Tag Archives: family vacations

Wildcard Wednesday: 4th of July

Charleston beach.jpg

This year I decided to take students to the UK during my family’s regularly scheduled trip to the beach. Since the only reason we go to the beach is because my in-laws orchestrate a big family get together there, my heart was definitely more set on the UK trip. Plus, we stay at a beach house my SiL owns, so I knew my husband’s family would be able to be a bit more flexible with the beach week. And if not, it would save me two 12 hour drives to Isle of Palms and a week in the same house with 14 other people, most of whom are only related to be me by marriage.

True to form, as soon as my MiL knew the dates I’d be going to the UK, she arranged for our beach week to be moved. It’s not the first year we’ve had to mix it up, although the other time was also to accommodate a student trip to the UK three years ago. Luckily my trip coincided with my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary, so they were happy to move things around so we could have a big family party to celebrate this milestone. That trip was scheduled for the end of June and we just missed being at the beach on the 4th of July.

Wild Dunes is a surprisingly popular destination for the 4th of July. Since my in-laws knew two years in advance when my trip would be, it was no problem for my SiL to make sure her beach house was not rented out for the holiday week. So this year we celebrated America’s independence without any sparklers or bottle rockets as setting off fireworks is illegal on the Isle of Palms. For some reason we also didn’t have the traditional cook-out, even though there was a grill at the beach house. We had my FiL’s homemade spaghetti sauce (which I regret to say I am the only who is not a fan of it–too much meat and not enough spice), pasta, garlic bread and salad. It was a perfectly fine meal, if a little strange.

My family did celebrate our independence a bit by going out to a really awesome breakfast at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. I cannot give them high enough praise. Truly awesome experience. Delicious food, good service, plus we got to eat on the covered patio, which was really nice. I’d been there once before with friends, but I got to introduce my husband and kids to it and they loved it. Especially my son who, despite ordering from the kid’s menu, had way more food than any of us. He was in breakfast heaven.

We spent our day walking the beach and hanging out in the nearby pool, which the kids loved. Both were insanely crowded though. We usually go to the beach over Father’s Day week and even though mid-June is way cooler than July, the beach and pool are never as packed. We actually had someone plop down in front of us on the beach (complete with three beach umbrellas and chairs), partially obscuring our view of the beach, which has never happened before. There were just a lot of people.

Although we had to buck some of our usual 4th of July traditions, we did get to see some pretty cool fireworks, even though they were a little far away. A little after 9 we headed up to the top balcony of the beach house and waited for the city display to start. It was a little slow at first and the fireworks didn’t look very impressive, mostly because they were rather far away, but as the minutes ticked by, the spectacle picked up. The finale, which didn’t happen until about 9:45 was one of the most impressive I’ve seen in awhile. It was gorgeous. My son loved the fact that several of the fireworks formed hearts. My daughter was so tired after a day at the beach and the pool that she completely slept through them!

The only real downside to the day was that the “entertainment” that happens at the Boardwalk Inn next door didn’t stop playing at 10 as usual. Every night during the summer there is a live band next door in the pavilion between two of the pools. The bands begin playing around 7 and have to be done by 10. Since they are outdoor and our beach house is right next to the pavilion, we can hear every single note played. One night, my son was in the bathtub and he yelled out, “Mom, they’re playing ‘Sweet Caroline!'” Then he started singing along. That’s how loud it is every night of our vacation. My husband and I have to listen to mediocre cover bands cover mostly the same songs for at least an hour every night. Even with the TV on watching Netflix, we can still hear the music.

On the 4th of July I was excited to watch an episode of Preacher and figured that the band was going to finish their set with a song or two with their remaining 10 minutes. Nope! Because it was the 4th they played until 11. We still watched Preacher, but had to rewind a few times because the choruses of “Born in the USA” and about half a dozen CCR songs were so loud. It was annoying, but I was glad they didn’t go completely cliche and play “Proud to be an American,” which every other band had played at some point leading up to the 4th.

It was definitely an interesting holiday. I’m glad we went, but I think I’ll be happy to go back to mid-June next year.

Leave a comment

Filed under cool links, cool places, entertainment, married life, my crazy family, my daughter, my son, nostalgia, ramblings, travel, what makes me me

Throwback Thursday: Disneyworld

DSCN0661For as long as I can remember, I have been a Disney kid. We moved to Southern California when I was 6 and lived less than an hour from Disneyland until I was 14. In fact, for several of those years we lived in Anaheim and were year round pass holders. My sister wasn’t in school yet, so my mom would pick me up after school and take us to Disneyland for an hour or two before my step-dad got off work. We’d get to ride a few rides and be home in time for her to make dinner. It was magical.

When I was 14, I moved in with my dad in Indiana, which although removed from Mickey and his gang, did not stop my love for them. I was still had all the movies to watch any time I wanted. Yes, even as a teenager I watched Alice in Wonderland, Pete’s Dragon and The Little Mermaid repeatedly. When I got my first car, I also got The Little Mermaid cassette and it played repeatedly when I was in my car. My best friend was also a Disney fiend, so we’d sing “Kiss the Girl,” at the top of our lungs on the way to school. I worked at the movie theater when The Lion King came out and not only did I see it for free multiple times, I heard that soundtrack every single time I worked (on a constant loop) for an entire summer.

Since I lived so far from California, my Disney fix had to be filled by heading to the other coast: Disney World. I’d been a few times as a child, but my favorite Disney World memories came as an adult. One year my dad and step-mom took my boyfriend and I to visit my great aunt who lived in St. Augustine and then we headed down to Disney World to spend three magical days in the Magic Kingdom. Well, one day there, one day at Epcot and one at Hollywood Studios (there was no Animal Kingdom then). I still remember how my boyfriend FREAKED on The Great Movie Ride* when an alien from the Alien portion of the ride came at us from above. He was so busy looking at the one on the side of us that he completely missed the one above us and just about wet himself. It was fantastic!

Another year my step-mom, aunt and cousin went together as part of a celebration of my cousin’s high school graduation. Once again we visited my great aunt. This time we had to paint her deck before we could reward ourselves with a trip to Disney. We were not prepared for painting a second story deck in 90+ heat using rickety ladders. It was truly horrific, but it made for some great family bonding and it made any hot weather or tired feet at the parks seem like a wonderful reprieve.

My aunt and I made a solo trip a little later and it was fantastic! It was on this trip that I discovered the wonder of Waffle House waffles. After a VERY long drive to get to Florida, we found a Waffle House near our hotel and dug into pecan waffles. They were delicious! We did everything at a leisurely pace and aside from a speeding ticket I got on the way home, it was a great trip.

My aunt also took my husband (who was just my boyfriend at the time), my uncle and I to Disney World not long after we started dating. My uncle drove 17 straight hours to get us there, stopping at every single rest stop to stretch and have a cigarette. The car was pretty small and when we finally reached our destination (once again we went to St. Augustine first), it was glorious. Sadly, my aunt got pretty bad vertigo on day two at Epcot (Mission Space was brand new at the time) and she had to bow out of the rest of the day, so my husband and I roamed the rest of the day while they went back to the hotel.

Although my husband is not obsessed with Disney the way I am, he gives in to my whims and so far we’ve taken one amazing family vacation to Disney World with our own kids. We only went to three of the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios). It was seriously the best family vacation we’ve ever been on. I cannot even describe how wonderful it all was.

DSCN0668Our second trip was not quite as awesome. We were there as Hurricane Matthew approached and not only did we get soaked through pretty much every single day, we actually left one day early because the hurricane was getting ready to hit and we knew Disney was going to be closed for the fourth time ever. We lit out as early as we could Thursday morning and ended up at my best friend’s house in Athens, Georgia, so even though we were sad to cut our trip short, we had a great time with my best friend.

That leads us to our latest trip, which is actually coming a year earlier than planned. Initially my husband agreed to every three years for a Disney trip. But we just went back in 2016, so at this point, I should just be wistfully thinking of our trip next year, not writing this blog with a hotel room and tickets already booked and paid for.

What makes this year so special? My aunt and her two kids are coming with us. My aunt is pretty much the biggest Disney fan I’ve ever met, but because of her vertigo, she can’t drive long distances and she refuses to fly. So, this year, we are all going together. Not only do I get to share Disney World with my kids again, but I get to share it with my aunt, who is my closest family member (more like a mom than an aunt), and her two kids. My kids get to run through Disney World with their cousins, who they adore.

Once again, we get to make new memories with the people we love most.

I know a lot of people mock Disney because it is too commercial and too expensive and too crowded and a host of other “toos,” but for me, it will always be one of the happiest places on earth. I have so many wonderful memories there and I simply cannot wait to make more with my aunt and her kids.

*You can watch the Alien portion of The Great Movie Ride around minute 3 if you use the link

Leave a comment

Filed under addictions, cool links, cool places, entertainment, good days, love, movie references, my childhood, my crazy family, my daughter, my son, nostalgia, products, ramblings, travel, what makes me me