What sound track plays in your car on a long road trip?
I got to hear an endless loop, at least it seemed endless, of:
I'm hungry! (Again. Sigh. Eat one of the dozens of car snacks I brought.)
Are we there yet?
How long until we get there?
Are we there YET?
Stop touching me! (There is no car in the world big enough to separate squabbling siblings.)
Can we have screens again?
Who cares about the mountains anyway? (We live in a fairly flat state.)
I also got to hear times the kids were laughing and playing with each other, sometimes loudly enough to hurt my ears, but that's better than fighting. They also slept for a very little part of the way.
Florida and South Carolina were so refreshing. I haven't had a break like this for years, and I felt my soul knitting itself back together being away from all the usual surroundings in my life.
White sand, an emerald coast, and gentle waves will do that.
Two of my usual surroundings went with me on the trip: my children. I loved all the memories we made together as we all tried brand new experiences.
For one, I found out shrimp is edible in Florida. I never before had been able to stomach it. Shrimp tastes different when it was happy just that morning, as my brother Mark would say, and you're eating it with your toes in the sand under a colorful umbrella and smelling the salt air.
My favorite version of it was the Firecracker Shrimp from Dewey Destin's. My brother-in-law encouraged me to try it, and it was fabulous! Hot sauce and other flavors all over it.
And coleslaw. What is it with coleslaw in the South? It's on, and in, everything. Anyway, I just had it that way whether or not it was my utmost preference because I wanted to eat food that I couldn't just get anywhere in Indiana.
Being a Hoosier, I can tell you, nobody puts coleslaw on their sandwiches here.
Kal tried all sorts of new foods: oysters, lobster, crawfish (crawdads when you're in Indiana), catfish. He's my adventurous son where any type of meat is involved.
Kara is adventurous with sugar. She wanted to try a boba tea on the trip. My sister-in-law found a shop in Charleston, SC. I stood there, totally out of place in a Vietnamese shop, but enjoying the experience with Kara and my SIL.
I had to ask what boba tea even is. The nice lady at the counter explained, but I still don't have a good understanding except that it includes these black tapioca-type "pearls," as they're called, in a mixture of black tea, milk, and brown sugar. You slurp the pearls up through a fat straw.
Once was probably enough for me with boba tea, though I could certainly retry the bubble waffles they had. Just another form of tasty carbs.
Boba tea apparently is a hip thing to have. I'm not hip.
We had other adventures: a downpour that was as heavy as the heaviest rainstorm here in Indiana, but the trees were still and upright. Just another day in the South. If the palm leaves on the palm trees had looked like my long hair while driving down the freeway in a convertible, then we would have been heading inland.
As it was, I just slowed down the driving speed, put the wipers on high, and prayed there weren't any idiots around me. Just another rain storm for the locals. Nobody else was phased one bit.
Another thing which stood out on this trip is that all the dogs at my families' houses made quick friends with Kal. He has typically been stand-offish with dogs, but this time, they just loved him, and he loved them back. Raylan especially, the boxer mix at my brother's house, would lay around with Kal on the sofa, then hang his head like he was sad to see him go.
Kara declared well in advance of this trip that she was going to live in the pool. She did her best to live up to that declaration. She and Kal were in the pool every day before breakfast, then reluctant to leave it when it was time to eat or go somewhere.
Dolphins are a regular sighting along the coastline. We took a dolphin tour one day that had us out in open waters looking at dolphins coming right up to the boat.
Ironically, my sister's dog, Sadie, a husky, looks like the dog version of a dolphin. Always a playful grin on her face and no sense emanating from her presence.
We're not much into souvenirs. Memories, a new batch of freckles, and a sunburn are the main souvenirs. I did buy a coffee cup and a dolphin ornament, though, and the kids bought a couple things with the little bit of fun money I gave them.
Who wants to spend all that time in a ridiculous gift shop when they could be enjoying the sand and sunshine?
I noticed a group of girls, 20 years old or so, standing on the beach for 15 minutes taking 15,000 selfies before ever stepping foot into the water. I'm sure some perfect picture of the perfect kissy-face landed on Instagram, alluding to the grand time they should have been having just enjoying nature.
If you couldn't tell, I'm not a fan of excessive selfies. What's the point? Live life!
One fascinating tree along Folley Beach in South Carolina is the Shell Tree. Hundreds of shells dangle off its branches and clank almost musically in the breeze. It's become a shrine of the visitors to the beach. Some people decorate the shells or write an inscription with the Sharpie that is also hanging on the tree. Kara and I found our own shells to hang up and mark our time there.
So we had over a week full of boats, sand, waves, salt water, sun, rain, dolphins, shrimp (macaroni and cheese for Kara), shells, crabs, pelicans, historic sites, hip shops, marshes, boardwalks, sunhats, flip-flops, and family, including our little almost-toddler nephew who cozied up to Kal right off the bat.
I have a blank sheet of paper listing all the reasons to leave Florida or the Carolina coast.