I knew that RH and I needed to take a relaxing vacation, especially since our last couple of trips that lasted beyond a long weekend were whirlwind jaunts through the innermost workings of Seoul, Korea, and a fast-paced tour of all the wonders that Paris, France, has to offer. When you combine weeks and weeks of a pretty demanding schedule at work (while we may leave the office at a reasonable time, we’re usually back at work from home after dinner) with the hectic goings-on of caring for my mom, attempting to rent out two properties at the same time, and trying to nurture my somewhat desperate need for a creative outletthere was no question. Our next vacation needed to be a relaxing one!
After much debate over possible destinations (Portland? Grand Canyon? Mexico?), we decided to keep it simple and affordable by heading to Florida. We booked a great condo we found on VRBO and began counting down the days to our weeklong stay.
Saturday morning, we packed up the CR-V and began the six(ish)-hour drive down here. With the rear seats folded down, we still managed to pretty much fill up the car with our luggage and accessories. At one point, RH laughed and said, “I think we pack more toys than families with kids do!” Indeed, tucked safely amongst the suitcases and bags of books and DVDs, clothing, and computer equipment was our Wii and Guitar Hero guitar.
The drive down went pretty smoothly. It rained off and on as we wound our way through Alabama towards the Gulf coast. At one point, in the middle of a lighthearted conversation about who knows what, we saw a black dog ahead in the middle of the road. He was limping as he slowly made his way across the two-lane highway. As we passed him, we saw a large, gaping wound in his shoulder, and as he shuffled helplessly to the other side of the road, I burst into tears. I felt so awful for that poor dog, and while I felt bad about not stopping to help him, I also had no idea what we would do since we were in the middle of nowhere and could barely even muster a decent cell signal.
I turned to RH and managed to spit out between sobs, “You know you married a sap, right?”
Fortunately, the rest of the drive was uneventful and safe. When we finally arrived at the condo, we were excited as we walked through and saw how large and nice it is. Heck…it’s bigger than the condo we live in at home! And it’s very well-appointed. We knew we would be very comfortable here for the week.
That evening, we walked across the street to the beach. The beach is literally right across the street, just a few minutes from the condo. The sun was beginning to set, and sound of the waves rushing onto the shore instantly began to melt away the stress of our life back home.
We headed into Seasidea little under two miles and just a few minutes’ drive awaywhere we walked around a bit before deciding on a quick, casual dinner of steamed shrimp from The Shrimp Shack.
After dinner, we decided to pick up some cupcakes from Queen Bee Cupcakes, which operates out of one of the handful of vintage Airstreams stationed in Seaside. They now have me pondering how I could make an Airstream business work back home in Atlanta!
RH got a salted caramel cupcake, and I tried a “Sweet and Tart,” which is a cute name for a key lime cupcake. They were quite yummy, but tiny compared to both the cupcakes I make at home and the cupcakes sold in bakeries in Atlanta. Oh, and they were also about 50% more expensive. But hey…I guess a good business owner will charge what the market will bear. And if people are willing to pay over $3 for a few bites of cake, then make it so! (I must also disclose that I found the Queen Bee Cupcakes to be tastier than many from Atlanta bakeries…but not my own.)
On Sunday, we had a wonderful breakfast (if I do say so myself) of homemade waffles with mixed berries. I was thrilled to find both a waffle iron and a hand mixer in the condo. I had never made waffles before, so vacation seemed like a wonderful time to give it a try! We had picked up the few ingredients that the condo didn’t stock at Publix the night before, so Sunday morning I proceeded to whip up a few egg whites to fold into the simple batter of flour, baking powder, salt, oil, milk and egg yolks.
Here’s the recipe I used: Best Waffles Ever on seriouseats.com. They really were deliciousdelightfully crunchy, as if sugar had been added to the batter.
The rest of Sunday was lovely. After spending some time on the beach, we had a very early dinner at The Great Southern Café in Seaside, where I had their version of shrimp and grits. The grits had gouda cheese in them which made them even creamier and more flavorful than most other variations, and the dish was topped with “sweet potato hay” that kind of made the whole thing look like some kind of alien headdress.
Later that evening, back at the condo, we watched Annie Hall, which RH had wanted me to watch for a long time. At the end, I asked, “There’s no happy ending?” I thought Diane Keaton was adorable and enjoyed the film, especially because I got a kick out of comparing the neuroses of Woody Allen’s character to those of my beloved husband.
Monday we explored nearby Grayton Beach State Park, which is known for its lake and dunes. We trekked around the nature trail loop which was thoroughly enjoyable until the noontime sun began to beat down on us with no mercy.
The rest of the day included a drive down the other side of Hwy 30-A through the futuristic Alys Beach to Rosemary Beach, which has made its way onto my list of prettiest beaches ever.
On the way back to Seagrove Beach, we stopped at the Alys Beach Resource Center, which is basically a self-guided tour of the development’s “New Urbanism” ideals and building philosophies. It was interesting, and the community feels a little like something out of a mid-80s sci-fi film set.
That evening we dined on crabcakes from the seafood market across the street and orzo with lemon, mint, feta and olives, and then we played Guitar Hero before climbing into bed. I made it through several songs on “Hard,” which is an accomplishment for me and my “Medium” difficulty self.
Today we headed down to the beach in the morning before cleaning up and having a marvelous brunch at Another Broken Egg Café in Grayton Beach. We drove around the area a bit and picked up some Gulf grouper on the way back to the condo. We rested and read in the coolness of the AC, and I eventually fell into what can hardly be called a nap, as I was so deeply asleep RH later told me he at one point watched my chest to make sure I was still alive and breathing.
After I woke up, we headed back down for more time on the beach, and then we rode the one-speed bikes that come with the condo through Seaside and into WaterColor. Just a little while ago, we finished our dinner of baked grouper and leftover orzo, I finished Julia Child’s My Life in France, and I sat down to write this blog post.
I so enjoyed reading Julia Child’s book. I must admit that I am one of those thirty-something women who bought My Life in France after the all the hub-bub about the film Julie and Julia started, but I have been doing more and more cooking, and I do adore France, so of course I would enjoy the book! (And while I remember reading the article on Julie in The Times several years ago, I admit it was before I was much if at all interested in cooking anything fancier than spaghetti with meatballs.)
I was so glad that the book went into much greater detail on Julia’s time in France than the film Julie and Julia did (naturally), because I found the little tidbits from the movie intriguing. And I adored reading more about her relationship with her husband Paul, because as RH and I left the movie theater, I said, winding my arm through his and getting weepy, “They both had husbands like you,” referring to his unwavering support and encouragement of me and my dreams.
I also found the book’s chapters of her daily life a reminder of how much I used to enjoy blogging little chapters of my own, when I had the time. Ah, the magic word”time.” I can’t promise any posts of great length or regularity once this wonderful vacation ends, but oh, dear readers, I will do my best!