Monday, June 24, 2024

Our 2024 30A Summer Beach Trip - Days 6, 7, & 8

I’m recapping the last three days of our beach trip today!  The last day we were there was wild, to say the least.

Thursday, June 6

Thursday morning, was much of the same.  Brian picked up donuts one more time from The Donut Hole, I did a Bible study, and then we headed down to the beach around 10:15 our time.  It was sunny for most of the morning, but clouds rolled in and out for the rest of the afternoon.  They also changed the flag from yellow to a single red one and a purple one late in the morning which means that the rip current had picked up (red) and potentially dangerous marine life had been spotted (purple).  The purple flag usually means jellyfish have been spot from our previous experiences, but Friday we would find out that it meant something a little different this time around. 


Late in the morning, Jacob and I went for a beach walk, and then we all went up for lunch in the condo again.  After that, it was back down to the beach for a few more hours. 


Around 4 our time, the guys who put out the chairs came out to tell everyone that they needed to close the umbrellas because a storm was coming and there had been waterspouts spotted just down the coast. 

At that point, we were ready to go up anyway, so we grabbed everything and headed up.  I had hoped to see some waterspouts (we’ve seen them there before and they’re so cool to see!), but the storm avoided us entirely, and we never even got a drop of rain. 

We all got showered and ready for the evening, and then we ended up heading back to The Big Chill for the evening.  It’s one of our favorite places to go on 30A, so we usually end up there twice each trip. 

When we arrived, we saw that Luke Bryan’s Bronco was there yet again, but sadly, we still didn’t see him.  Boooo.

When we arrived, the kids wanted to look around the Build-a-Bear workshop, so we browsed for a bit, and then found a table.  I grabbed us some beers, and then I opted for barbecue for dinner while B and the kids opted for Duo’s again, just for something other than burgers. 

Thursday night was DJ night there, but the DJ wasn’t all that great – he was playing some really odd choices of music… nothing that I would ever listen to – so we didn’t hang around very long after dinner.

Olivia was clearly exhausted from all of the sun and lack of sleep all week, so she’d gotten pretty whiny, so we headed back to the condo, and I read for a bit in the room until sunset.

We headed down to the beach to watch the sun set, and boy, were we treated to a gorgeous one.  I didn’t brighten or edit these pictures in any way.  That is just God’s natural beauty on display right there!

After our walk, we all crashed.  We’d been having too many late nights, too much sun, and not enough sleep, so everyone needed a good night’s sleep.


Friday, June 7

Friday was our last day there, so we made the most of it.  We were up at 8 AM our time (7 AM beach time), we ate our leftover donuts for breakfast, I did a Bible study, and we were down on the beach by 10:15 AM our time.  The weather and water were positively GORGEOUS Friday, so we were grateful to have that going for us on our last day there.

We spent the whole morning playing in the water and reading, and Jacob and I got in another beach walk. 

We did our usual lunch in the condo, and then we settled back in on the beach for the rest of the afternoon.  Brian and Jacob played ball in the water for a long time and Olivia and Evelyn played in the water ALL.DAY.LONG.  Olivia would stay in the ocean forever if we’d let her.  And the first sandbar was so close to the shore Friday so they spent a lot of time there doing cartwheels and playing.  Olivia knew it was her last day with Evelyn, so they played and played and played in the water.  I even went out in the water for a bit to hang out with Erin, Evelyn’s mom, who loves being in the water and had been graciously staying right by the girls all afternoon.  (Brian and Jacob were also out there playing ball so, don’t worry, we weren’t entrusting our daughter’s care completely to others.  Haha.)

Around 4:30, we decided it was about time to start gathering our things and head up for the evening to get ready for dinner.  Just as we were about to start rounding up all of our stuff, security came flying down the beach in a truck whistling everyone out of the water.  We were so confused because we’d never seen anything like that before.  The flags were a single red and a purple which means you’re allowed to be in the water.  The only time you’re not allowed in the water is when there are two red flags, so it didn’t make any sense that they were making everyone come to shore. 

Everyone flocked to the police to ask what was going on, and all he said was, “Wildlife is making mischief.”  We were like, “Okaaaayyyy.”  What does that even mean?!

Well, it didn’t take long before word started making its way down the beach, and all of our questions were answered when some people came running up the beach saying that there had been some shark attacks, so they were shutting down the beaches. 

We didn’t think much of it because shark attacks don’t ever happen in that area, so we figured some little sharks had been spotted and that maybe somebody had gotten grazed or something. 

Well, sadly, that was not the case.  Not the case at all.  I’m sure by now most of you reading probably saw what happened since it made national news.  Friday, June 7, while we were there at the beach, in the water, three people were attacked by large sharks – a 45-year-old woman lost her lower left arm in one of the attacks, a 15-year-old girl lost her left hand and had to have her right leg amputated, and a third teenager was treated for flesh wounds.

And one of the attacks (the one on the 45-year-old woman) happened a mere mile down the beach from us… right in front of the place where we’d had dinner the night before.

The attacks on the teenagers happened a little further down the beach, but not by much… they happened in Seacrest which is just outside of Rosemary Beach (just a couple of miles down the beach from us) where we’d spent the evening taking our family pictures. 

In other words, waaaayyyy too close to home.  WAY.

Since that day, we’ve seen tons of articles and videos (thanks, Facebook algorithm) about how there were numerous (very) large sharks swimming up and down the 30A coastline that day (in super shallow water!!!!), and it’s terrifying to know that sharks were likely swimming close by at some point while we were in the ocean.  Literally makes me want to faint even thinking about it.

Yes, I know the ocean is where the sharks live, and yes, I know there’s always a risk, but as I said before, shark attacks like that just don’t ever happen there.  Ever.  And I had no clue they would swim so close to shore like that either!

All of the ladies who were attacked were in waist deep water just by the sandbar, which is where Olivia had been playing the entire day, and it is not lost on me that that could have been any one of us.  I have thanked God so many times since that day that it didn’t happen to us.

I read a full account of what happened that day on the beach to Lulu, the teenager who had the worst injuries, and it sounded like something straight from a horror movie.  I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be there that day.  Especially if it was my child.

Thankfully, all of the victims survived, and Lulu, the teenager who had the worst injuries, is stable now, but she has a very long road of recovery (and multiple surgeries) ahead of her.  Her mom has been posting updates on Facebook, and I’ve been following along with them ever since, and it’s just been heartbreaking to read.  I can’t imagine having to walk that road with my child.  Please keep their family (and the families of the others) in your prayers.

Side note, I am an excellent swimmer and I love a swimming pool, but I hate any natural body of water for this very reason – the creatures in them.  I don’t swim in lakes.  I don’t swim in rivers.  I don’t swim in ponds or any other bodies of water.  And I barely get in the ocean.  I am absolutely convinced I will get attacked by a shark if I go too far out.  Therefore, I only go out in the ocean up to my knees, and only in water that I can see through.  And the fact that those attacks happened on the day that I let my guard down and went in the water up to my hips just freaks me out. 

Olivia, on the other hand, is fearless, and she LOVES the ocean, so I have always worried constantly about her (and Brian or whoever else is out there with her), but after this, I’m going to be a complete basket case.  Nobody is going in the ocean ever again!  Haha.

Anyway, the police cleared the entire beach for about 30 miles, from Destin to Panama City, (30A where we stay and where the attacks happened are between those two cities), and they were closed for the next two days, I believe, so we were grateful that it was our last day.

After the shark drama died down, we packed up all of our stuff, and then we said our goodbyes to Evelyn and her family.  We all discussed timing of next year’s trip before we headed to our condos, and we both plan on being there at the same place during the same week next year, too, so Olivia and Evelyn should be able to see each other again!  In the meantime, they’ll continue to be pen pals and write letters.  :o)

Once we got back in the condo, we all got showered and ready for the evening, and I took some time to start packing since we were leaving the next morning.  We had stuff everywhere and the condo was a complete and utter disaster, so it was necessary… otherwise we would have had to wake at the crack of dawn to get everything packed.  

We also got an update on Maui from my MIL... she was doing great and she was looking forward to seeing us on Saturday!  Haha.


We met our friends, Stephanie and Bobbie for dinner at 7:15 our time.  They used to live here in Georgia, and Stephanie and Brian worked together for years, but they moved down to the beach about 10-15 years ago, so we always try to meet up with them while we’re there.

We decided to try a new-to-us place for dinner Friday night, and I was soooo happy we did, because it’s now one of my favorite places on 30A!  We’ve been going to 30A for years and years, and we drive by Old Florida Fish House daily, but we’d never been despite the fact that so many people have been telling us to go.

Well, it was most definitely worth the wait, y’all.  The ambiance is INCREDIBLE and the food was just as good.  The whole restaurant is outdoors, and the tables are spread throughout this lush garden of exotic flowers and plants, beautiful fountains with tile mosaics, and twinkle lights everywhere.  It’s just stunning.  And in addition to the backdrop being gorgeous, there was also a guy playing acoustic guitar.  Perfection.  I wanted so badly to walk around the place and take a video to share on Instagram, but I didn’t want to be that influencer disrupting everyone’s meals.  Haha.  Instead, I just settled for taking a few pictures that don’t do the place justice at all.

Stephanie and Bobbie met us there and we all started the evening with a round of cocktails – Rosemary Beach Lemonades for Stephanie and me, St. Petersburg Punch for B, and a beer for Bobbie – and we had a couple of appetizers, too – house made smoked tuna dip and garlic bread with tomato goat cheese dip.

For entrees, B and I both ordered the special – a grilled filet with bacon-wrapped, crab-stuffed shrimp, cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes, and asparagus – and all of it was so delicious.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, y’all know that I am not a fish or seafood person.  I don’t particularly like any of it, and I never order it or cook it. 

Well, the only way to get the filet was to get crab-stuffed shrimp that came along with it, and I have to say that I tried it, and I liked it!  Would I order it alone as my main course?  No.  Would I consider myself to be someone who enjoys seafood now?  Also no.  But I was proud of myself for trying something new.  As for the filet?  It was delicious.  GIVE ME A FILET ALL DAY EVERY DAY.  It’s one of my all-time favorite foods.

We had another round of drinks with dinner, and then afterwards, we sat around chatting for a while and letting our food settle because we were all stuffed

The kids were wanting to walk to the big dock that’s on the property there, so we walked there at dusk, and that gave us the most beautiful views of the restaurant.  It was all lit up since darkness was approaching and it was just the most magical end to a wonderful vacation… aside from the shark attacks, of course.

We finally made it back to the condo way too late, and then we polished off the M&M ice cream cookie sandwiches from the freezer before heading to bed.


Saturday, June 8

Saturday morning, we got showered and dressed, we packed up the condo, we said goodbye to the ocean (that was going to be closed all day due to the shark attacks), and we were out of there by 8:30 AM our time.

We had a smooth and quick ride home, and we were back in town just in time to swing through the Chick-Fil-A drive-through to grab lunch before making our way back home to do all the unpacking.

The rest of the day was spent unpacking and doing nine loads of laundry, among other things.  You can read about the rest of that day and the rest of that weekend here if you missed it! 

Happy Monday, y’all!

Friday, June 21, 2024

Our 2024 30A Summer Beach Trip - Days 4 & 5

I’m forgoing my typical Five on Friday post today to do another beach recap… otherwise I’ll never get caught up!

Tuesday, June 4

Tuesday morning, we were up around 8 our time (EST) again, and B and Olivia went down to check and make sure our beach chairs were in place.  Then, it was leftover donuts for breakfast yet again, followed by a Bible study for me.  What a view!

We got an update from my mother-in-law on Maui, and she was doing much better after having some tummy issues for a couple of days right after we left her.  She’s started having “stress colitis” when we leave her for long periods of time, or sometimes even when we leave her in the evening until dark, and she won’t eat or drink.  Her stomach also makes a gurgling noise when this happens, so we always know when she isn’t feeling well.  The vet said it’s totally normal and very common for this to happen when owners leave their dogs behind, especially when they are boarded.

We made it down to the beach around 10:15 our time, and it was yet another day of playing in the water and the sand and reading my book.  Jacob and Olivia played in the sand most of the morning, and they made this giant gator… appropriate since we were in Florida, but GO DAWGS.  Haha. 

We went up for lunch at the condo around 12:30 and then headed back down to the beach an hour or so later.  The water was beautiful!  We took a nice, long beach walk, and Olivia found a few creatures that she wanted me to take pictures of. 

We ended up staying down at the beach until 4:15 our time that day because it was just too nice to leave, and then after we were all showered and ready, we drove down the strip to Seacrest for dinner at LaCo (formerly known as La Cocina).  It’s my favorite Mexican food of all time, and I literally think about this meal throughout the year until we’re able to have again every June. 

It is perfection from start to finish – they have the very best margaritas of all-time because they’re made with real fresh-squeezed limes, they have the best white cheese dip I’ve ever had, and their chips are superior to all others.  I always get the taco salad with grass fed beef, and OH MY WORD, it is divine.  It’s a bed of lettuce with a blend of cheeses, pico de gallo, black beans, charred corn, radish, crema, and arbol ranch that’s AMAZING.  Seriously, the charred corn and the crema and arbol ranch make the meal.  I know I rave about it every year in my recaps, but it’s that good!  And you can choose from different meats, but the grass fed beef is *chef’s kiss*.

B and I always order a pitcher of margs there because it comes out cheaper than buying two margaritas each (and their margs are tiny so we would both get two), so we were completely and utterly stuffed by the time dinner was over. 

Seacrest is right next door to Rosemary Beach, so we walked down to Rosemary Beach after that.  It felt good to walk off all of that food a bit.  And the weather was really nice… not too hot!

The first stop in Rosemary Beach was at “our spot” to take family pictures.  There’s a little courtyard behind the post office that makes for the most picturesque spot, and there are always a few people around who are willing to take pictures of the whole family for us.  We always get the best pictures there, so we always make sure to coordinate our outfits on that night.  We used to take pictures on the beach, but that became a whole thing.  It was always too windy or too sunny or the kids didn’t want to get all sandy again and they would get whiny sometimes, so this is much easier, and honestly I like these better than our beach pictures.


After our pictures, we walked to Sugar Shak – another place we visit every single time – so the kids could pick out some candy.  They have tons of unique candy in there along with a bunch of throwbacks that you can’t find anywhere else anymore.  Check out the Cry Baby bubblegum!!!!  My friend and I used to ride down to the gas station at the end of our street with a friend in our neighborhood and buy these!  He was a year older than me, and therefore, he could drive before I could, so he’d drive us down there every now and then.  Haha.

After the kids picked out their treats –always gummies for both them with the exception of the year that Olivia got Beanboozled, haha – we walked around on the green for a little bit, and then we took a seat in the courtyard so they could eat them.  Brian and I were way too stuffed for dessert, so we skipped out on ice cream at Sugar Shak even though it sounded so good!

Once the kids had finished up with their treats, we walked back to Seacrest, did a little bit of browsing, and I got a frame for our travel wall + the warmest, snuggliest, cutest sweatshirt that I can’t wait to wear when it gets cold.

By the time we got back to the condo, it was getting late, so we watched an episode of Is It Cake? and then we all hit the hay.


Wednesday, June 5

Wednesday morning, we were up at the same time as every other day.  There were no more donuts, so we all had eggs and/or cereal… whatever we had on hand.  I did my Bible study and quiet time after that, and then we all showered and got ready for the day.  We typically skip one day on the beach so we can all take a break from the sun, and Wednesday was the perfect day to do that since the kids’ cheeks were both pink. 

Once we were all ready, we drove back into Panama City Beach to hit up Dave and Busters.  They opened at 10 AM, so we wanted to get there right when they opened to avoid the crowds later in the day.  Wednesdays are half price games all day, so you get double the play for your money.  I do not love an arcade, but I took one for the team anyway, even though it was tempting to stay at the condo and have some uninterrupted beach time.  ;o)  Brian had tried to get the kids to go to a water park instead of D&B this year, but neither of them were on board with that idea, and neither was I.  I don’t love a water park either.  Yeesh.

The kids played games for the next couple of hours, and they racked up a TON of tickets.  Olivia hit the main target on the milk jug ball toss a TON of times (it was seriously crazy how many times she did), and that gave them quite a bit of tickets.  Once they had picked out their prizes, we were done for the day.  Normally, I’m frazzled when I leave that place, but thankfully, it wasn’t as busy that day, so it wasn’t quite that bad.

After that was done, we decided to try a new place that we’d driven by earlier in the week – The Pancakery.  We all LOOOOVEEEE breakfast, brunch, breakfast for dinner… breakfast any time!  So, we decided to do that for lunch.

Brian opted for the bananas foster French toast, I had the bananas foster pancakes (I couldn’t go to a place called The Pancakery and not get pancakes!  Haha), Jacob opted for a plain pancake, and, of course, my girl got the M&M pancake with the works!  They were both really in to making the crazy faces, so it is purposeful that they both look so sad here.  I promise they were both really excited about those pancakes!  Hahahaha. 

We all also got scrambled eggs and bacon and/or sausage for some protein, and it was all really delicious.  My pancakes were soooo yummy and they tasted like Christmas, which was not what I expected.  They were even better than what I expected!

After we were done at The Pancakery, we drove back to 30A and made a stop at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Santa Rosa to grab a few things that we needed.  While we were in there, the kids were dancing around in front of all of the security cameras, and Jacob said, “Momma, when they go watch the footage, they’re gonna see two kids hitting the griddy!” 


These kids just get more and more fun the older they get.

When we were done at Walmart, we drove into Rosemary Beach again to walk around for a bit.  We usually go there in the evening once most of the shops are closed, and I wanted to browse for a bit since we had ample time and no plans. 

We went in one shop called Hissyfits Boutique, and they had the cuuuutest stuff, y’all.  I could have bought half of the store.  Olivia would have, too, as she asked to buy about a dozen things.  Haha.  We ended up staying in there for a while, and although I would have loved to walk away with several pieces of jewelry, a koozie, and some shoes, I just bought some greeting cards that were really cute.  They had a whole section of really unique ones that were really funny, and I love to keep them on hand, so I loaded up.

We also went into this really darling boutique called Disco, but we didn’t stay long because there was nothing in that store that was under $200.  Haha.  I saw these gold sandals and NEEEED them, but they were $199 – HARD PASS – so now I’m making it my life’s mission to find a dupe for, like, $20.  Haha.

We browsed The Hidden Lantern Book Store after that – it’s one of my faves! – and then we browsed a few more shops and headed back to the condo. 

We still had quite a bit of time before we needed to head out for dinner, so we spent a couple of hours in the condo.  The kids watched TV, Brian took a nap, and I read my book.  It was a relaxing afternoon.

Around 6:30 EST, we headed to dinner at The Big Chill (formerly known as The Hub).  It’s one of our favorite places in all of 30A because they have many different restaurants and shops surrounding a big green space, and they have movie nights, DJ nights, and live bands.

Luke Bryan has a bar there called Shore Thing Cigars, and every single time we go, Olivia prays that he will be there and that we’ll get to see him.  Well, my friends, after years and many, many trips there, we finally stumbled upon what we’re 99.9999% sure is his vehicle. 

Luke collects classic Broncos (he even has a song about them), and when we pulled in the parking lot, what did we see in the “Owner Parking” spot in front of his bar?  A souped up, baby blue, custom painted classic convertible Bronco with fancy rims and MASSIVE speakers in the back.  The license plate was from Tennessee (where Luke owns a farm/house), so if that didn’t scream Luke Bryan then I don’t know what does!

Olivia was beside herself with excitement, and she couldn’t believe the day had finally come.  They always have the door propped open to the place when we walk by, but this time, the door was closed.  Mmmmhmmmm.  Probably because he was in there. 

Unfortunately, since it was a cigar bar, the kids were not allowed in, and Brian nor I wanted to walk in there alone, so we proceeded to walk and find a table in The Big Chill, and Olivia practically banged her head on the table for the next 20 minutes because she wanted to see Luke so bad.  Haha.  At one point she said, “This is some serious business!  There is a celebrity 300 feet away!”  Lol. 

Brian walked to grab us some beers, and when he got back, I told Olivia we could pretend to go get something from our car since we’d parked right by Luke in hopes that maybe he’d be out there.  Spoiler alert, he wasn't.

After that, we went back into The Big Chill, and Brian picked up burgers and fries from Duo’s for us, and then we watched The Lion King (the OG!) on the big screen since it was family movie night.  But first, one more trip around Luke's bar to see if we could spot him.  Cringe.  Haha.  While we were there, we stalled for a few minutes and even took some pictures in our usual spot, but… no luck.  We never saw Luke.

We ended the evening with ice cream – I can’t resist the Pirate’s Bounty that they have there at Mr. Freeze! – and it was the best evening.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Olivia could have seen Luke.  Ok, ok, and me too.  I’m not gonna lie, I was dying to see him, too.  I love him!

By the time we got to our car it was late, and Luke’s Bronco was still there, so what did we do?  We sat in our car for a good 30 minutes and staked out the joint per Olivia’s instructions.  Hahahaha.  I hoped so badly that he’d come out, but he never did, and we finally left around 9:30 our time, much to Olivia’s dismay.

When we got back to the condo, we watched some of America’s Got Talent, and then we all went to bed. 

And those were two more days of our trip! 

This sure would have been a much more interesting recap if I’d been able to tell you that we finally got to meet Luke!

Happy Friday, y’all!