Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Navarre Beach

After a busy spring and a whirlwind of a summer (seriously, how is it already August?!), we were happy to hit the pause button and spend a week relaxing on the sandy shores of Navarre Beach. This was our first trip to the beach since we got married in Jamaica back in 2012, so it was much deserved and long overdue. It was also our first vacation with two kids and - let me just say - a total game changer. When we booked our trip earlier this spring, we thought that driving would be the best choice. After flying with a toddler during the first trimester of my pregnancy with Logan, I thought nothing could be worse than two toddlers on an airplane. It turns out, I was wrong.

We headed south Friday evening around 9:00 PM with the kids fed, bathed, and snuggled into their car seats with their coziest blankets and stuffed animals. Though neither one fell asleep until we were out of the state, it was a peaceful start followed by an entire night of blissful silence as both children slept soundly. The sun came up just before we got to Birmingham, AL, so we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel so we could eat, change clothes, and stretch our legs (which mostly consisted of the kids playing with toys in the store area). We had a solid 6 hours ahead of us, but the kids watched movies, took naps, and were overall well behaved. As with any road trip, the last hour was the most grueling. We were all ready to get out of the car and longing for that first glimpse of the ocean. We got to Navarre shortly after noon, hit up a food truck for some lunch, and made a bee line for our townhouse as soon as it was ready. It was a rat race to unload the truck and get everyone down for a nap as soon as possible. Neither Jake nor I had slept much since Thursday night, and we were running on fumes. A few hours later, we woke up to find that the rest of our family had arrived, unpacked, and were already enjoying the amenities. We had just gotten the kids into the pool when my poor grandma took a hard fall down the steps on the dock. Thankfully, no serious damage was done and she was still able to have a decent time (minus staying in a house with our crazy children).

We stayed at the Buena Vida townhomes on the sound side of Navarre, FL. It was a quiet, well-kept community consisting of both tourists and residents. The property had a pool and private access to the sound. We stayed in a townhouse with my parents and grandmother, and my sister and her family stayed in a separate unit within the same complex. It was great having everyone together for meals and play time, but it was so nice to be able to separate the kids at night time so that everyone could relax and get some rest. The entire property was beautiful, and we had the best views from our upper deck. The residents were incredibly friendly and helpful. I highly recommend this property to anyone planning to visit the area!

We woke up early the first morning, anxious to get to the beach. I couldn't wait to see the kids' faces as they experienced the sand between their toes and the waves crashing against their feet. The waves were the biggest that I had ever seen which terrified Taylor completely, but as long as Jake or I were right by her side (and as long as she didn't get any water on her face) she had a ball. Logan was completely fearless, as expected, and would run toward the water squealing with delight. We spent hours building sandcastles, jumping over waves, and eating every snack food imaginable. As the day wore on, the little girls crashed one by one and ended up napping together in the tent. It was one of the quietest and most peaceful moments of the entire trip!

The next day nearly everyone was sunburnt, so we decided to stay at the complex and play at the pool and sound. One of our neighbors offered to let us use their water toys during our stay, and the kids had a blast paddle boarding, kayaking, and running around on the big blue mat. The little ones enjoyed the sound side more since the waves weren't as big and we had the sand to ourselves. Logan's favorite part activity was watching the jet skis go by, and he insisted on waving and say "hi" every time one came into view.

 The rest of our trip was a combination of sun, sand, and naps. We made a couple of trips into Pensacola but quickly learned that driving was the last thing we wanted to do, so we mostly just hung around Navarre. With no agenda and two little kids that tire quickly, we were perfectly content spending our mornings at the sound, napping in the afternoon, and then hitting up the pool before dinner.

We celebrated my sister's birthday toward the end of our trip at Crabs in Pensacola. Logan loved the live band and danced his little heart out while shoveling honey biscuits into his mouth. We feasted on shrimp and crab legs and headed home with sleepy babies that were ready for bed. Unfortunately, while we were out to dinner we learned that our AC unit broke and came home to an 85 degree townhouse. Long story short, our AC was out for the rest of our trip which meant extra long days at the pool and beach in order to combat the 90-95 degree temps that awaited us at home. We ended up packing everything up and staying at my sister's townhouse the last night of our trip which made the little girls (and Logan) extremely happy.

We headed home at 7 AM on Saturday morning and after 17 grueling hours spent with the worst version of Taylor I have ever seen, we finally arrived home just after midnight. The combination of no AC and our drive home made our trip memorable (to say the least), but it was still one of the best vacations I've ever had. Watching our children wake up eager to see their grandparents each morning and excited to play with their cousins from sun up till sun down was absolutely priceless and worth every drop of sweat and every blood-curdling scream we had to endure. I am so thankful that we were able to make this trip happen, and I hope that we will be able to vacation more frequently as our children get older (and become more tolerable travel companions). But for now, I'm happy to have these images to look back on and our memories to hold us over until we can tolerate being in a car with our children again our next trip. However long away that may be.

The Nashville skyline because, well...Nashville.