"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Seaside, Destin-ation

We took a drive deep down south to the panhandle of Florida this weekend for a quick long weekend beach getaway. Joining us were Ashlee's twin sister, Paige, her husband, Andy, their daughter and our cutie-pie, almost-5-year-old niece, Ella, and the girls' mom, Evelyn. The sole purpose for the trip was for Ashlee and Paige to run in the Seaside School 5K Race which Ashlee had bought Paige entry into as a Christmas present. The biggest payoff for the girls (besides the accomplishment and the exercise) was a Vera Bradley (big sponsor) bag that each participant received after completing the run. The rest of us decided to tag along to make a beach trip out of it since Seaside is..well...seaside.We got rooms at a conveniently-located Hampton Inn a few miles away near Destin, Florida. The drive down was rather long but necessary due to soaring airfare prices recently. The in-laws drove down from Chattanooga in one car and we headed out from Nashville in a rental from Enterprise which we got a great deal on. It was a spacious new Chevy Impala for a mere $13 a day. The 7-hour drive down went without mishap of too much note (other than having to drive the wrong way down a freeway off-ramp due to a wreck ahead, backed up traffic and a gas light burning brightly!). We passed the time on the road fairly easily thanks to an audio book from one of our favorite comediennes, Chelsea Handler, and her hilarious true-life escapades in "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea."
We arrived late Saturday afternoon in Seaside in time for the girls to pick up their registration packs that included their race numbers for the following morning. Seaside is a rather famous planned community (it was featured in the film "The Truman Story") constructed on the Emerald Coast. It's extremely quaint, clean, organized and very quiet. After some searching, we found a little pizzeria nearby to have dinner at called The Pickle Factory. What the name has to do with pizza is beyond us, but their pies were excellent.
The next morning we awoke bright and early for the girls' 7:30 AM start of the race. Both Ashlee and Paige did great and finished the race ahead of their previous best times at such a distance. The weather was great for a race: cool, breezy and no humidity. Unfortunately, the weather stayed that way the rest of the day which is not so great for the beach, so the girls all went shopping and the guys checked out the the Bass Pro Shop in nearby Destin as well as the Irish pub there that brews their own beer (more on that can be found in Rob's beer blog). Dinner was a bit of disaster that evening as we all got lost searching for a Cajun seafood joint that sounded promising about a half-hour from the hotel. When we finally found it and sat down at a table, the small place was so unbelievably loud with tables full of people seemingly trying to shout over one another, that we had to make the tough decision to just get up and leave without eating there despite an interesting menu and rumbling bellies. This revolt was led by us two because one of our New Year's resolutions in 2011 is to not spend good money and time in a place we don't feel is worth it. This has been about the third time we have initiated this mantra this year and we feel all the better for it.
By the time we got back near the hotel, little Ella was exhausted and so was her grandma. Neither were very hungry and opted to crash in the room instead of pursuing a late dinner, so the foursome that was left trudged on and in an all-out desperation move, we opted for the chain seafood restaurant, Bonefish Grill, in Destin. We actually had a great time there laughing about our misadventures of the night, and the food wasn't too bad either (Bang Bang Shrimp is never a bad choice).
After a relaxing sleep-in on Monday morning, the weather had improved to sunny but the temps still hovered in the cool range well below 70 degrees thanks to a cold-front that had moved in the day before. We headed over to nearby Henderson Beach State Park, determined to at least get a little beach time in despite the weather. The beach is beautiful here (photo above) and thanks to the temps it was pretty much abandoned for our own private use. We braved the cold water and did a bit of wading in the pounding surf. It wasn't too bad after you got used to it. We two took a long walk westward along the shore that was very relaxing and enjoyable. We got back in time to help Ella build one humdinger of a sand castle (if we do say so ourselves) complete with walls, a moat, a central tower and gardens.
Dinner this evening went much smoother and we all had a blast at McGuire's Irish Pub, the one the guys had visited the day before. Despite it's name, this place is a world-class steakhouse as well as having all the usual Irish fare. Our two steaks, filet minon for Ashlee and New York strip for Rob, were superb. The place itself is pretty unforgettable with the nearly 900,000 dollar bills (photo below) hanging from its ceilings (we didn't count to confirm but we will take their word for it), it's delicious 18-cent senate bean soup (yep it costs 18 cents per bowl) and as mentioned before, several of their own types of beers brewed on the premises (again, more on that in Rob's beer blog).
Tuesday was another sleep in day for everyone before we all loaded up for the long drive back up north. We downloaded another Chelsea Handler book for the drive back: "My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands" which is also hilarious and surprisingly well written given the racy subject matter. We got into a lot of rain coming back through Alabama and a bit of a traffic jam in downtown Birmingham due to an accident, but we were home after returning the rental car before 10 Pm.
In hindsight, it definitely wasn't our best trip by far, and the foul-ups with the weather and dinner on Saturday night don't overshadow the fun we had and the accomplishment of Ashlee and Paige in their first 5K race. Good job, ladies!

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