Sunday, April 06, 2008

Destination: Destin (Part 3)

I have a little morning ritual, which I think I have now realized I inherited from my mother, where I have to drink my coffee alone in the morning, at least the first few cups. At home, I work or read blogs in the still of the early morning or sometimes on the weekends, I indulge in morning news shows. When we travel, I get up before everyone else and head down to the lobby to find some coffee and relax reading the local paper or magazines until everyone else is up. So, in Nashville, I headed down to the restaurant in the morning and read some magazines and drank coffee. Everyone else joined me later for breakfast.

As a side note, vacations for our family represent a period of extreme freedom. We loosen up on what the kids can eat, when they can eat it, where they can eat it, what they can watch on television (usually only PBS Kids and Disney are allowed in our house, but vacation means Cartoon Network and the beloved Nickelodeon), when they go to bed, we tend to buy them more stuff—it is just usually a general “yes-fest.” Sort of like how we do birthday days at our house.

So they selected cinnamon rolls and sugared cereal from the breakfast buffet. After breakfast, we went back to our room to pack up and hit the road again. The excitement was obvious--it was going to be a long car ride for sure.

We decided to visit a great toy store just down the road before heading the rest of the way to Destin. I got them some more surprises for the car and Andrew and Phillip picked out these big guns they wanted, like old wooden shot guns. Again, vacation in our family is about stepping outside the rules and having fun—they got the guns, which never would have flown at home. Sam picked two stuffed animals because the 3,449 other ones he has just are not enough.

We hit the road around 9:30AM. Traffic continued to be bad—the whole way. We drove and drove and drove. We stopped for lunch in Montgomery, Alabama. Once we were on the other side of Montgomery, we got on 331—a back roads state highway. Wow. Now there was a look at life I have never really seen, except for maybe driving the hills of Tennessee.

We listened to Radio Disney, watched movies (oh, and the wireless headphones were not working, so we all got to listen to the movies), talked, Sam and Andy fought and Phillip pretty much kept his head down and played his GameBoy the whole time. Pretty much every five minutes, Andrew would ask when are we getting to Florida—even when we were in Florida. Oh, and the pee stops---geeze, the pee stops.
After Montgomery, Alabaman, we left the big highway and hit a smaller state highway that was most of the time two lanes (331). It cut right through the "back country" and provided interesting sites as we drove. Literally shantys and mobile homes so dilapidated I would start to think about the stories of the place--what happened there, why did they leave, where did they go--and then, half of the time, all of the sudden I would realize there were people still living there. Life had clearly passed most of these small towns by.

In one of those small towns with nothing but empty store fronts in its once glorious downtown, we got stopped in a small town in Alabama. Being pulled over with Jeff in the car is interesting. "Put your hazards on," I said. "No, you don't put your hazards on," he said. "Yes you do," I said. "No, you don't," he said. Fine. Whatever. "Just don't say anything," he said. The police officer walked up to the car and asked a few questions. I so wanted to talk. I could hear in Jeff's voice he was slightly nervous. He knew this would be a big ticket if we got one.

They chatted back and forth for a few minutes. The guy was like 100 and giving Jeff a mini-lecture. All of the sudden, I realize his badge says Chief. "Your the CHIEF of police? We got pulled over by the Chief?," I asked. "Yes ma'am," was his response. "Wow," I said, "That's kinda neat."

Within a second, I knew Jeff didn't appreciate my editorial comment. Finally, the lecture was over and he let us go. He was kind enough to extend a professional courtesy and not give Jeff a ticket. I put a tally mark on my mental Jeff's Got Pulled Over sheet (he needed some, as I had pulled ahead with a strong lead after construction on I-70 last year). Finally, we got to the Florida house.

The kids piled out of the van and the second part of the adventure began. There was a great extra lot next to the house (awaiting at least another two houses) with sand instead of dirt. The boys immediately ran there and started playing. We explored the house in amazement. (Andy showing off his gun that he picked out at the toy store. Sigh. Certainly there are worse things in life than boys who like guns, right?

Now, I must say that we had seen the pictures of the house on the internet and knew it looked nice, plus it is pretty new, so we have fairly high expectations, but…our neighbor who owns it is a man of great means but even greater modesty, a bit of a saver if you will. We thought there would be limits to the interior.
But, we were wrong. The house was amazing—huge and everything inside was beautiful. Great appliances, televisions, huge bathrooms, lots of natural light, it was fabulous. There were two full bed and baths we didn’t even use. It was more than enough space in a beautiful neighborhood with an incredible view.


Anne said...

Finally in Florida! yay. I'm enjoying the trip story.

Anonymous said...

The house looks fantastic from the outside! Sounds like the inside was a nice surprise. I love the story about being stopped by the PO-lice in 'Bama. I'm sure you will be hearing the story for years about how he talked his way out of that one!