Juston and I have loved to travel since we got together. It's one of our very favorite things to do and in doing it so much over the years, we've discovered that part of the fun in travel is just getting there. That wasn't so much true for about the first 12-16 months after we had Caroline, but she could not have done better on the trip to the beach! I was shocked. I told Juston it's like we got an upgrade in travel baby and I'm totally digging this new Caroline in the carseat!
We didn't leave for the beach until Juston got off work Friday, so we decided we'd split the drive up over two days, each day about 5 hours of drive time, traffic permitting. We stopped Friday evening in North Carolina and stayed with some of our very favorite people in Elkin. We try to stop about every 3 hours for Caroline to get out and stretch, get a clean diaper, eat, etc. If we stop before she gets upset, it makes putting her back in so much easier, so we stopped at a Cracker Barrel. It really is my favorite place to stop when we have Caroline and are traveling. There's a lot of hustle and bustle to keep her attention, it's pretty noisy so if she gets to playing loud or singing Let it Go at the top of her lungs like she's prone to do, it's not really disturbing anyone. Plus the food, rocking chairs and checkers are pretty awesome too. And I try not to leave one without re-stocking my Cheerwine supply.
Caroline played with her Elkin buddies for a few hours after she got up Saturday morning and we hit the road again around 10. Our route took us off the interstate and through some really cute towns. We even spotted some family doing pretty well in North Carolina along the way ;)
If you are ever passing through Whiteville, North Carolina, you need to stop at this peach stand. They had the freshest peaches and tomatoes and the most AMAZING peach bread I have ever had in my life, all grown and made locally. I am not even kidding when I say I woofed down that loaf of break almost single-handedly in a matter of two days. No regrets.
I love these little roadside fruit and veggie stands that pop up all over the south in the summer and fall. No Farmers, No Food, so it makes sense to support them direct from the source and I'm not kidding when I say the grocery will never have produce as good and fresh as these roadside stands. It made an ideal stopping point since there was a big grassy patch right behind the stand. We bought some fresh fruit, then Juston walked Caroline around and played while I made our lunch out of the back of the Jeep.
We made it to Myrtle around 4:00 since we hit some pretty heavy traffic. After getting unpacked at the room, we hit Mellow Mushroom with my sister's family, then to the Bi Lo for groceries and finally back to the condo and the OCEAN!!! It was just starting to get dark by the time we made it, but the kids played for a while and we were all pretty ready to crash by then anyway.
Little Bed Hog in action the first morning.
I just don't think waking up to this view outside your window could ever get old. I mean, unless it's hurricane season, I guess.
Beach Day one was a huge success. We all went down together and had a ball. Caroline loved digging in the sand and was not the least bit tentative about going into the ocean like I thought she might be. I guess for the most part, kids only get scared of things they're taught to be afraid of so I just let her run and stayed at her heels to pick her up when she face-planted in the water, which she did over and over, but it never slowed her down!
My sister's kids love catching sand fleas and little fish. They'll load up their bucket then release them all back into the water before we head to the pool. Caroline would just sit on the ground and stare in the bucket watching the fish swim. She only dumped the bucket once.
She loved having her feet buried in the sand. She's pick her feet up out of it and then try to step back in the holes and bury her own feet before dumping sand on someone else.
Sidebar, if you've never had Palmetto Cheese, you need to ASAP. It is seriously the best pimento cheese you can buy. I typically love making things, but nothing I have made as far as pimento cheese recipes compares to this stuff. It's made in Pawley's Island, SC, but sold quite a bit throughout the South.
Since Caroline gets up so much earlier than everyone else in the condo, one morning, Juston suggested going out for pancakes, so we found a little local place, The Golden Griddle, just around the corner from where we were staying and it was a big hit for Caroline. I don't know about anyone else, but we never order Caroline her own meals when we eat out. She's a pretty good eater as far as eating a wide variety, but doesn't eat much, so we just order things we know she'll like and save our money. She went to town on some pancakes and grits at breakfast.
Her Daddy got her a shovel and beach ball at one of the tourist shops right near our condo and they were the coolest shovel and beach ball our baby had ever seen! She took them to the beach every day the rest of the time we were there. And yes, we're twinning in our Lilly swimsuits, both of which I got last summer for super cheap during the ESS sale :)
We attempted to go to the Sea Captains' House early in the week, but waited to go until 7:30 and there was a two hour wait, so after a little driving around, we ended up at Planet Hollywood over at Boardwalk at the Beach instead. The food was pretty good, but the DJ like to blew all of our eardrums with the music. Does that officially make me old that I'm complaining about loud music? Oh well, we really couldn't even hear each other talking. No wonder there was no wait time! haha.
This chick loves her Uncle Kursten!
My sister and I before our actual dinner at Sea Captains House.
And she really loves her cousins, too! My nephew doesn't make his way into too many pictures for some reason. He's very elusive that way.
Caroline also loved stealing boogie boards and riding around in the shallow water on them with out help. She took more than a few mouthfuls of ocean water to the face, but didn't seem to mind too much.
I was reallu hopeful that Caroline would love the beach, but she surpassed my hopes. Every morning as soon as we'd wake up she'd ask to "go ochean, go beach, Mama". I wasn't exaggerating when I said all we did was beach, pool, shop and sleep.
Thursday evening, we decided to do our traditional family beach pictures and it was windy as all get out. No one's hair looked good, except maybe my Dad's ;) Oddly enough my dad and my child were the least cooperative of the bunch. Does anyone else's family complain sooooo much when it's time to do this or is it just ours?
I did a pretty good job corralling Caroline for the most part, but she faked left and went right on me and bee-lined it into the ocean. Luckily we were almost finished, but baby girl was over it, so we let her play.
The elusive nephew.
Our last night, the kids flew their kites and in stark contrast to picture night, there was barely any wind at all. We watched a few guys catch some sharks just off the shore and even did some fishing ourselves before packing up.
We decided to go for broke and make the whole trip home in one day. We hit traffic around Virginia and ended up taking some scenic byways, but Caroline was a champ. I think we stopped once for lunch, once for gas and one more time just to stretch our legs, but it was a pretty smooth trip comparatively speaking. I really couldn't believe the difference in her behavior from our vacation road trip last summer. In a few weeks, Juston and I are headed right back to South Carolina, but this time the destination is my absolute favorite place, Charleston. Not to mention, it'll be our very first trip sans baby. I'm simultaneously excited and nervous. But mostly excited :)