Wednesday, April 19, 2023

We need a vacation do over!

The week of Easter, we went on vacation. We'd planned it carefully in order to avoid all the Spring breakers who usually flock to the coast. I'm a long range planner and had reserved our beach house almost a year ago, as I do every year. Since that time, I'd been praying for good weather and a safe, relaxing trip. 

The boo boo beach house

The day before we were to leave, I got a call from the rental company. The house we'd reserved was going to be having a pool installed. The rental company told us there would be many workmen coming and going. There would be lots of noise. They wanted to know if we would be okay with that or if we'd prefer to be moved to another beach house. I got off the phone and was a little miffed. We'd planned this trip for a long time and now, at the very last minute, we get word that things are going to be turned upside down. 

I talked with my hubby and we decided to move to another house. Several years ago, when we'd stayed on Mexico Beach, contractors had come to repair brick steps to our rental. We'd received no notification and it was a major inconvenience. We didn't want to go through that kind of scenario again. 

I reached out to the rental company and asked what our options were. I was told there were 2 other beach  front homes available for our week, all others were beach view. Since we always rent beach front, I asked for details on those 2 homes. The agent said she'd have to check with the owners and see if they'd be willing to honor the original price we'd paid to reserve our home. Prices had gone up significantly since we'd locked in our price and she wasn't sure they'd do it. 

After contacting the two owners, the agent said only one would agree to rent to us for the initial price. We didn't want to have to pay an increased rate, so we took the one available. 

It's hard to take a beach rental when you don't really know what you're getting. Of course, they always post photos on the online websites, but renters never know if those photos are recent or not. 

We looked at the online photos as well as the location of the "new" beach house. Everything looked great and we felt okay with the change, until the day we arrived. 

It was a long, rainy drive to the beach. The weather forecast for the week was gloomy and although we know Florida weather can rapidly change from hour to hour, we weren't too optimistic. 

One sunny day at the beach
We unloaded our car and started to take things in. It was evident this was a well used, well loved home in much need of updating. Doing our best not to complain or be too picky, we unpacked and settled in. That evening, as I got ready to make our dinner, I found only one eye on the stove worked, the seal on the refrigerator wouldn't hold, and all the pots, pans, and utensils were in a state of disrepair. To say I was upset would have been a huge understatement. 

Immediately, I contacted the rental company's after hours line. Thankfully, they sent out an electrician the next day but when he left, after we thought he'd repaired the stove, it was worse than before! 

We had to prop a chair in front of the fridge door to keep it closed and keep our food from ruining and we had to run out and buy cooking utensils so we'd have what we needed. It was a huge fiasco and if I'd been in a really b---- mood, I would have raised a huge stink and had them move us out. But we'd waited so long to be at the beach and I was willing to overlook the bad things and focus more on the good things.  

We did get to enjoy three sunny days while on vacation. All the others were rainy and we even had a tornado warning while there!The sunny days were perfect and we made the most of them while we had them. We spent time at the beach, visited our old stomping grounds - Cape San Blas and Port St. Joe. We went to Ochlockonee State Park and St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge where we enjoyed beautiful scenery and wildlife. 

We managed to plan and meet up with my Aunt Jane and cousin Nancy, who drove an hour and half to meet us halfway for lunch, so the entire trip wasn't a bust.

We were able to finally see the memorial bricks we'd ordered to honor my brother, Jimmy, and the one we'd done for our 30th anniversary. We had them installed at St. George Lighthouse and when we saw them in person, they brought tears to our eyes. My brother would have loved his "spot" on the lighthouse pathway. It took almost a year for them to be installed. I ordered the one for my brother shortly after he passed away, July 22, 2021. I wanted him to have a permanent place of memorial since he was cremated and his wife hadn't installed one anywhere. Now, every time we visit the island, we'll stop by and remember all the good things about his life and how much we loved him!

St. George Light house

2nd row -my brother's memorial brick


Lighthouses have always had a special place in my heart and on this trip, we were able to see four of my favs - St. George, Cape San Blas, Crooked River (I didn't take a pic on this trip), and St. Mark's. They're all so different. 

Although we feel like we need a vacation do over, we were thankful for the days of sunshine we enjoyed. We made a note to ourselves not to plan next year's visit in April.. We normally go in early May or in October. Those months are usually good and there's not a high chance of hurricanes. Sometimes the bugs can be bad though and that's something we just have to prepare for in advance. I'd rather deal with bugs than drama like messed up beach houses and construction. 

I guess it's like Forest Gump says, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." That goes for weather, beach houses, and so much more. 

At least we made a lot of good memories and that's what counts. Hopefully our fall vacation will be much more pleasant.

Cape San Blas Light house

The Bald Eagle was so majestic!

On our way down to the beach, we saw a beautiful bald eagle up close. I was so thankful I'd taken my 35mm and was able to get a great shot! While at St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge, we got to see so many beautiful shore birds, marsh birds, alligators, and other creatures. Of course, Cape San Blas light house is one of our very favorites. We've been visiting it for almost 30 years. It used to be located along the shore line but they moved it many years ago to a more inland spot due to erosion of the beach. 

St. Mark's light house
We consider every trip to the beach a gift and we always love finding the peace and solitude God offers us there. Usually we bring home more in the way of memories than tangible souvenirs and that's exactly the way I want it. Of course, I do love when we find lots of sea shells. I have quite a collection from past trips and we were especially blessed a few years back when we hit the beach shortly after a Nor'easter had blown through. We found the most shells we'd ever found on one trip that year. 

One of my favorite books is, "A Gift From the Sea," by Anne Morrow Lindberg. It's a profound book and one I enjoy reading over and over again. 

Shark's eye shell
One of my favorite quotes from the book is - “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” 

And if you wait long enough, the sea always rewards.

Gifts from the sea

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