General Conference weekend was also our Fall Break (Mon and Tuesday off from work and school). We listened to the first session of Conference on Sunday and then start driving to the Coast in between and during the 2nd session and stream it over my phone while we drive. We'd arrive around 5 pm and find a camping spot, set up tent, eat a picnic dinner and then be all ready for a fun day at the beach the next day. At least that was the PLAN. Despite my best efforts to have everything ready on Saturday, I still ended up packing food and gathering stuff during some of the first Session. I had to remind myself many times that it was Sunday because it felt more like a Saturday... not the best Sabbath day feeling. I would do things different if we were to repeat this like have the car literally packed on Saturday. Oh well, we live and we learn. Driving was great and listening to the second session in the car was also great, finding our campsite was easy and fun and we had our tent set up pretty fast and dinner easily assembled. The weather was PERFECT!!! We played frisbee for a while and still had some time to kill before it was dark so we decided to drive the 20-30 minutes to the beaches at Gulf Port and check it out.
The beach looked beautiful and with so many easy places to park we were excited for our day of splashing around, making sandcastles and jumping in the waves.
By the time we got back to the State Park (which was more like a 40 minute drive) it was dark enough that we could attempt our first night sleeping in the same tent as a family of 6. We brought our huge memory foam topper for Chris and I to sleep on, and had another couple of pads for the kids and combined they pretty much covered every space on the floor inside our tent... one massive bed. The older kids loved having the flashlights (too much.. some of them lost the privilege of having one for various chunks of time). I did manage to capture this cute moment of Alec reading to Gwen and Charlie out of The Friend magazine. Freddy.... Freddy.... Freddy. He goes to sleep really well when he's at home, in his room, in his crib, in the dark, by myself, without any distractions, by himself, in his crib. But here... he was like that last person to fall asleep besides myself. Poor guy.. it was just too fun.
I slept HORRIBLY. I woke up every couple of hours wondering if I had even fallen asleep yet, and worried about Freddy who was rolling into and head butting Gwen, then ended up face down in the very corner of the tent with his head off any kind of pad. Then Alec kept kicking Chris and draping his legs across him, who would forcibly fling those annoying little legs off of him and they'd swipe across the side of the tent on their way back down. Freddy woke up only once and jabbered happily to me around 3:00 am and I cuddled him to sleep. Then the kids all woke up at the same time around 6:00 am with the sun. Even though it seemed like I had hardly slept I had acquired the biggest knot in my shoulders and a quite painful crick in my neck. I was cranky and worried about ruining the day, but managed to try and look past that and apologize quickly after any cranky remark I would let slip out. Chris had the tent all packed up and put away and I had the kids all breakfasted (previously hard boiled eggs, muffins and fruit) that by the time 8:30 am rolled around we were already on our way to the beach.
So excited for the beach!
We drove along the coast for quite a while passing perfect parking spot after perfect parking spot for one reason ... We didn't see ANYONE on the beach! We started to worry that maybe there was some wearther warning we didn't know about, or water quality advisory, or SOMETHING. I felt too conspicuous taking our whole entourage and gear out where everyone could look at the fools trying to play on the beach. But the kids could hardly stand the wait, and Chris wasn't nearly as weird-ed out as I was so I finally deemed a little spot worthy enough because there was a high dune that blocked the view of the beach from the road. :)
We got all our chairs set up and towels laid out and toys dumped and everything before I even NOTICED the lack of waves. The water looked like there were lots of plants growing just under the surface and/or big rocks. Turns out there are some barrier islands way off the coast all along the Mississippi coastline that prevent waves and currents from really coming in. I guess the Mississippi beaches are great for sun bathing and sand play but not really for swimming. I was pretty disappointed at first, but the kids didn't seem to mind and the dark colors in the water that I thought were slimy plants and sharp rocks were mostly just dark/silty sand piles. So we were able to wade out really far and run in the shallow water scaring flocks of birds off of their sandbars.
Chris and I had the brilliant idea of letting each other take a nap on the calm beach. Chris went first and I took the kids out to explore the sandbars and write in the flat wet sand.
After Chris' little cat nap, it was close to 11:00am and the kids were hungry so we ate our packed lunches and decided to pack up and drive further down the coast maybe by an hour or two to try and find some beaches with some waves. But by the time we waited for everyone to go to the bathroom and got all packed up and cozy in the car the kids seemed totally happy to be done. Frederick had fallen asleep before we even left the parking lot (He was exhausted) and Gwen even said she was ready to go home now. Ha! So we scrapped the 2nd beach idea (and along with it, my turn for a beachside nap) and just headed home. We got some ice cream on the way and got home before dinner time. It was actually really nice to pick up pizza for dinner and unpack and bathe and everything and still get the kids to bed on time. A quick little 24 hour camping trip to the beach but at least we got out of the house and did something 'fun.'
BTW - Little Mr. Independent / Always-blurry-picture-kid loved having his own cup of ice cream in the car. I tried to only give him a spoonful or two at a time, but he still managed to get it just about everywhere. He's talented like that.