Thursday, November 27, 2014

Riding the 30-A Bike Trail on Thanksgiving Day

(By Steve) On Thanksgiving morning I took a few hours to explore the 30-A bike trail. The house we rented had seven bikes in the garage for renters to use. I took the least crappy bike, which in actuality was still fairly crappy, but to be expected with a rental.  It was a mountain bike with loose suspension, which caused the first part of my energy to be spent moving the suspension.  If you ever mountain biked, this might make sense.

he 30-A is a fairly well known part of Florida that consists of many villages along the 30-A highway. It's about 18 miles in length and sits between Destin and Panama City Florida. The whole road has a well developed bike trail alongside of it. The house we rented was in Blue Mountain Beach, which does have a beach, but no mountain, of course; this is Florida, after all! We were halfway between mile 5 and 6 of the 30-A.

The trail runs near Greyton State Park
I kept looking for gators in the lakes but saw none
I didn't get an early start on Thanksgiving morning, so it wasn't until 11AM that I actually left. The temperature was pretty chilly that day with a high of 59. Despite being chilly, it was bright and sunny.

I promised Linda that I wouldn't be out too long; it was Thanksgiving Day after all, & she was slaving away in the kitchen. I set the timer on my phone for 1:20 and headed West.  I had hoped to make it all the way to the West end of the trail, but I stopped around mile 17 in the town of Seacrest Beach. When I turned around, I discovered the dreaded head wind and knew that it would be difficult getting back in time.  The wind was vicious and cold, and I really began to hate the bike.  I felt like I had to pay the first tenth of my energy to the stupid suspension.

The much photographed post office in Seaside
In places, the trail runs very close to the beach
There are no dunes here, and a longer stretch of sand than the beaches farther West.
It took me about 20 minutes longer but I made it back okay.  I managed to ride 24 miles on a crappy bike depite being out of biking shape.  I was pretty sore for the rest of the day, but then I got to enjoy my football team the Philadelphia Eagles beat the snot out of the Dallas Cowboys.  Of course, after the game, I was more than ready for a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner.

Alys Beach struck me as a pretentious kind of place

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Week with the Bradfords

My sister Wanda & her family decided to come visit us over Thanksgiving.  It seemed like an awesome idea--going halves on a house close to the beach, fun times with family, & a chance to have a special Thanksgiving! Little did we know all the *fun* times that were in store for us!

The house...was great, really!  Our bigs enjoyed having a big, soft bed to sleep in and a room to share, just the two of them. Genna & Jake loved having a nightly slumber party with their cousins -- 4 bunk beds shared amongst 5 kids, with a different combination sleeping together each night and more often than not, one bed completely unoccupied!  The huge master shower with  two shower heads was a unique experience, too!

The house was called Cabana Blu
The beach here was just OK, not near as nice as Navarre
The weather...not really so great.  Two full days of rain, many cold (50s) sunny days, and one partly sunny, warm day.  Now, if you're from up north & dealing with below freezing temps much of the time, that might not seem so bad, but if you're hoping to actually play in the surf, the weather was a tad disappointing.

The beach...not as awesome as what we've experienced for the most part around here.  It was okay, but the sand was not nearly so fine & white, and the water not as clear blue & green, although the water color may have been due to the time of year. The beach was a solid 5-10 minute walk (depending on the eagerness & energy levels of the little people in tow) from the house. The kids still had lots of fun playing in the sand & at the edge of the surf on the tolerably warm day(s).

Cousin time...was definitely a win! I love watching my kids enjoy their cousins; there's something heartwarming about watching family bonds grow & strengthen. The most hilarious interaction would have to be between Thavyn & Genna.  It all started when Thavyn asked Genna to sit next to him at mealtime. In Genna's words, "I had no idea that everything Thavyn says would be sooooo funny!  I can't stop laughing!"  There were endless giggles & merriment.  I think it was a classic case of a cousin crush! ;)  Shanan got some new subjects for practicing her hair braiding, and Alyssa rounded up Aunt Wanda for a makeover. Fortunately, those took place before the yuckies surfaced in full force!

These three couldn't resist getting in the cold water
Might as well jump
The bike trail (the 30-A)...well, I couldn't tell ya since I didn't get to check it out.  The Bradfords did manage an outing with our two big girls and all of their crew & they survived!  Steve also managed a solo outing.

The hiking trails...on Thanksgiving Day, I did manage to go on a short little jaunt on a hiking trail "through the fawrest," just along the edge of the subdivision with the well, or mostly well people. It was a fun little diversion!

Grayton Beach State Park...on our last full day, we visited and had good spite of my less than stellar condition. The kids had a blast playing along the hiking trails, & there was also much fun to be had on the beach.  The ocean was literally like glass here!  Jake had so much fun trying to catch seagulls, of which he informed me, "We don't eat seagulls." True that!!

Group photo at Grayton Beach State Park

The nature trail was fun for all
The health of the Zavockis??? an all time low this visit.  Seriously, if you ask a Zavocki or Bradford about Thanksgiving 2014, the predominant memory would have to be how many times a Zavocki got sick.  When we arrived, Genna & Katie had colds, snot & coughing.  No big deal, really, just that time of year. However, after Steve left to return for work on Monday & Tuesday, I came down with some 24hour crud, headache & body aches.  Kudos to my sister for feeding everyone, & my bigs for watching Katie while I essentially went to bed at 4:00. While I was down with this crud, Jake woke in the middle of the night screaming, holding his head & proceeded to throw up.  Fun times, I say!  Again, thanks to my sister for helping him get to the bathroom, grabbing a barf bowl in a timely fashion, & helping clean up the puke on the floor! Fortunately, by morning, his head & stomach were fine, and I felt much improved. Tuesday proved rather uneventful, if you don't count the rain.

Wednesday morning, Katie woke with a bit of crud in the corners of her eyes. I didn't think much of it because she'd had cold symptoms & occasionally, those go hand in hand. By evening, however, it was starting to look like a classic case of pink eye. Hmm...lovely, really. Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, dawned with Thavyn & Genna looking slightly pink in one eye, & Katie looking altogether miserable.  Having used eye drops for pink eye with the bigs when they were little, I wasn't anxious to do so again.  Shanan fought the drops so badly she burst a blood vessel in her eye which looked worse & took longer to recover from than the pink eye itself, so this time I used some remedies I have since used with success--tea bags & breastmilk (benefits of not having weaned yet!).  Alyssa also woke with the same headache, body ache crud that I'd had on Monday, so she was out of commission for most of the day. Sharing is caring, right??!

Despite all the yuckies, we managed to pull together a yummy Thanksgiving meal--Turkey & stuffing, grilled lamb, mashed potatoes & gravy, roasted cauliflower, carrots, cranberry chutney, brandied cranberries, beet casserole, sweet potato casserole, & pumpin pie, pecan pie, & one of Tracy's famous cakes!  Even Alyssa was feeling better by the time dinner was served & was able to be up & enjoy it!  Definitely a win!

With one full, sunny day remaining, we had high hopes of all being well & enjoying some activity together before the pack up/clean up that was looming!  Friday morning, Katie was looking better, though still pretty rough, but Thavyn & Genna were looking better!  I awoke with a bit of crud in the corners of my eyes, but I was optimistic.  We began the process of packing & cleaning & by late in the afternoon finally made it out the door to go explore Grayton Beach State Park.  My eyes were continuing to bother me, but again, I was hanging in there.  The state park was such a great outing, the kind of the thing we had all hoped we would be doing most days while we were "on vacation." was becoming clear that I was definitely getting pink eye...and a pretty rotten case at that.  Lovely, so lovely.  I'm sure you're all grateful that I'm wearing sunglasses in all the pictures; I know I sure am!

Sisters-good thing she loves me through thick & thin!
Steve and I on the last full day

We returned from our final (& only "everyone together") outing to eat more leftovers & try to make more headway to get ready to leave by checkout at 10am on Saturday. Jake skipped dinner, then complained his head hurt again, and proceeded to throw up (albeit a miniscule amount) again, before falling asleep on our bathroom floor. This time, I'm reasonably convinced that with me being sick, he was definitely overtired & possibly hadn't drank enough during the day, & either one, or both, could contribute to feeling pretty crummy. Or...he could have been fighting some bug. Then, Genna was partying hard with her cousins when she also randomly threw up on the floor. Again, not much, but seriously??  Meanwhile, I was growing increasingly miserable. And, we still had to prepare for our 10 am checkout, followed by a mere one and a half hour commute for us, and a good solid ten hour drive for the Bradfords....

The good news...we survived *and* we made memories! :) I was pretty sure that the accompanying symptoms indicated our pink eye was probably viral, so we didn't rush off to get prescription drops. Somehow, we did indeed make it out by our checkout time.  So grateful that we don't typically get slammed with sickness like we did this time!  Upon arriving home, the pink eye continued to spread throughout until the all the Zavockis got it, some very mild cases with mine & Katie's being the worst. A few Bradfords got it, too, but since they're family, they still love us anyway! :)'s good to vacation...but sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation, lol! :)

The night the Bradford's arrived, Steve took the girls to see the Christian band Third Day in concert
The concert was awesome, we highly recommend see Third Day in concert

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Navarre Beach

The beach...the whole reason that the idea of coming here seemed so appealing...has not disappointed.  We have had sooo much fun at the beach this summer.

Navarre Beach is a bit less touristy than Destin & Pensacola, but it is still spectacular!  The water--so clear & amazing!  The sand--so pristine & soft!  Parking is free, and there are bathrooms and outdoor showers to rinse off, as well.  There are also pavilions that you can picnic in away from the sand as long as they're not reserved. What more could you want or need?  We've experienced yellow flag days with gentle surf and red flag days with crazy surf & murky water that we didn't let the littles play in.  Steve apparently attracts fish, so he had a day or two where he was super paranoid about fish swimming around him, nibbling on his feet. ;)  We even got a chance to swim in the rain once, which was actually pretty cool!

I can't see how there could be a better beach than here
The sand is also perfect
We'll certainly be sad when the temps drop enough to make swimming no longer an option!  The beach is definitely the best thing about this area!

Jake's feeble attempt to bury Mom