The Francis Family Vacation

Family vacation. Some families do the traditional beach vacation every year while others may go to the mountains or do road trips. We don’t really have a “tradition” besides the fact that we alternate locations every year and so far each time we’ve gone to the beach I’ve been pregnant. I guess that counts for tradition? For us, I’m more of a beach person than Matthew therefore every other year we go to the beach.  On the years he’s been in charge of planning, we’ve gone to Savannah, GA and taken a road trip to Shenandoah National Park, Harper’s Ferry, WV and Washington D.C. And on my years so far we’ve gone to Kill Devil Hills, NC at The Outerbanks and Seagrove Beach, FL on 30A. As much as I love the beach, I have to admit that it is fun to see different places and try new things. And it gives good balance to life.

This year the Francis Family hit the road for vacation at Seagrove Beach, FL. We made our first pitstop in Northwest Alabama to spend a couple of days with my family before continuing South. Luckily, the rainy weather was only on our drive down and the Lord blessed us with beautiful weather for the rest of our trip.

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One adventure we experienced on our drive down was eating at Gary’s Cafe, which we mistakenly thought was in the middle of nowhere. We decided to stop for lunch since after exiting off the interstate the last hint of food we saw was the Subway we passed 30 minutes back. Matthew felt as if he would be out of place in his gym shorts and sandals so before even getting out of the vehicle he changed into jeans and his John Deere cap. (Yes, that’s my husband trying to fit in.) To make it even more humorous, as we walk up to the door we are greeted by a crew of local inmates all decked out in their black and white striped jumpsuits. I promise I’m not making this up. I’m not that creative. But I can’t knock Gary’s Cafe. It was good southern cooking by some good southern folks. However, upon immediately leaving Gary’s Cafe had we gone one more mile down the road we would have discovered a whole slew of restaurant options. Sooo I guess we weren’t in the middle of nowhere after all. It made for good memories though.

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As we continued on our trek, we began seeing signs regarding a bridge out. But there were no detour signs to be found so we continued until we eventually reached the bridge that was in fact out. We found our detour via a big, grumpy woman who’s probably sick and tired of countless tourists a day stopping to ask how to be rerouted and then not buying anything from her store. Poor Penny.

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Well after our fun adventures and over six hours in the car we eventually made it to our destination. The Palms at Seagrove!

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We had a great condo with a gorgeous view.

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The only negative part, which could also be positive were the stairs. Three flights up to our room, no elevator, and three flights to the beach, no elevator. Great for your legs and calves. But pretty tiring when your 30 weeks pregnant hauling beach gear and/or a toddler. Therefore I felt no guilt when splurging on food. I’m sure I burned it all off. 🙂

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Since this would be Z’s first trip to the ocean I was curious to see how he would react and if he would enjoy it. Our first venture to the beach was late in the afternoon so we decided not to suit up in our swim gear.

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I guess we were being naive parents!

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I was definitely wrong to think that Z would be a little timid and hesitant to get in the ocean. Instead, the closer he got to the water the faster his little legs carried him. It was all Matthew and I could do to keep our hands on him and prevent him from diving in head first. Needless to say, he proved he was going to enjoy the beach.

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This was a first for either of us to visit the Beaches of 30A so each place was a new experience. Our first dinner choice, Bayou Bill’s, was based on the recommendation from Tom, the owner of a local service station. We gave it a thumbs up.

Now for our first full day at the beach. Z loved digging in the sand and playing in the water…

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So much so that he took a 2 1/2 hour nap on the beach. Poor guy couldn’t even wait to get back up to the room. But how relaxing is it to fall asleep to waves lapping against the shore.

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Not to sound selfish, but beach naps for Z resulted in some great beach time for the hubby and me. 🙂
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Dinner number two was at Pizza by the Sea with ice cream for dessert at the Blue Mountain Creamery. Both received another thumbs up.

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Matthew attempted to build a moat and castle on beach day number two, but I’m sure you can guess how that turned out with a toddler on the prowl. Oh well, at least he tried.
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Dinner choice number 3, Goatfeathers, was founded while we were out exploring the area. We gave it two thumbs up as it was our favorite seafood pick on the trip.

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Our one and only nice family picture…pretty good considering it was taken using the camera timer. And we captured it on the first attempt.  🙂

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More beach fun of soaking up the sun on beach day number three.

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While Z continued his nice, long beach naps…

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Matthew (with a little help from me 😉 ) finally got to finish his moat project on our last day at the beach.

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But all good things must come to an end when Baby-zilla wakes up. Two hours of work destroyed within a minute. But hey, that’s what happens when you have a toddler. How boring life would be without him.

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Little Z also decided to make new friends on our last day at the beach. Turns out they too were from Tennessee and they also contributed to our dinner number four choice.

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So since we got similar recommendations from both my sister and our new beach pals, we decided to spend our last night eating and exploring Seaside. First stop, the food trucks. Our pick, Barefoot BBQ.

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Next, free play at the amphitheater.

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And for dessert, ice cream from It’s Heavenly.

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The beaches were so clean and gorgeous that we had a difficulty finding both seashells and sand crabs. Luckily Z was able to see and chase a couple of sand crabs.

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As we prepared to leave Seagrove Beach we scouted the area in search of a 30A sign to commemorate my turning 30 on May 30th on the beaches of 30A. It proved to be a little more difficult than I expected, but we made do.

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To wrap up our trip, we headed over to Mobile, AL to spend the day/night with my little sis, her boyfriend and my mom. We celebrated my birthday with a trip to the park, an amazing steak dinner (courtesy of Chef Miles), cake and time with family.

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Whether it’s the beach or mountains, sight seeing or lounging, take a little time to get away for a family vacation. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be long. You just have to be together. (Majorly corny I know, but still true.)

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