Surprise! I’m in Florida. Actually, it’s not really that much of a surprise if you’ve been following my Facebook page or Instagram account—I’m @LunaticAtLarge, FYI; same as my Twitter name). The downfall of the Internet generation: I don’t go out of my way to keep my current locale at any one time overly secret.
So what are we doing here? Well, we’re on vacation in Blue Mountain Beach with 15 family members and four close friends. We’ve been eating together every meal, but last night, us “kids”—SVV, Kari, me, our friend Mallory, her son Gabe and Ella, of course—went down to Seaside for a little picnic while the “adults” had an unchaperoned adult night out in Destin. Sounds scandalous to me, compared to our evening of wholesome, old-fashioned fun.
Despite the dozens of times I’ve vacationed in Florida, I haven’t spent much time in Seaside—the ritzy planned community that played setting for the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show—other than to drive through it, as that corridor of 30-A is always so jam packed with traffic and speed traps. But when we were staying down in South Walton back in March, I headed out this way to get gas and was immediately intrigued by the setup of Airstream trailers—makeshift stationary food carts—along the downtown boulevard.
One thing you should know about SVV and me is that one of our way-on-down-the-line pipe dreams is to buy an Airstream so that our camping trips can be a more frequent occurrence. Another thing you need to know is that we take our food carts seriously. So obviously, we had to check these bad boys out!
Much like we’d do during our weekly dinner at Off the Grid when we still lived in San Francisco, we tried a little bit of several things: egg rolls, a Caprese grilled cheese, two kinds of fancy hot dogs, pink lemonade (me), Fanta (him) and Butterbeer-like cream soda I mooched off my sister. Ella might even have stolen the leftovers, much to our surprise; sneaky, unassuming pup.
On the lawn of the Seaside Amphitheater, more than 50 kids ran about, tossing Frisbees and footballs and practicing their hula hoop skills. Gabe was flitting in and out of groups of girls trying to flirt and being ignored (girls, they start with the attitude early); when I tried to join him, he halted me with an “as if” hand in my face and said, “KWISTIN! STOP! JUST GO.” Shut down. By a four year old. My ego has never been so bruised.
The lighting was particularly beautiful that night—but when is it not in Florida, really?—so after we had licked our paper bags and wrappers clean, we headed down the path to the beach to take some photos.
Gabe wasn’t much for posing for my camera until Mallory said he’d get ice cream if he cooperated. Bribery—a tactic I’m fully in support of using whenever necessary—when does that not work with four year olds?!
Then, it was Kari’s and my turn to recreate our jumping shots from Cocoa Beach three years ago. We didn’t quite succeed as I kept flashing the camera my underwear (comes with the only-wears-dresses territory, I suppose).
Kari grabbed the camera, and SVV, Ella and I posed for an awkward family portrait next.
You’ve really got to catch this guy candidly, or else you get that forced “I’d-rather-be-anywhere-but-here” smile. Or the crazy eye. Or sometimes a mixture of both.
Handsome husbands aside, I was awestruck by the beauty of the coastline. I’ve been coming to this stretch of the Florida Panhandle regularly since I was a wee tot, and I still think there’s no place in the continental United States that I’d rather continue to revisit year after year.
It’s just so windswept and rugged and surprisingly quiet in parts.
On our way back to the car, we stumbled upon a quaint—and a bit pricey—outdoor bazaar with a lot of pretty things for the ladies (by way of clothing and jewelry, I mean).
Then, we stopped at a dessert parlor—gelato for Mal, ice cream for Kari, frozen chocolate-covered key lime pie-on-a-stick(!) for me—and called it an early night, waiting impatiently in our condo until the “adults” got home safe and sound and we could sleep peacefully knowing they were tucked into their beds for the night. It’s so hard having to be the responsible “kids” sometimes to such unruly parents.