Does a vacation mean you need to lose all your gains or stay so on track that you can’t lighten up and have a little fun? Of course it doesn’t. Come with me, here’s a few tips and strategies as I embarked on my annual family reunion. . .
Fail to plan and plan to fail; start making a list a couple of weeks out of what you’ll need. No need to go overboard but it’s very helpful to have the essentials on hand. I divide my list up into a few categories: clothes/outfits + workout wear/sporting gear, food, kitchen utensils and in this case beach stuff I will need.
Hallelujah! I managed to get 5 glorious days away. Leaving on a Wednesday I pre packed as much as I could that Sunday, knowing Monday and Tuesday would be very busy at work with preparation for my absence. So, come Wednesday morning I was ready to go with minimal last minute packing. It was a dreary day with lots of rain on the horizon. I didn’t care; I was going to the beach, the rain was a sign that my stress was about to wash away.
Off we go!
And it rained all the way up. The “Jag” loves to be in control especially behind the wheel and I hate to drive. So fine baby, have at it. Let it rain; I relaxed, read, conversed and had quite a pleasant trip up. The weather had cleared slightly upon arrival.
Over the years our family reunion has been at a few beach destinations but the last 10 or so we have made our way to Neptune Beach, a quaint and beautiful strip and stay at a delightful hotel The Sea Horse Oceanfront Inn. I have a no elevator rule when I am at the beach and it had better not be more than 2 stories high. I find the old Florida style resorts to have the most charm and despise the overbearing high-rises.
I have to unpack immediately and organize everything especially since we would be there for 5 days and I cannot live in clutter. We had a little more rain that evening but no one minded as the rest of the family members began arriving.
Meet the Family. . .
It all started with the parents although they no longer make it to the reunions because they can’t handle the heat like they used to. This is a dated picture circa 1991 but one when they were all together. Both my and the Jag’s parents were good friends and had a lot of great times together. Mine are on the left and the Jag’s are on the right. We lost my dear mother in law Marion in 1999. I am thankful I had 13 wonderful years of knowing her. She is depicted as a guardian angel on every family reunion tee shirt.
the Jag & his Bros
Chuck and Kenny, the blood is thick. Chuck is one year younger than Rick and Kenny is 11 years younger
Sisters in law
The Jag’s 2 sisters Becky (2 years younger than Rick) and baby sister Jay (14 years younger) bookending and sister in-law Suzy in the middle
Brothers in Law
You already met Chuck and Kenny, that’s Dave (belongs to Jay) in the middle
There are 3 nieces, 1 nephew and 6 great nieces and nephews
I’m an only child and I inherited this entire wonderful family through the Jag
Come late Wednesday evening most everyone had arrived and the fun began.
Since it’s a flip flop state of mind all week the girls immediately showed off their pedicures. Hmmm, I think the naked nails are Jag’s and he somehow slipped into the picture.
For dinner every night it’s Finnin’ which means each family fends for themselves getting take out from their restaurant of choice and we all eat together in the courtyard. Of course we have a block of adjacent rooms on both floors. Now, there are no kitchens or grills at the Sea Horse so bummer, no cooking. I do enjoy a break now and again but you must be prepared. Where there’s a will there’s a way. . .
I don’t like eating breakfast out, unless you’re lucky enough to find a quality spot so I cook our breakfast in the room using my trusty toaster oven to cook up bacon or sausage
and my hot plate for some scrambled eggs,
a side of fruit and voila breakfast is served!
After breakfast I need some activity. In the past I have searched out gyms and there is even a CF box about 6 minutes from the hotel. This year I decided to take a break. Thursday morning I ran beach sprints from trash can to trash can, they were placed in between lifeguard stations and I guesstimated them to be about 100 yds. Sprint 100, walk 200 and I repeated that for about 2 miles. Friday and Saturday mornings were a power yoga class not 50 m from the hotel. Then it was time for some fun in the sun
Now if you’re going to use sunscreen get a natural or organic one — they won’t have the harmful chemicals in them that the conventional ones do.
After some energizing boogie boarding it was time for lunch . . .
Lunch and dinner are much easier and restaurants abound within walking distance – over the years I’ve tried them all and narrowed it down to my favorite two. This was an octopus salad with a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Yum!
the fun continued throughout the afternoons
And dinner, well sometimes you have to splurge a little
who can resist Shrimp n’ Grits from the North Beach Fish Camp
the evenings were capped off with nightly poker tournaments
On the last night we all cram in one hotel room and watch a slideshow of the weekend’s best moments saddened that it’s almost over but knowing that some great family memories were made
All good things must come to an end and the 5 days flew by. I came back rested, refreshed, re-inspired and ready to get back to my day to day life. Vacations are a much needed necessity and not taken often enough by most of us. The last several years mine have not been far away from home or exotic but the quality of them and the company is what is important. Like anything else it is what you make it. . .