.
Cooking in your condo is much better than going out all the time. Yes, I know it takes effort. I cooked some food ahead of time and took it with us. I also had a menu for all three meals each of the 14 days we were gone. We made several trips to the local grocery store. The trade off is that you don't have to spend them time getting the family of six ready to go out and risk poor service and bad food. We had great family meals around the table or on the patio that were not interrupted by waiters and trips to the restroom.
Ask the locals where to eat. We had super recommendations from the locals at Navarre....Shrimp Basket and Flounder's in Pensacola were our faves. Flounder's has great atmosphere and enormous amounts of good food!
Lino family walks on the beach are never dull. We usually don't go anywhere unnoticed. How can you when you have four young children? But our walks along the beach definitely turned a few heads. In the evenings, were were loaded down with buckets and nets to catch whatever was swimming by and all of the crabs racing around on the fine, white sand. There was often a spectacle when one of us spotted the smallest of crabs and then the boys went dashing to catch it. I know Samoosa and String Bean enjoyed the evening walks better than the laborious half mile walks to the pier. Those walks to the pier with this family of six took forever! You could see all the sympathetic moms sighing in exhaustion with me as I carried or urged the little girls to keep up with us. The promise of ice cream on the pier was the only motivation for Samoosa.
Vacation does not require doing 'stuff'. Over the course of two weeks, we managed to 'entertain' ourselves quite well. We made one outing to the Gulfarium in Ft. Walton where me met our friends from Arkansas who were also on vacation at the same time and then we went on a drive one afternoon where we found a British specialty store that made Nathan's day. Other than that, our family time was on the beach or in the pool. Each of the kids went on outings with Dad - to get a sno cone or watch the pier fishing. I went armed with library books and a DVD library with microwave popcorn for the rainy days.
4 little Linos and 4 little Piles at the Gulfarium
Reading on the beach is only done without children. I tried to read on the beach. It's much more fun to play one-on-one volleyball with the 7 year old boy than read about Hillary Clinton's time in the White House. I'd pick building sand castles with the two year old or floating in the waves with three little girls over any of the books on my night stand.
There are many more memories to be made on the beach.....I can't wait for the next family vacation!