Monday, June 29, 2015
Our Florida Vacation // Day 2, cont.
I think our travel day and the Florida heat were finally catching up with our littles as they napped well into dinnertime after our day at Busch Gardens. It was good timing, as we saw what would be our only rain storm the entire week during their nap. As I showered and got ready for the night, I checked outside a hundred times wondering if the rain would dampen our plans to head to the much talked about Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach. I was so excited to be on the Gulf side of Florida this year, hoping to catch a few seaside sunsets during our stay, but it wasn't looking good this night. But when the kids woke up at 6 and were definitely not going to be ready for bed at their normal hour, we decided on a whim to go for it and if all else failed, find some seafood and maybe a good movie to watch. I didn't pack a beach bag as we weren't going to have much time for swimming, and we left in total vacation mode as we chased the sunset west...
It was completely overcast and still raining when we left our hotel, but by the time we pulled up to Clearwater Beach, the clouds were breaking and the sun was determined to give us one last show for the night. We immediately escaped from our shoes and sunk our toes in the floury sand, watching Cruz's face turn to that of wonder as he remembered that one-of-a-kind touch. That was it, for within seconds, we lost our boy to the waves. He went running for the water, as fast as he could trudge through that sand, and completely lost his senses as he was soaked from head to toe within seconds. And although we may have different responses, I didn't blame him for a minute. There is something about the ocean that completely overcomes you. Its size, its power, its ability to overtake all five senses all at the same time, is all consuming. Every time I have the opportunity to stare at the ocean for awhile, I question why it is we live so far away from it. There is perhaps no greater combination in the world than breathing in that salty air, feeling the perfect warmth of the water rush over your toes, and watching the sun sink into the horizon as the big waves create the most calming soundtrack. I marvel at God's creation and feel pretty confident that Heaven must be on the coast. Maybe with an endless Iowa summer on the other side. :)
Unlike her brother, who was now having a difficult time keeping his drawers up because of the weight in salt water and sand, Mila was pretty fearful at first. The ocean must look scary to someone of her size and she felt much safer watching the waves crash from our arms. She also kept her eye on her brother, I'm not sure if because she was nervous about his safety or curious about how much fun he was having! We took some pictures, collected some seashells, and tried to drink in every big stormy cloud that painted the perfect sunset for us that night. It of course set much too fast for my liking, and soon we were left with the reality of a wet little boy and nothing but a pair of pajamas (sans underwear) for him to change into. No towel, no extra pair of shoes, and no good way of washing some of that sand away before hopping into our rental car. At first, Cruz was not having this pajamas with no underwear thing, but we bribed him with dessert at Crabby Bill's, a beach-side restaurant that advertised the best seafood in town, a win-win for Beau and I who were very much ready for some seafood and cocktails.
We ordered a full order of steamed white gulf shrimp, two bowls of clam chowder, and a round of daquiris, two virgin and two not so much. The kids were in slushy heaven for the next half hour, allowing Beau and I the chance to get elbow deep in shrimp as we peeled em, dunked em in butter, and devoured every last one, licking our fingers and wishing for more at the end. I tell you, if I could just teleport once a week for a sunset on the beach and a full order of steamed shrimp afterwards, I would be one happy woman!
While our day at Busch Gardens was fun, this night felt like vacation. We hopped in our little Ford Escort and made the trip back to our home away from home, planning our day while the kids dreamed of roller coasters and ocean waves in the backseat.
It was one of the very best nights...