Monday, June 22, 2020

2020 30A Beach Trip – Days 1, 2, & 3

We ended up having a wonderful beach trip despite the fact that we were traveling in a pandemic and despite the fact that a tropical storm came barreling in just as we arrived.  I have tons to recap, so it will obviously have to be split into several smaller posts, and today I’m recapping days 1-3.

Saturday, June 6 (Day 85 of Quarantine)

Saturday was our day to leave for our trip, but we woke up with some decisions to make… there was a tropical storm heading toward the gulf that was due to hit land late Sunday night after our arrival, so we weren’t sure whether to wait another day or two for it to hit and then head to Florida, or to just go ahead and go and be there during the storm.  Our condo was directly on the beach, and I told B that if there was any chance that it could turn into a hurricane I had no desire to be there… having a literal front row seat to a category 1 didn’t sound remotely appealing.  Fortunately, the forecast showed that it was pretty much guaranteed to remain a tropical storm, and the forecasters were also fairly certain that our area wasn’t even going to take a direct hit.  Therefore, we just decided to go ahead and go. 

Due to the new Covid-19 house cleaning rules in Florida, check-in for condos and hotels had to be extended to 5 PM CST, which is 6 PM EST (our time), so we were in no hurry to get out the door Saturday morning.  We slept in and had homemade waffles for breakfast.  We initially intended to watch the CNN/Sesame Street Standing Up to Racism Town Hall live with the kids that morning, but I knew that we’d be trying to get packed and out the door right afterward, and I didn’t want to have to rush through it and then have the kids’ memories of it be buried under all of the memories from our beach trip.  It’s so important for that information to stick with them, so we decided to record it to watch when we got back to ensure that we had plenty of time to discuss and answer all of the kids’ questions.

The rest of the time at home was spent packing and mowing, eating a quick lunch, squeezing in a quick yoga workout, and getting ready.  Once we were all ready, we loaded the car, said goodbye to Maui, and headed out.  On the way out of town, we stopped by my parents’ house to say hello to my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew who were visiting for the first time in months.  They live in Huntsville and haven’t been able to travel due to Covid, but their stay-at-home order was lifted just in time for them to come home and visit for my nephew’s fourth birthday.

My niece and nephew have been going to daycare these last few months since my bro and SIL both work full time (right now from home, though), so we all stayed in the back yard at my parents’ house and kept our distance from them.  I didn’t want to risk picking up any daycare germs from them and taking them on our beach trip.  That would have been just our luck!  Haha.

We visited with them for a few minutes and then headed straight out of town from there.  The drive down wasn’t too bad weather-wise even though we had braced ourselves for lots of rain due to the impending storm.  It did rain intermittently, but it was always light, thank goodness, so we ended up making good time and getting there safely.  We were able to drive straight through, not having to stop for gas or potty breaks (praise be!) and we arrived just in time to check in to our condo… it was ready for us as soon as we arrived!

We were very pleased with the condo… it was even more adorable in person, and we were surprised and excited to find that the bathroom was actually a Jack-and-Jill bath with two separate toilets and counter spaces with the shower in the middle.  The website only showed one toilet and a teeny counter, so it was nice that it ended up being so much larger than we’d initially thought.  As a matter of fact, one of the bathrooms even had built-in bookshelves that housed a little library.  I mean, it was the absolute cutest thing I’ve ever seen in a bathroom! 

In addition to the fabulous bathroom, the whole condo was completely updated with shiplap ceilings and special woodwork in the hallway, recess lighting, a beautiful subway tile backsplash in the kitchen, and bunk beds in the hallway with the cutest bedding.  Also, check out that sliding barn door in the bedroom!  So nice!

Once we settled in, we checked out our view, and noticed immediately that there was hardly any beach… the storm surge was so high from the tropical storm that the waves were lapping up just a few feet away from the dunes.  It was crazy and I’ve never seen anything like it.  I was very thankful that evening that we were on the second floor and not on the ground floor!

We were all starving by the time we had settled in, because it was already after 8 PM our time.  It was raining and yucky out from the impending storm, and since we were in a pandemic we didn’t want to eat indoors at a restaurant, so we opted for takeout in the condo instead… a first!  I can’t recall ever eating a dinner in our condo on a beach trip ever!  We really wanted pizza, but after calling several different places and finding that every single one of them had a 2+ hour wait, we knew it was time for plan B.  We’d seen a teeny hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant on the way in and it was less than a mile away, so we ordered from there instead.  They don’t offer alcohol there, so B swung by the gas station on the way back and grabbed a giant can of Lime-a-ritas for us instead.  I’d never had one and I was NOT a fan, but you know, desperate times and all that… haha.

By the time we were done eating dinner it was really late and everyone was tired so we decided to call it a day.  We had brought the kids’ sleeping bags for them to use on a pallet on the floor or on the pull-out couch bed, but once they saw the bunk beds it was all over.  All they wanted was to sleep on those dang bunk beds.  I’ve never been a fan of bunk beds at all – they freak me out – and I wasn’t thrilled at all with the idea of them sleeping there, but they begged and begged, so I finally gave in.  They were both so excited but Olivia was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t let her sleep on the top.  She’s the clumsiest little gal that I know so I wasn’t about to allow that.  EEK!  They ended up doing totally fine with the bunks for the entire trip, so all was well, but I’m not going to lie, I had some anxiety over it each night while I was trying to fall asleep.  I’m trying so hard not to project my anxiety onto the kids and hold them back from doing things that are acceptable for them to do, though, so I knew I had to let it go.

Sunday, June 7 (Day 86 of Quarantine)

Sunday morning, we were in no hurry to get to the beach because it was still looking like the bottom was going to fall out even though it wasn’t raining.  The storm surge was still very high and the ocean was as rough as I’ve ever seen it on the gulf.  We all got dressed and made the drive to The Donut Hole in Inlet Beach to pick up some donuts to bring back to the condo.  There’s always a pretty long line there, but they had tape marks on the ground outside the restaurant, so everyone knew where to stand to keep a safe distance.  When it was our turn to go in, instead of just letting us order at the counter, they asked us to take a picture of the donuts and then be seated at a table to order our to-go donuts from there.  I thought that was a little weird since we were just wanting to get in and out, but it ended up working out and we were only in there for a few minutes.

By the time we left, it was sprinkling outside, so we made our way back to the condo to eat breakfast there.  Afterward, the rain at stopped again so we decided to put on our swimsuits and head down to the beach.  The storm surge was still really high so there was no reason to bring any of our beach equipment, but we did bring a couple of chairs just in case anybody wanted to sit.  Well, unfortunately, the wind was blowing so hard that the sand was constantly stinging our legs (and eyes when we sat down in the chairs since they were so low to the ground) and almost blowing the kids over – haha – so we didn’t stay on the sand long.

Our condo was near a big lake, and there was a big channel of sand right nearby where the lake can drain into the ocean if there’s too much rain.  That day, since the storm surge was so high, the ocean water had formed a giant pool in that channel that was only a couple of inches deep, so we thought it would be a great place to let the kids play since they couldn’t get in the ocean or play in the sand.  Most everybody else on the beach in that area were hanging out there, too, but it was such a huge space that we were able to keep plenty of distance from everyone else. 

We all splashed around and played for a bit, but then a massive wave crashed ashore and pushed water really hard through the channel, sweeping Jacob and Olivia away from us in the water.  B was able to grab Jacob quickly, but Olivia was being pushed away from me at the same speed that I was running to catch up with her, so even though I was running as fast as I could through the water, she remained the same distance away from me.  That only lasted about 3-4 seconds before I was finally able to grab her arm, but it felt much longer. 

It really wasn’t a big deal… the water pushed the kids away from the ocean and towards the shore so they couldn’t have gotten carried out in the ocean, and the water we were in was really shallow so we didn’t have to worry about drowning, but it still caught me off guard.  Not being able to catch up with Olivia while running toward her was just the weirdest feeling… it felt like one of those bad dreams where you’re running as hard as you can but you’re not getting anywhere, and that’s why it freaked me out a little.  But don’t worry, mom, the kids were never in any danger.  I know that’s what you’re thinking as you’re reading this.  Haha.

Both of the kids recovered quickly, but we all decided to head back to the condo since it was just so rough and windy outside.  That inlet area of the beach ended up being bone dry the entire rest of our trip, so it was only just that one day that it was wet, and only because of the storm surge. 

When we got back in the condo, everybody got ready, and then we headed out to grab groceries and other necessities for our trip.  I realized I had forgotten to pack my Apple Watch charger (rookie mistake) so we stopped by Target in Panama City first to grab one of those.  B and the kids stayed in the car and I was able to avoid all people in the store, miraculously.  There was hardly anyone in there.

We headed to Publix next, and all four of us went in with our masks on.  That was the first time we have all worn our masks together as a family of four, and it was the first time the kids have been inside a public place since March.  Publix was a zoo, so we flew through there as fast as we could and then headed back to the condo. 

The sun had come out by the time we got back, so we made a quick lunch in the condo and then got back into our swimsuits and headed back to the beach.  It was still super windy and unpleasant, though, so we didn’t stay long before heading back in to shower off.

B and the kids played video games while I read on the balcony, but my reading time was cut short when it started pouring rain and blowing in on me.  By that time, dinnertime was approaching so we placed an order for pizza from Angelina’s (new-to-us and SOOOO yummy).  We had wised up and placed the order early so we were able to beat the 2+ hour wait times.  B ran out and picked it up, and then we enjoyed the pizza and some beers in the condo.  Another dinner in the condo on vacay… unheard of.  Haha.

By the time we had finished dinner, the weather had cleared up and the wind had died down, so when the kids started begging to go to Rosemary Beach to have Sugar Shack for dessert, there was no reason to say no! 

We made the short drive down the strip to Rosemary Beach and we spent the rest of the evening touring around there.  Sugar Shack is always one of our favorite places to get dessert… B and I always opt for ice cream while the kids prefer to pick out candy since they have such a large selection of really unique stuff.  Fortunately, we were out early enough to beat the crowd... it’s a tiny place and in the evening it gets packed, so we were prepared to turn around and leave if need be.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to!

After dessert, we headed back to the condo and settled in for a movie night… another first on a beach trip!  The kids had never seen The Parent Trap (the newer version with Lindsay Lohan), so we introduced them to that.  They both loved it and I loved seeing it again after all these years.

Monday, June 8 (Day 87 of Quarantine)

We went to bed Sunday evening planning to spend the whole day in the condo on Monday because the forecast was nothing but rain all day.  Much to our surprise, we woke up to sunny skies and hardly any chance of rain all day long!  Woo hoo!  We had leftover donuts from The Donut Hole and then we got into our swimsuits and packed up all of our stuff for the beach… our first day being able to set up chairs and our wagon!  We left the umbrella in the condo, though… it was still way too windy for that.

We spent the morning on the beach, reading and playing in the sand.  It was a double red flag day (which means that you aren’t allowed in the water at all), but we did let the kids dip their toes in the water every now and then with adult supervision, of course.  We had a quick lunch in the condo and then made our way back down to the beach where we spent the rest of the afternoon.  There were a lot of people out in the afternoon, but the majority set up their spots on that channel that goes between the ocean and the lake.  Therefore, we were able to keep our distance from people.

At one point, a sheriff drove through on the beach with a loudspeaker yelling for everyone to get out of the water – never seen that before – and since we weren’t able to play in the water much, we spent the last hour walking up the coast to see all the sights.

We went back to the condo around 3 to get ready, and then we headed into Panama City to spend the rest of the evening.  Pineapple Willy’s is a staple in the gulf, and I’ve been going there since I was young.  We’ve taken the kids every single year of their lives (with the exception of one year when we went to a different beach) so it’s one of our traditions.  They have a HUGE outdoor pier, so we thought that would be the perfect place to go for our first time eating at a restaurant since March 13.  Craziness.

We arrived at 4PM CST to beat the crowds and we were able to be seated almost immediately on the pier.  All of the tables were more than six feet apart so I felt really good about our choice to dine out.  And I’m not gonna lie, we all missed dining out SO MUCH.  Our family loves going out to eat so it felt phenomenal to be back!!  I thought I was going to be really nervous about it, but I felt totally comfortable the whole time. 

B and I both ordered hurricanes (how appropriate) and the kids got their drinks in the Pineapple Willy’s souvenir cups, and we spent the next hour enjoying doing something totally normal for the first time in ages.  The pier is covered and there was a nice breeze, so it wasn’t even hot out there… it was perfect!  And yes, Olivia wore her pineapple dress to Pineapple Willy's again this year... love my festive girl so much!

After dinner, we drove across the bridge to the other part of Panama City because I wanted to stop by their Hobby Lobby to see if they had a wall hanging that has been out of stock at our Hobby Lobby back home.  I didn’t have any luck there, and it’s still sold out online as I type this.  Boooo.

We ended the evening with miniature golf and everything went well there, too.  The place where we played was sanitizing all clubs and balls and they also had little sponges with sanitizer in each of the holes so you didn’t have to worry about your ball picking up germs inside the holes.  The course wasn’t busy at all when we arrived, and we were able to keep our distance from everyone there almost the whole time, too. 

We always made sure we stayed super far apart from the people in front of us, and nobody was close behind us for most of the time that we were there.  Unfortunately, towards the end, the group of young guys that were behind us caught up to us, and they had no sense of social distancing whatsoever, so I was thankful we only had to play a couple more holes so we could hightail it outta there!  Brian ended up winning the game, Jacob came in second, I was third, and Olivia came in fourth.  Jacob was the only one of us to get a hole-in-one, and he played a really great game.  B and I are thinking of getting him into golf.  We think he would really enjoy it and we think he would be really good at it, too.

We made the drive back to the condo after mini golf, and by the time we arrived, the sun had already set, and dusk was upon us.  We all had ice creams from our freezer for dessert and then we all settled in for an early bedtime.  It was an exhausting, but wonderful, third day. 

I still have five days left to recap, and the days got better and better as our time there progressed, so stay tuned for more soon!

Happy Monday, y’all!

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  1. I loved your photos! Your two are SOOO cute!I am going to show them to Caspar as he really wants to go to the States now and Rosemary beach sounds great - are there many sports activities there, or hotels with tennis etc? I think in food terms alone he'd be sold ;) I loved your husband's Mandolorian tee - we just watched that and loved it, it was better than the recent films. BTW - do you know when is the best time of year to visit Rosemary Beach? Sorry I am asking so many questions, we really want to find somewhere in the US to go that Americans recommend rather than being the usual places all the Brits go too :) Joanne.

    1. Rosemary Beach is beautiful and I do think y'all would love it! It's a quintessential little beach town and there are many things to do there, but I'm not sure about sports. I'm sure there are probably some places to play tennis but we've never looked into it. But yes, there are lots of great places to eat, so y'all would love the restaurant options, I'm sure! And the best time to go really depends on what your preference is. Since it's in Florida it doesn't typically get super cold, but it does get chilly enough some of the time where you probably wouldn't want to swim. April - September is busy season and that's when it's very touristy, but it's also HOT. That's actually our favorite time to go because all of the restaurants and shops are guaranteed to be open. Off season is October - March and there aren't nearly as many people there during that time. Because of that, I think some of the places close or have amended hours and you may not be able to do as much then. But the weather is a little cooler, which is nice sometimes, too, so again, it really depends on your preference. We always go in June because it's warm, but not sweltering hot, and everything is open. We like seeing all of the people around (although not this year because of Covid - LOL). If you have more questions just email me directly and I'm happy to answer anything!

  2. It sounds like you had a lot of fun those first few days (well except the part with Olivia in the ocean, that would scared me too!). That condo was super cute!

  3. Once it feels safe to travel again, I'd really like to head to 30A! The condo looked adorable and I'm so happy that the rain didn't end up having any impact on your vacay! xo, Biana BlovedBoston

  4. The condo looks so nice and that's great about the bathroom. Even with the weather not being perfect the first few days you all were still about to have some fun. Yay for the sun coming out!

  5. Looks like fun! We're going to Galveston and hope to hit places before they are crowded with people who don't know how to social distance - ugh!

  6. Super cute condo. Where specifically, do you stay?

  7. Obsessed with how adorable your condo was! I may need to find out more info on it for a trip later this year. SO happy you guys were able to go, and the weather was nothing like what they originally predicted. Family time at the beach is always good for the soul <3

    Green Fashionista

  8. Sounds like you had a lot of fun! We almost ALWAYS eat dinner in our condo (or house) that we rent and it's one of the main reasons why we switched from standard hotel rooms. I like having the option to cook; even on vacation.

    1. I wish I liked to cook... it sure would save us a lot of money on vacation! Haha. When I'm on vacation that's one of the things that I look forward to the most... trying all of the local fare and not having to cook!

  9. So glad you got to enjoy some sun and sand (and maybe a little rain, ha!). But good for you guys for going and enjoying yourselves! Your condo was so cute!

  10. You guys had so much fun! We did some COVID-19 Season traveling as well. Extra challenges, but worth it.

    1. It was definitely a challenge and it was also a little nerve-racking, but my goodness it was worth it!

  11. The condo is so cute! My sister is in PCB right now!

  12. Sounds like the first few days were pretty good, even with the weather! Your condo was so darn cute - so very beachy!

  13. what a great time. My girls watched Parent Trap (the newer one) recently as well. so cute. I can't believe how windy and crazy stormy it got there. Luckily you were able to get the kids safely. I love the pictures of the beach there. It is sooo beautiful! I can't wait to read more of your trip!

  14. I love 30A! It's my favorite place to vacay! All the little towns are just so quaint. It looks like ya'll had a great vacation. The Donut Hole is definitely an essential! :)

    1. They really are... it's my favorite place! And yes, The Donut Hole is so so yummy!


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