It was one of those vacations where you look around and say, “Hmmm, maybe I won’t go back home.”
While Robin Hood was painting San Diego red with buddies, I flew to Jacksonville, Florida for a couple of days to visit one of my best friends. We hadn’t seen each other in two years, so we had a ridiculously good (but too short!) time. We ate delicious food, went to the beach — the beach! As in the ocean! I miss living near the ocean — and watched a little Netflix. I went on two runs while I was there, and my skin soaked up the moisture in the air like a sponge. So much greenery! So much water!
That was only the beginning.
After my sojourn in Jacksonville, I picked up a rental car and drove west to Panama City. I picked Robin Hood up from the Panama City airport, and from there we proceeded to a little corner of paradise called Cape San Blas. The reason? A family reunion.
Wait, you’re saying. Didn’t y’all go to a family reunion…in Florida…in February?
Yes, we did. But that was for my side of the family. This one was for Robin Hood’s. I know; two Florida vacations in one year. Some years are just hard, I tell ya!
I can best describe my time on the Cape like this: I felt like I was in a cocoon. In that cocoon, I was surrounded by fiercely loving people, I heard fabulous stories, I observed and learned new things, and I never felt like I had to behave any way other than my own.
There was no schedule. The only reason I set my alarm in the mornings was to try and time my runs with the tide so that I’d have plenty of well-packed sand to run on. It didn’t always work out according to plan, but hey, a tough run on a gorgeous beach isn’t much to complain about.
There’s something about starting the day with a nice little sweat session, whether or not I’m on vacation, that just feels good. Refreshing. Adding pelicans and seagulls and salt-tinged air to the mix makes it all the better.
Other than running, my days consisted of eating phenomenal food (seafood! homemade key lime pie! TWO KINDS of biscuits and gravy!), going to the beach, and hanging out with my new extended family. We fished, we set and checked crab traps, we played board games, we took family photos by various bodies of water, we had a beach campfire with s’mores. Enormous quantities of fish were caught, including several sting rays and a lemon shark (!).
We relaxed. We laughed. We cried happy tears, and hugged a lot. Bottles of water and soda and sunscreen and bug spray were emptied; bellies and hearts were filled. I got to hang out with some of the coolest kids I have ever met!
It was hard saying good-bye to everyone. And it was hard saying good-bye to the Gulf Coast. As we drove to the airport, on a road that wove along the water, I thought, let’s stay let’s stay let’s stay.
We couldn’t stay, but we have more than enough memories to make up for it.