Monday, June 11, 2012

A Moveable Feast

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast is a set of memoirs about the years Hemingway spent in Paris in the company of literary giants like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, & James Joyce.  The title of the memoirs was taken from a quote attributed to Hemingway's friend & biographer A.E. Hotchner, who is credited with informing Hemingway that, "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

 To borrow Mr. Hotchner's sentiment, my life is a feast, a constant, unending array of one delectable morsel after another, & last week the table was set in Destin, Florida.  For a week, Reagan had not only her father & I to look after her, but four grandparents, two aunts, & one uncle as we all descended on a rented home in SanDestin, a resort community in Destin I've loved a long time.

Nearly every summer since as far back as I can remember, the Louisiana State Bar Association has held their annual meeting at SanDestin, giving my dad, & now my husband, a chance to earn some of the required CLE (that's continuing legal education) hours they must accumulate yearly, & the rest of us a fantastic reason to go on vacation . . . meaning laying around, reading a little, drinking coffee, eating out, shopping - basically the usual, except we all live together for a week & sometimes wander down to the beach.

As I've grown, so has Destin.  Once a tiny fishing town with only a Pizza Hut & a few local restaurants to speak of, now it's a haven for beach-goers, the once desolate stretch of Highway 98 now lined with restaurants, resorts, shopping, & entertainment options.  I've logged many hours on the Destin beaches, spent a great deal of money at the outlet mall, & even fled two approaching hurricanes.

It was with considerable sentimentality that I packed Reagan for her first trip to Destin, & I'm thankful she spent the week surrounded by the people she loves, a throng of witnesses to her first steps on the beach & her first splash in the ocean.  You can imagine the pictures I took.  There may be a later addendum to this post as photos taken by other members of the group are shared with me, but for now, here's our week in review . . .

Saturday:  We hit the interstate headed east after dropping Sophie off for her stay at the Animal Hospital.  Ok, we went to Chick-fil-A, then got on the road.

Reagan was in good sprits early on while watching Peter Pan (which is a complete riot to watch now given the rampant political incorrectness) & then Toy Story.

Movie euphoria over:

Afternoon pit stop . . . my eyes locked on the Sweet & Salty Bugles when I walked in the store.  They did not disappoint.  This was just the beginning of the ridiculous amount of unhealthy food I ate all week long, every chance I got.  

Reagan dined on some animal crackers.  Trey later removed bits of their arms & legs & a carcass or two from the many tiny crevices of her car seat.  

In case you weren't aware, everyone thinks Saturday is a great day to drive down to the beach. 

Tunnel traffic in Mobile:

Almost there . . . 

You can't hear it, but as I snapped this picture, over half the vehicles in the tunnel were honking incessantly . . . because people are, in general, annoying idiots.

Concentration . . . 

Nap #2 hit her fast, mid-raisin grab:

It has always been at this point in our many journeys to Destin that my dad would tell everyone in the car we could release our collective breath he insisted we hold while we drove through the tunnel.  At the first sight of the expanse of water meeting the horizon, I let out a little squee (aloud when I was younger, now, usually in my head).

If you've never been at the beach when the moon was full, you need to check the calendar for this before scheduling your next beach vacation.  We were blessed with a full moon last week.  

Dinner Saturday evening at Rum Runner's, where - shock! - most of the patrons were drinking & singing along loudly with the live entertainment.  The food was great, the entertainment wasn't too bad, & the only downer were the annoying Alabama fans at a nearby table.  Annoying Alabama fans . . . redundant, I know.

You know how when you've been in the car all day & you finally arrive at your destination, eat a nice dinner, & you think to yourself, "Now I'd really love to go grocery shopping!"  Yeah.  I suppose it's better than waking up to a house full of starving adults & one toddler who expects cold milk.

Ideally, grocery shopping involves one person armed with a carefully planned list.  We opted for the opposite.

Oblivious to the luggage & groceries that had to be unpacked, Reagan donned her PJs & played with her daddy's hat.

Sunday morning dawned early for those of us with rooms facing the east, but all wasn't lost.  

Yes, we brought it with us, because when you pack as much as we did (seriously - a baby stroller & 3 sets of golf clubs, to name a few items), it makes no sense to take a chance on your coffee.  Subpar coffee is a quick way to put a damper on a vacation (& my mood). 

One of the perks of the house we rented was the use of a golf cart that we all had way too much fun driving all over SanDestin.  

Loading up for our first pool outing:

There was a moment of concern when we reached the pool area & it appeared that someone had recently been murdered in or near the hot tub:

Reagan made herself at home:

As did my dad:

Sunday lunch at The Back Porch, where the only thing better than the view is the fact that you can show up in your swimsuit sporting unwashed hair & no make-up, & you fit right in (The Back Porch has this in common with the West Monroe Wal-Mart):

For as many years as we've been vacationing in Destin, we've discussed cooking dinner, as opposed to everyone showering, climbing into the cars, fighting traffic, waiting for a table, & then waiting for food . . . this year, we actually did it:

After dinner lounge on the front porch:

Sunday evening, the group ventured to the beach.  We did not all wear white & attempt to take whimsical photos of ourselves - not Sunday night, or at all, so don't expect any such photos.

At nearly 18 months old, her feet hit the sand for the first time (well, her feet clad in pink beach shoes, because who knows what is buried in that sand):

The aforementioned full moon:

Monday, Reagan returned to the beach, which she dearly loves, to her father's chagrin.  He loves being clean more than he loves the beach.  

Monday afternoon, Trey & Reagan napped while I walked the grounds for awhile.  Not only are the beaches whiter in Destin, the hydrangeas are apparently on some sort of hydrangea crack:

I snapped these when I returned from my walk . . . the family that wears nautical stripes together, naps together:

Tuesday, Jessica & my dad left to retrieve the final member of our group, Uncle Heath, who flew in from Dallas, lured by the numerous golf courses that dot the SanDestin property.  Like Trey, he is no fan of the sand.

Reagan headed back to the beach:

Tuesday's nap began en route from the beach to the house:

Wednesday morning . . . beach.  Another day, another Pina Colada: 

Lunch in the Village at Baytowne Wharf, a magical place where you can stroll around in a swimsuit cover-up & not only blend in, but even appear fashionable & trendy:

Reagan was a little distraught over the wait time for our meal.  Her grandfather's were doing similar fretting as the reality that they might miss their tee time set in:

Thursday morning there was a brief thunderstorm, so we all headed down to The Doughnut Hole for breakfast.  

Trey & I are not morning people (though, admittedly, Trey handles mornings with more grace than I do . . . not that it takes much to out-grace me in the AM):

I told him to smile:

Reagan was skeptical of leaving our cozy rental home so early:

Still not smiling:

Thursday afternoon, Reagan napped while I lounged & read Stephenie Meyer's The Host, the June selection for my book club:

Friday morning, Reagan spent some time inspecting her Ronald Reagan bobble head doll Uncle Heath brought her from his recent trip to D.C.: 

Again, lunch at The Back Porch:

Friday evening group tour of Destin Commons, where we restaurant hopped until finally settling in at Panera Bread, where our party of ten was easily accommodated:

Reagan exploring:

Attempting to explore solo:

A Panera Bread pastry ring I was fascinated with  . . . a flaky circle composed of tiny pastries filled with either cherries, apples, or - my favorite - cream cheese.  I thought about what I'd eaten all week, both the content & the sheer quantity, & I didn't buy it.  Had I known what was in store for us Saturday, I'd have bought it & probably made some decaf coffee & eaten every cream cheese filled pastry Friday night, perhaps while everyone else slept.  No, really.  

Saturday morning, all three vehicles were loaded & ready to roll by 9:30.  I was in decent spirits (as decent as possible at 9:30am), thinking I'd have time to go get some groceries & get a few loads of clothes washed when got home.  Ahhhhh, plans.  Again & again & again in life, I'm reminded of the phrase my preacher so often uses when referencing upcoming events . . . "Lord willing." 

It was pouring rain while the men loaded the luggage, so I should've known.  That was the first clue, a bit of foreshadowing, if you will.  Were I a Hemingway character, I'd have paused on the front porch & looked forlornly into the distance, my view marred by sheets of rain, & said something (to myself, of course) like "The rain was relentless, and I knew it would easily, mercilessly, close the distance we'd attempt to put between our caravan and its incessant thrumming."  Yeah, I've been reading entirely too much.

The only thing worse than typical summer Saturday tunnel traffic is summer Saturday tunnel traffic in the rain.  Once we made it inside, I thought we'd seen the worst of things, as there was, literally, a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Things went from bad to worse.  We sat in bumper to bumper traffic for awhile after exiting the tunnel.  Reagan looked on with bemused interest  . . . 

. . . which turned to disdain about the same time I realized I wouldn't be grocery shopping that night.  We received a call from my mother informing us that we needed to leave I-10 due to a wreck that had traffic at a near standstill for miles & miles.  I love interstates, & I mourned the loss of the open lanes, free of traffic lights & all the bothersome things that ensnare you on other roads, as we headed toward unremarkable Alabama roads with speed limits that made me cringe.  

Resigned to the new route, Reagan & I both napped off & on.  This is the last picture I took, because once we reached Jackson, Reagan was inconsolable & no movie, food item, or toy would pacify her & neither one of us was in any mood for photos. 

ELEVEN hours after pulling away from our rental house, we arrived home. 

Purging the trip home from my memory, it was a wonderful week.  My stomach & my heart were as full as the moon all week, & hopefully the memories of the food I ate will sustain me the remainder of the summer as I diet.  My feasting will be metaphorical for the foreseeable future. 


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