Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Road Back...Day 7

Somewhere between Chicago and Indianapolis, I asked Mom what "hiccups" she thought we would encounter during our trip.  After all, we were talking a rental van, some 2,500 miles across country, four adults, one child, a luggage rack strapped to the top of the van, and a cabin purchased on ebay in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.  It wasn't a matter of whether we would run into a few hiccups or not, but the extent of how killer the hiccups would be.  

Every now and then, we would laugh and refer to something as a hiccup, although we were thankful they were small and laughable.  My near-fainting experience, Cruz's near-accident melt-down near Indianapolis, and our hour and a half trek to the 'pavement ends' sign in the Smoky Mountains all counted as hiccups; however, we all escaped unscathed, happy, and fortunately, dry.  We counted ourselves lucky and as the last day of our trip approached and we began to wrap our minds around the fact that we were about 1,200 miles away from home, we thanked our lucky stars for good health, safe travel, and lots and lots of happy memories.

And then Dad woke up deaf.  

There we stood, Mom, Beau, and I, talking over Dad's bed to see if the water that had got stuck in his ear the day before had drained out.  He could see our mouths moving, but couldn't hear a word we were saying!  It didn't hurt, but the thought of traveling some 20 hours home unable to hear out of one ear was enough to make us all suggest he try an urgent care clinic before we left.  We had plans to leave at 9 that morning, but instead, Beau drove Dad to a clinic by Tybee Island to see if they could drain the Atlantic Ocean out of his ear.

Three hours, one Five Guys burger, and about sixty-six rides up and down the escalator later, and our two guys returned, my dad's hearing back to normal.  Beau said that if dad really wanted to hear the ocean in his ear, he should have just bought a sea shell!

A little behind schedule, we said goodbye to Savannah and found ourselves on the road again, taking a different route that would lead us through Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, St. Louis, and eventually, home.  Although the road home is never as fun as the ride there, we all did well and made some final vacation memories after a very full, very fulfilling week away...

...Mom and I finally got our wish to eat at a Cracker Barrel.  We had never been to one before, but it seemed like the right thing to do on a road trip like this.  We had semi-mediocre food, relaxed in the rocking chairs outside, and watched Mom and Dad play a game of Checkers. 

...We listened to Cruz happily read his new book, Cars Galore, as the sun set somewhere in between Nashville and Kentucky.  He was such a happy, content boy for almost the entirety of the trip, and his little animated voice reading this book and making up sound effects just kind of captured his presence in the car.  I was so proud of him and will never forget what a joy he was to travel with.

...We finally called it quits at a Super 8 motel in 'who knows where.'  We had no idea what town we were in - it was just one of those we're-tired-let's-stop-at-the-next-hotel-we-see-on-the-interstate things.  It wasn't the Hyatt, but it had a bed to stretch our legs and a nice continental breakfast awaiting us the next morning.

Did I mention it was no Hyatt?!   

...Stopped to 'go potty' at an endocrinology clinic at a hospital in St. Louis.  We know from experience that when Cruz says he has to go potty, he really should have went potty 20 minutes ago.  So, Beau pulled over at the closest place he could which just happened to be a hospital.  I took Cruz in, only to discover that he had figured out that telling us he had to go was a surefire way to get us out of the car for a bit.  After two more stops within the next half hour, our little boy who cried wolf settled for Wreck-It Ralph and forgot all about his bladder.

...At one point, we were all getting a little tired of being in the car (ahem, Beau), and I just happened to tattle to a two year old in a bathroom stall.  I said to Cruz, "Daddy's crabby, Cruz," to which Cruz replied, "He's not crabby, Mommy, he's just fine!"  Thanks for the support, Cruz!

...We saw the St. Louis Arch, the Grand Ole Opry, and finally, Chipolte in Iowa City.  We had dang near made it home, survived with clear ears and full hearts.  

And not enough peaches!  It was our one regret leaving Georgia.  There's nothing so sweet as a Georgia peach.  

We made it!  48 hours on the road, 2,600 miles in the car, and seven days of happy memories I will never forget.      

Our Last Day in Georgia...Day 6

We spent our last day of vacation at the ocean.  We had seen it at sunset, but we needed a day to swim, build sand castles, and bask in the life that is beach life since the closest thing we have to a beach is a small sand bar off of muddy George Wyth!  Definitely not the same thing.

Not by a long shot. 

Our morning started with exploring the cute little island of Tybee.  We explored lighthouses and beach houses, and went back to the pier to watch the same boys fish some more.  They were the sweetest boys and were quite advanced in catching sharks, rays, and other marine life from the ocean.  They caught another sting ray while we were there and didn't flinch when the stinger got a little close to them.  And when an apparent first-timer caught something other than a slimy fish, the boys jumped to his rescue to take care of whatever was on the other end of his line. 

After some exploring, we ate lunch at The Crab Shack, probably the most recommended place from other visitors and locals.  On Tybee Island, The Crab Shack started as a little fishing camp on a tiny marina, home to a fishing hoist, bait shop, and a little bar where locals would congregate and exaggerate their fish stories at the end of the day (website).  The owners soon started serving seafood on Friday and Saturday nights, and are now referenced as the best outdoor dining experience in Georgia!  Wood decks surrounded by palm trees, tables with a big hole in the middle and a garbage can underneath for fish bones and shellfish remains, and a live alligator pond that is home to more than seventy live alligators are just a few things that make The Crab Shack unique.  We ordered their signature seafood platter, served on a garbage can lid, and spent the next half hour silently attempting to peel shrimp, find the meat in crayfish, and find the biggest piece of meat in a crab leg.  We most definitely looked like out-of-towners trying to get through our seafood!  The crab was by far our favorite, along with the salt scrub and outdoor sinks deemed "the secret of the islands."

After filling ourselves to near oblivion one more time, we settled on the beach for the rest of the afternoon.  It was the perfect beach day and we set up camp under a red and white striped umbrella by the shore.

Memorable moments from our day by the Atlantic...

...My father.  He was a wave whisperer.  For a man who can't swim, he was sure brave in the ocean!  The waves were pretty intense and he made his way out past the tide to ride them for awhile.  "Awhile" turned into most of the afternoon.  At times we were out there with him, but even when we'd head to shore, he would stay there by himself.  I'd look out and see nothing but this little head sticking out of the water with this goofy grin on his face.  He was quite taken by the waves and loved it so much, he tried to take it home with him in his ears.  More on that later...

...Cruz loved the sand, but was fearful of the water.  He loves the pool, but the waves were a little intimidating to a little guy.  At his height, he couldn't go out too far before he'd get smacked in the face with saltwater, and he much more preferred to be in the sand building castles.


...He may not have walked the walk of beach life, but he fit the look!  Cruz is meant to be a surfer boy in the summer.  His skin is so dark and wavy hair so light and if he didn't scream every time mom or dad would head into the waves, he could have convinced people he was born by the coast!

...My mom was pretty funny in the ocean, too!  A few times, we convinced her to ride the waves with us and I almost peed my pants watching her!  Every wave would knock her off course and she had a hard time finding her feet again!  All you would see were arms flailing and this hilarious look on her face.  It was pure comedy.  

...Beau and I practiced doing flips in the waves, Mom and Cruz curled up under the umbrella for a little rest, and we all drank our share of salt water for the day.  I had never spent so much time in the ocean and it was hard to call it a day when it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for our banquet.  

...Beau finally got his boiled peanuts!  He found them at a roadside produce stand on our way back to Savannah and bought two grocery bags full.  Ate them all the way back to the hotel as if he hadn't eaten in days.  It was disgusting, really.  Hot bits of water spraying from the shell as he'd bite them with his teeth...let's just say I prefer my Georgia peaches to his boiled peanuts any day of the week ;).

...After attempting to clean the floury sand from EVERYTHING WE OWNED, we took some naps and got ready for our last night in Savannah.  Beau's company throws a nice dinner and dance on the last night, a welcome and relaxed end to the trip (and our pocketbooks).  Cruz looked so handsome in his white polo and khaki shorts and he looked so tan!  We ate more seafood, met some other nice families from around the Midwest, and soon watched the kids have the time of their lives on the dance floor. 

Some pictures before the banquet...

...Last year, our little Cruz stole the show at the final dance in Tahoe.  This year, he tried out his killer moves again, but also made some friends with other little ones and quickly gave us a glimpse of what it will be like when he's sixteen.  At one point, we found him under a table with a couple of adorable girls.  When we lifted the tablecloth to see what the two year olds were up to, he waved his hand at us and yelled, "Stop watching us!" 

His signature move this night included two index fingers up by his ears to simulate bunny ears.  I'd say it worked particularly well with Robin Thicke's, "Blurred Lines," if I do say so myself ;).

My boy knows how to impress the ladies - strawberry stained shirt and all...

...After the dinner reception, my parents put a tired, danced-out Cruz to bed, and Beau and I enjoyed a late walk around Savannah and one more taste of Leopold's Ice Cream.  We strolled in the moonlight (quite fitting really, since the Andy Williams' song, Moon River, was written about Savannah), got a couple of single scoops, and found a park bench in the middle of Chippewa Square.  We sat and shared ice cream under the stars and it was the perfect way to end our little epic family trip.  

Tomorrow...home bound!  What a week!


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