Overnight Branson Getaway

A couple weeks ago my hubby and I snuck away for a quick overnight trip to Branson, Missouri. We hadn’t been there for a couple of years and after our long crazy summer we both needed a bit of a break.

Our first stop was at Lambert’s Cafe in Ozark, Missouri. Neither of us had ever been there, and apparently it is a Midwestern staple because any time I say “I’ve never been to Lambert’s” people gasp and clutch their pearls like I just confessed to a horrific crime.

All I knew was that they throw rolls at you, and since I’m into weird stuff like that, I was pretty excited! They do throw rolls to you, if you raise your hand for one, and the rolls are freaking amazing. In fact, all of the food was really good.

I ordered a salad thinking that it would keep me from overeating and being miserable later. I was wrong. This was the biggest salad I’ve even seen. It was delicious but I barely made a dent in it! Next time we go I will order an empty plate and I will just eat the pass arounds. Pass arounds are food that the servers walk around and give you on your plate or napkin. Fried okra, rolls, black eyed peas, fried potatoes and macaroni salad.

Also, be prepared these are the drink cups! I was so glad I ordered water because I could have easily downed that much soda. They have these cups available for purchase in the gift shop when you leave too, if you need one.

After we ate we rolled on into Branson and checked into our hotel. We tried a new hotel this time, The Hilton at Branson Landing. It was a little pricey, but honestly it was totally worth it. The hotel is up above the shopping center at Branson Landing, so we were able to park our car, and then walk every where we wanted to go. No dealing with parking!

Look at this amazing artwork in the parking garage! Follow ChrisaraDesigns on Instagram to see more of their work!

While we were checking in, I looked across the street and saw this adorable antique store. So, as soon as we got settled we walked over to check it out! 417 Vintage Market is so adorable. I could have walked through there over and over again all day. I’m hoping once we get some remodeling done at our house I can make another trip there for some fun vintage decor.

Just some more fun street art!

Branson Landing has gotten some new restaurants since the last time we visited! The Mellow Mushroom looks so good, and they have frozen daiquiri machines like we enjoyed while on Tybee Island.  

For dinner we went to Landshark Bar & Grill

I enjoyed a Tranquil Waters and my husband had a Fins To The Left, complete with a giant gummy shark, of course.

For dinner we had fried pickles as an appetizer and I totally pigged out on a seafood platter. My hubby had a Caribbean burger. Everything was amazing! Plus, we got to sit outside by the water so it was just an all around good experience. After we ate we walked around a little bit before heading up to the hotel to relax in the hot tub and pass out for the night. There is literally nothing like uninterrupted kid free sleep. 

The next morning we went down to Big Whiskey, the hotel restaurant, to grab breakfast. They have a breakfast buffet and we had a couple of coupons for a free meal. It was a delicious breakfast with lots of options and the restaurant itself was pretty neat too. I love this sign hanging over the bar. 

After we ate we decided we’d better head home to relieve my mom of her baby-sitting duties. We stopped in Joplin, Missouri on the way home to check out the Three State Corner.

We visited the Four Corners a few years ago, but we had no idea this even existed! Luckily while we were there, there were some sweet ladies from Illinois visiting too, so they snapped a picture for us!

All in all we had a great trip! It’s so nice to get away, even if just for a day to reset a bit before returning to reality. Have you ever visited Branson? What did you do there?

Galveston Family Vacation 2018

Yesterday, a Facebook friend of mine posted asking for opinions on things to do in Galveston, Texas. Our family took a trip there last April, so I figured this was a good opportunity to share our experience!

This was actually mine and the kids first trip to the ocean! Galveston may not be the prettiest beach, but it’s only about a 10 hour drive from our house, so I’ll take a beach whenever I can get it.

We made a pit stop in Waco, Texas on our way there, but I’ll save Waco for another post. I made it to Waco two times last year and I have a lot to share about that later.

We stayed at Casa Del Mar in a condo, right across the street from the beach. Our condo number was 215 and the reason why I’m sharing that is because different people own the condos. Maureen was our host and she did an amazing job! She text me a couple of days ahead of time with the entry code and you could tell that she really loves renting out her property. Here are some pics I found online since apparently I didn’t get any of my own.

When we walked in we automatically felt like we were in a beach house. Her decorations are gorgeous and there was so much attention to details like beach toys, coffee pods, and lawn chairs available for guests to use. The only problem we had there was our BABY! She would not sleep in a pack and play and had to sleep between us. Which would be fine if she slept instead of kicking like a ninja all night. If she would have slept in the pack and play or a bunk bed it would have been a perfect fit.

As soon we were settled we ventured out to the beach. The kids and I fell in love automatically. The weather was perfect and we had a pretty empty beach since it was a Thursday in April! We ate dinner at the condo since it had a full kitchen, which was amazing. Such a great way to save money on a family vacation!

On our second day we got up early and went to the Bolivar Ferry so we could be taken to Crystal Beach. I had never been on a ferry so it was pretty cool to be able to pull up with our car and ride the boat across to the island.

We drove all around Crystal Beach. We spent the day stopping at a couple of beach access points to play in the water and hunt for shells before heading to Stingaree Restaurant and Marina for lunch. Everyone’s food was so good and what’s better than eating while watching the water outside? We finished lunch and drove around on the island a bit more. I love looking at the beach houses. What I wouldn’t give for a little turquoise house on the beach.

It was about naptime for Jordyn so we jumped in the car and headed back to Galveston. She feel asleep in the car so we continued driving around. We hunted down the Kettle House that was rumored to be a subject of an upcoming HGTV show. When we got back home we went to the beach, again, and then made dinner and decided to walk to the pier.

Listen, this was a dumb idea. It was a long walk from our condo. Like 3 miles round trip? With three kids? Stupid. We should have drove. We will mapquest our walks from now on. I guess it was one of those times where you show your kids; “See, parents do dumb shit too!” I did like that I was able to see a few statues that I had wanted to hunt down on our way there.

Look at this gorgeous memorial to victims of the Hurricane in 1900.

Anyway, my husband and our middle daughter are the only ones that like rides so we basically paid a small fortune for the two of them to ride on a roller coaster on the pier. If rides are your thing, you might find it worth the cost. They had fun riding but the rest us had to pay to get onto the pier so it was kind of a waste for the rest of us. When we got back to the condo we were dead from walking a 5k so we all went to bed pretty early.

The next morning we got up pearly and went downtown. Our first stop was the Dolphin Tour. The kids had been looking forward to this the entire trip so we were super excited to go. Annnnnd it was too windy to go out on the water. They shut the tour down just as we arrived. The girls were devastated and I felt like a total failure. This is where I learned that you should do important things on your first day of vacation just in case you can’t go another day. Hopefully we can take them on a Dolphin Tour next time we go the beach!

Instead of the tour we walked around downtown and shopped for souvenirs.

After our walk we stopped into Saltgrass Steakhouse for lunch. We got there right at opening and I found out that I love this chain restaurant. We had most of the restaurant to ourselves so it was a nice relaxing lunch. After lunch we went back to the beach for a while before deciding to head back that night instead of the next morning. Its hard to drive overnight but it’s so much easier to drive with kids while they are sleeping. We hated leaving the island but we had a great trip while we were there! It was a great first trip to the ocean!

8th Anniversary Road Trip: Final installment

Oh goodness. For the last month I’ve been working on recapping our road trip that we took to Fort Walton Beach Florida, Savannah Georgia and Tybee Island Georgia. Leaving Tybee was hard! I loved it there so much and had a wonderful time, but since adulting is dumb we had to return home eventually so my husband could return to work, and we missed our kiddos.

We left Tybee Island around 6:30 in the morning and headed home. The drive was looooooong through Georgia, Alabama and a little bit of Mississippi. But, we had a goal in mind, the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid in Memphis, TN! My hubby is a hunter and loves anything outdoorsy. (Me? I like getting drunk on patios, does that count? J/K, he’s made me love the outdoors a little, too.) Every time we are near a Bass Pro Shop we have to stop in and walk around. I’m pretty sure that the stop at the Pyramid is the only reason why he agreed to go on this trip. The Bass Pro Pyramid is located in downtown Memphis. It’s a giant store with a restaurant, a lodge and a 28 story tall elevator ride to the top the pyramid to see the entire city. Remember when I went to Tybee Island and I climbed the light house even though I’m terrified of heights? Do you think we could go to Bass Pro without going on the glass elevator? Of course not. Upon arrival we walked through and gazed at the beautiful décor and the huge fireplace outside of the check in for the lodge. Then, we made a beeline for the elevator because it was getting late and we didn’t want to miss our chance before they closed.

We paid for our tickets, they are $10 per person but we did get a military discount, which was lovely! I held my breathe and closed my eyes during the entire trip to the top because IT’S A GLASS ELEVATOR. Once we arrived up top we walked through the restaurant and then out to the GLASS observation deck. These people were obviously trying to kill me. Despite the fact that I was terrified I loved the view of Memphis.

After we got done outside we had to stand in line for a while to get back down to the bottom. We probably stood in line inside the restaurant for 15 minutes which could have been boring and annoying but they had a giant fish tank to stare at, and the husband and I spent the time daring each other to steal food off of peoples plates. We didn’t do it, don’t worry. This story doesn’t end with jail time.

The store was closing when we got back down so we headed back to the car. We ended up driving a little past Little Rock, Arkansas (and yes I sang A Little Past Little Rock for like 2 hours and drove him CRAZY). We stayed the night and lounged in the hot tub for a little bit before jumping in the car and coming home the next day! I am so thankful to my husband for putting up with me in the car for more than 40 hours over the course of a week. I love exploring new places with him and can’t wait for our next adventure!

Anniversary Road Trip Tybee Island Part Two: Day 5

In December my husband and I took a massive road trip from Kansas to Florida and then to Tybee Island Georgia, our final destination. Yesterday I recapped our first day on Tybee Island and you can find that post here: thatswhatshellsaid.home.blog/2019/02/05/anniversary-road-trip-day-4-tybee-island/

Our second day on the island we woke up and I said “Can we drive to South Carolina?” I just want to stop right here and give my husband props. If I was him, I probably would have throat punched me. I already talked him into this massive road trip, he drove the entire thing (I hate driving) and here I am asking to get back into the car. But, South Carolina was RIGHT THERE. We were so close to the border. But, he didn’t complain or even push back, he just told me we’d have to stop at Walmart in Savannah because he forgot to pack sneakers. I just want to say I packed an entire bag of shoes and only wore one pair.. and I forgot my Toms. So we got in the car, drove to Wal-Mart in Savannah and then drove to Hardeeville, South Carolina to get a drink at the gas station. Yes we are ridiculous but we marked off one more state on this trip! We visited 12 states on this road trip.

After we got back to Tybee we stopped at Tybean, the cutest little coffee shop. (I am currently kicking myself for not getting a coffee cup while I was there!) We got vanilla frappes that would make Starbucks ashamed of themselves. While drinking our coffee we walked around the Shops at Tybee Oaks and then we walked down to Seaside Sisters. The Shops At Tybee Oaks are full of items from local artists. Including amazing photography from all over the island and Savannah. All the shops were so cute and I loved the Mary Kay Andrews booth at Seaside Sisters. She’s an amazing author and has a rental property on the island. She was in Tybee while we were there but we didn’t run into her. haha.

After visiting the shops we parked the took the car back to the hotel and went walking. Tybee is not a town meant for driving at all and I’d rather walk down the beach than drive any day. Tybee has so many seashells and I saw a ton of Sand dollars! All the ones we found were still alive though so we didn’t bring one home. (If they are brown they are still alive, so you need to leave them there! Not only is it unkind to remove them from the ocean, it’s against the law!) It was low tide so it was a lot of fun to walk along the edge of the ocean and look at shells. It wasn’t terribly cold for December. I was comfortable in a t-shirt and cardigan!

We walked to the pier and then into town for lunch. Our first stop was Lighthouse Pizza and we shared a calzone. Next we stopped into Wet Willies for drinks! You can drink while walking around Tybee as long as it isn’t in a glass container, so we took our drinks to the beach and kept walking.

I loved the movie and the book The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks so I had to be a creeper and take a picture of the house where the movie was filmed.

Then, we walked back through town to our hotel to charge phones for a little bit! After a little break we walked down to Huc-A-Poos Bites and Booze and grabbed another drink. I got a Rum Runner this time…do you see where this is headed? And we walked back to the shore and followed it to North Beach Bar and Grill. We just wanted a snack and another drink but they closed at 5 that day. 😦

But I did get an amazing picture on North Beach that will likely be my new screensaver.

Since they were closed, we decided to head back to the hotel and change for the evening. It was New Years Eve so we planned to spend the evening downtown! We got ready at the hotel and called a cab because we had already walked so much that day. Tybee Island Taxi was there within a few minutes and our driver was so fun. She gave us her card so we could call when we were ready to go back. We ate dinner at Fannie’s on the Beach. I had a Pina Colada and a Po’ Boy, Justin had a Sex on the River and a Brisket Cheesesteak Sandwich. It was all so good! After we left we walked around a bit and stopped back into Wet Willies for another drink.

By then, I realized that I had been drinking straight sugar and alcohol all day. This was after months of basically eating keto, and consuming very little sugar. AND I usually drink like once a month. I am such a rookie. I felt HORRIBLE! I just wanted to sit down and not move. We ended up calling a cab and going back to the room. We took a nap and then walked down to the beach to watch the fireworks over the ocean. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed that at all. From what I’ve seen the pier was crowded with lots of people and it would have been hard to get a cab and get back to our room. We had our own spot on the beach, beach chairs and I felt so much better by then. Walking 12 miles in a day probably didn’t help.

I spent months trying to figure out what to do for New Years Eve on Tybee Island and the internet was NO HELP, so here’s my advice.

  1. Definitely walk or take a cab downtown. There are a few cab companies on Tybee and none of them are expensive.
  2. Don’t dress up. Tybee is so low key and laid back. Jeans, comfortable shoes and a long sleeve shirt is perfect.
  3. Plan for a long wait to eat downtown. We got in to Fannie’s pretty quick, but when were left there was a long line.
  4. There are plenty of bars to hang out at it. Don’t worry about making a plan, be flexible and live on Tybee Time.
  5. It’ll get busy downtown and at the pier for fireworks. Most of the hotels are a great viewing area to see fireworks, take advantage of beach access if you have it and watch fireworks from there.
  6. Have fun! Tybee is now one of my favorite places. I can’t wait to go back. Even in the winter, even in the fog, it was perfect.

In my next recap post I’ll talk about our drive home and our stops along the way! See you again soon!

Anniversary Road Trip: Day 4 Tybee Island!

Hey there! I’m finally back with another installment of our recap from our anniversary Road Trip! Day 4 was one of my favorites because we finally reached our final destination: Tybee Island, GA. This is the location that started the entire road trip and I had been dreaming of setting foot on the island for almost an entire year. Tybee is just 20 minutes from Savannah, Georgia so we didn’t have to spend much time in the car that day.

FINALLY!

When we arrived in town we just drove around the island to kind of get an idea of where everything was. For such a small island (the entire island is only a little more than 3 miles) there was a lot to take in. The quickly found downtown, some shops to visit, our hotel and the lighthouse! It was too early to check into our hotel so we went straight to the lighthouse.

Let me start out by saying that I am absolutely terrified of heights. My chest pounds, I get dizzy and I imagine plummeting to my death the entire time (anxiety is neat). But, I had been dreaming about visiting this lighthouse for so long, so I made myself climb it. This is Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. Ok, that maybe makes me question why I thought climbing it was a good idea.


It was a long climb up to the top. There are several stories and each landing has a window that you can peek out of it and maybe stick your face out of so you can catch your breath. Um. Not like I needed that or anything. The climb was hard, but I have to tell you, the view at the top was worth it. Even in the very dense fog it was still beautiful to be able to look around and see the island.

After climbing down the lighthouse and kissing the ground and trying not to cry we walked around to see the museum portion of the grounds. There was an old cottage set up to mimic the way it looks when the groundskeeper lived there in, I believe, the 1800’s. I told my husband it was Little House on the Prairie, ocean edition. We live just a few miles from Little House on the Prairie so it made me think of home.

The ticket to the lighthouse also gives you access to the cottages and the Tybee Museum in Battery Garland across the street. Also, we were able to leave our car at the lighthouse parking lot to walk across the street to North Beach. We walked along the beach for a little while before meeting our Savannah friends at North Beach Bar and Grill for dinner. North Beach was delicious. I had fish tacos and French fries. Yum!

After lunch we walked the beach a little bit more before heading into town to see if we could check into our hotel. We stayed at Desoto Beach Hotel. I still feel a little tricked because it’s advertised as Tybee’s only beachfront hotel. Almost every resort, suite, etc is located along the beach. But I guess this is the only one called a “hotel”. Hmmm… it was still a nice place to stay and I loved the direct beach access. I will say that if I was to ever go back I would want to stay in a cottage. I feel like this would have gave us more of a Tybee Island Experience. But, the hotel was clean and the staff was nice, and it was affordable.

Our room wasn’t quite ready so do our pre-check in, got our parking tag and went for a walk. You have to pay for parking everywhere in Tybee so if you can park at your hotel or cottage and walk, do so!

We walked along the beach to the pier and then headed into downtown. Our popped into a few shops before heading back to our hotel to change clothes and eat dinner. For dinner we walked to Agave Bar and Grill. Justin had an agave burrito and I can not remember what I had! But it was basically steak fajitas wrapped in a tortilla and covered in queso.

SO.FREAKING.GOOD. Also we each had like 2 strawberry margaritas which might explain why my memory is foggy. haha.

After dinner we popped into another souvenir shop (Waves Surf Shop) where I picked up a Tybee Island shirt for $5 on clearance. Then we walked back to our hotel and crashed for the night!

I really thought I’d be able to recap our entire stay on Tybee in one post but I was wrong! We did and saw a lot while we were there. Tomorrow I’ll finish recapping about our trip with a few more food recommendations and tips for New Years Eve on Tybee.

Anniversary Trip: Day 2 Continued Fort Walton Beach, Florida

1ff8f17a-c299-4edf-b82f-754b042c251fWhere we left off from my last post we had just pulled into Fort Walton Beach during our anniversary road trip.

I chose Fort Walton beach because I had heard all about the white sand and turquoise water in the Destin area, but Fort Walton is just a little more affordable than Destin is. I have zero regrets about Fort Walton and absolutely hope to go back to the Emerald Coast one day.

Pulling into town, I immediately fell in love. I love turquoise and peach beach houses. Its just all so calming and nothing at all like we see in the Midwest.  We were in town before it was time to check into our hotel so we ventured towards town for lunch. We grabbed a quick lunch at Popeyes and then strolled through a few stores. We walked about Tuesday Morning and Five Below. Not super exciting but it was nice to be out of the car!

Afterwards we jumped back in the car and went to see if we could check into the hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort on Okaloosa Island and it was absolutely gorgeous. Plus, it was located just a short walk down the beach from the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk , which has plenty of dining and shopping options.

As soon as we checked into our room I threw on my flipflops and we ran out to the beach to play in the rain like any rational grown adult people would do. The hotel has direct beach access. You just walk out the door and around the lazy river (which would be so incredibly fun during the summer) and you are on the beach!

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We walked down the beach, hunting for seashells (probably my favorite thing about the beach period) and ended up at the boardwalk. We went inside to check it out and bought the kids souvenirs. The older girls requested shirts so we got those and a mermaid doll for the toddler. For future reference, if you think the toddler will be happier with a doll than a shirt you might be wrong. She was devastated that we didn’t get her a shirt. “Where mine???”

My husband is a genius so he snuck a dress out of her closet and put it in a bag and gave it to her. She was instantly happy with her “gift”.

Girls are just a little bit dramatic.

When we were done shopping we walked back to the hotel. How cool is the giant beach ball on the hotel roof?! And we went to the room to hang out for a bit before dinner.

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For dinner we went back down to the boardwalk and ate at Rockin’ Tacos. I am not even slightly too shy to admit that this restaurant played a huge part in deciding where to book our hotel. I spent months dreaming out their gator tacos. They did not disappoint me. They were a little spicy, but not too spicy. Just enough of a kick.

 

My margarita, a Rockin Rita, was also incredibly good. The service was fast, the waitress was perfect and the restaurant itself was a lot of fun. I would absolutely go back there. Also, on Wednesday night they shoot off fireworks from the pier and this a great location to get a perfect view!

After dinner went back to the hotel and hung out at the hotel bar. I am a total pain the butt at bars because I don’t really have any signature drink that I tend to go to. I couldn’t even tell you what this was, but it was blue, and I really like Blue Curacao so I went for it. The bar was nice, stocked well and the bartender was friendly!

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We hung out down there and talked to a couple that was visiting from Nebraska before we went to bed so we could get on the road nice and early. I loved every single thing about our stay in Fort Walton. Yes, I do wish it hadn’t been rainy, but I still stand by the belief that a rainy day at the beach is still better than any day in Kansas. I really hope to make it back there with the kids sometime and hopefully we can see some blue skies and turquoise water. And I’d love to check out that lazy river too!

Stay tuned for more!

Anniversary Road Trip: Days 1 & 2

8 years ago my husband and I eloped on New Years Eve. (More on that another day) A few years ago we started going on a trip every year to celebrate our anniversary and to just get away from everything. Normally we stay pretty close to home, but last year we were freezing in Branson, Missouri and decided that maybe we should try somewhere warmer the next year.

It wasn’t long into January before I started researching beaches on the East Coast. I’ve always been in love with the East Coast (thanks to all of the Nicholas Sparks books I have read) but I had never been.

By chance, I found Tybee Island Georgia while I was searching Pinterest and Google, and I found that they do a big fireworks display on the beach for New Years Eve. Sounded great to me! So, we booked a hotel for two nights and started our countdown.

We are friends with a couple that live in Florida, so we decided that we needed to see them while we are over that way. Eventually one thing led to another and our drive to Tybee Island became a full fledged road trip.

We started off by leaving Kansas on Thursday morning after my husband got off work and we headed to West Monroe, Louisiana for the night.

Our first roadside stop was in Paris, Texas so we could see the “Eiffel Tower”. This was a fun little stop and it’s also home of the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial. This memorial is gorgeous and such a great little place to stop.
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49175666_10215867158303963_399105180236251136_nFrom there we continued to West Monroe. The drive to Louisiana from Texas was beautiful. The roads weren’t busy at all, and I just stared at all the beautiful farmhouses and trees. There is something about beautiful white farmhouses with round columns that makes me want to drool.

We arrived in West Monroe around 6:00. If you didn’t know already, the show Duck Dynasty is/was filmed there. We used to watch it a few years ago, but we haven’t watched regular tv in a few years. The Duck Commander Warehouse/Store was closed by the time we got there, but we knew that was going to happen. This wasn’t really a destination, more of a pit stop to sleep for the night. However, I had spent 3 days drooling over the menu at Willie’s Duck Diner and trying to decide what to eat for dinner. So naturally we pulled into the parking lot and there was a sign on the door saying “Closed until further notice”. Apparently they are closed for remodeling, but there was nothing on their Facebook page or website about that! Ugh. Luckily there was a Logan’s Roadhouse in the same parking lot, and I’m always up for steak so we ate there. My electric lemonade was delicious by the way.49010281_10215867163024081_3224860659304890368_n

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in West Monroe. Great hotel. The location felt pretty safe and we had no complaints! We love Holiday Inn Express. I always feel like its a safe bet and at least you can grab breakfast before you head out for the day.

Unless you leave the  hotel at 6 AM…. which we did, but that’s ok because we grabbed some coffee and hit the road. We stopped on the way out of town to snap a picture of the Duck Commander store.

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From there we worked our way on to Florida. We drove through Mississippi, and Alabama which wasn’t a bad drive. Still not a lot of traffic, but when we got to Mobile, Alabama we took a tunnel under the water and it basically gave me a mini panic attack. Thank God I wasn’t the one driving. I didn’t even know this was a thing! This girl that has been landlocked her entire life was freaking the hell out.
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We came out the other side and there was the sea. It was foggy and cloudy so the view wasn’t spectacular and I didn’t get any good pictures but I swear that salty air immediately cures all of my anxiety. For someone that’s only been to the beach once, I sure fell in love with the sea hard and fast. In Alabama I finally saw some Palm Trees, so of course I screamed like I was dying and Justin thought we were about to wreck and realized he should have brought duct tape for my mouth on this trip.

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It wasn’t too long from there before we were in Fort Walton Beach! I have a lot to say about Fort Walton so that will be in my next post! Stay tuned!